Timeline

Events related to the formation of the United States.

  • 1764 to 1765 1764 Sugar Act. Parliament, desiring revenue from its North American colonies, passed the first law specifically aimed at raising colonial money for the Crown. The act increased duties on non-British goods shipped to the colonies.
  • 1766 to 1767 1766 Repeal of the Stamp Act. Although some in Parliament thought the army should be used to enforce the Stamp Act (1765), others commended the colonists for resisting a tax passed by a legislative body in which they were not represented. The act was repealed, and the colonies abandoned their ban on imported British goods.
  • 1768 to 1769 1768 Massachusetts Circular Letter. Samuel Adams wrote a statement, approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, which attacked Parliament's persistence in taxing the colonies without proper representation, and which called for unified resistance by all the colonies. Many colonies issued similar statements. In response, the British governor of Massachusetts dissolved the state's legislature. British Troops Arrive in Boston. Although the Sons of Liberty threatened...
  • 1770 to 1772 1770 Townshend Acts Cut Back. Because of the reduced profits resulting from the colonial boycott of imported British goods, Parliament withdrew all of the Townshend Act (1767) taxes except for the tax on tea.
  • 1773 to 1774 1773 Tea Act. By reducing the tax on imported British tea, this act gave British merchants an unfair advantage in selling their tea in America. American colonists condemned the act, and many planned to boycott tea.
  • 1775 1775 New England Restraining Act. Parliament passed an act banning trade between the New England colonies and any other country besides Great Britain.
  • 1776 1776 "Common Sense." Thomas Paine moved many to the cause of independence with his pamphlet titled "Common Sense." In a direct, simple style, he cried out against King George III and the monarchical form of government.
  • 1777 to 1778 1777 Battle of Princeton. British General Howe reacted to the Battle of Trenton by sending a large force of men to New Jersey. At Princeton, Washington once again launched a surprise attack, and succeeded in defeating the British. His efforts cleared most of New Jersey of enemy forces, and greatly boosted American morale.
  • 1779 to 1782 1779 The British Attack in North and South. Fighting continued in both the northern and southern states. In the frontier settlements of Pennsylvania, Loyalists and Indians led by Mohawk Joseph Brant attacked American settlers. The Loyalists soon were defeated, and Americans went on to destroy many Native American villages whose residents were fighting on the side of the British.
  • 1783 to 1784 1783 The Army Complains. When a delegation of army officers complained to Congress about their unpaid salaries and pensions, Congress had no quick solution. An anonymous letter urged officers to unite and attempt one last appeal to Congress. If its attempt was ignored, the army was prepared to revolt against Congress. Washington, addressing the army in person at its headquarters in Newburgh, New York,...
  • 1785 to 1786 1785 Congress Lacks Power over Commerce. When American commissioners attempted to make trade arrangements with Britain, the British Ambassador refused, because any state could decline to abide by Congress's trade regulations. The inability of Congress to regulate commerce on a national scale led to the formation of a committee dedicated to appealing to the states to grant Congress enlarged powers over commerce. Despite these...
  • 1787 to 1788 1787 The Constitutional Convention. Every state but Rhode Island sent delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The gathering included some of the most respected and talented men in America. George Washington was named president.