Historical Context: 1775 Colonial America

For nearly 100 years, beginning with King William's War 1689-1697, followed by Queen Anne's War 1702-1713, followed by King George's War 1744-1748 and ending with The French and Indian War (or, as it was called in Europe, The Seven Years War) 1754-1763 the English and the French were at each other's throats in Europe battling over territories, boundaries and alliances. Inevitably the hostilities swept across the Atlantic and pitted the American French colonists against the American English colonists. Finally in 1763 the English forces prevailed both in Europe and in America. With the Treaty of Paris the defeated French king turned over to the English Crown all the French holdings in America east of the Mississippi with the exception of the Louisiana territory.

Following the conclusion of these wars, the English Crown looked to the American colonies to pay off the debts incurred by the interminable conflict and to replenish the royal treasury. To this end, these British subjects already taxed by the loss of life and destruction of property were yoked at the whim of royal privilege with a system of oppressive taxation to pay for the losses of a battle won. A battle not of their making. The colonists grumbling turned to outrage as the taxes escalated. Tempers flared, and skirmishes broke out between the colonists and the British soldiers quartered in the colonies to keep order. Led by Virginia and Massachusetts the colonies set up a system of communication (the Committees of Safety) to disseminate information throughout the colonies.

Meanwhile, across the ocean the French watched with interest the growing ferment in the American colonies. They still smarted from their recent defeat at the hands of the British forces, which had cost them the substantial investment they had made in the New World. By aiding the Americans in their struggle and impeding Great Britain, they would receive retribution for their recent losses and remain true to their time-honored rivalry with the English lion.

By the beginning of 1775 the stage was set. The American colonies were a tinderbox ready to explode.

Back