Describe specific acts of Colonial resistance.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There were many acts that constituted as precursors that helped to set the stage for the American Revolution.  When John Adams argues that "The American Revolution started before the first shot was fired," he is speaking to the idea that there were actions that set the stage for Revolution before it was actually waged.  One of these actions was the Boston Massacre.  Outraged at the violation of Colonial rights in instances such as the passage of the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, the Sugar Act, as well as the writs of assistance that allowed British authorities to search Colonial homes and belongings at will without any probable cause or documentation, a group of workers and sailors assembled in front of a major street in Boston.  The group started to increase in size and fervor, beginning to throw rocks and snowballs at the British guards there.  The guards, seized by the intensity of the moment and the large numbers, shot into the crowd.  The Colonists were able to play up the disproportionate response of shooting bullets into a crowd of unarmed people who were throwing snowballs and rocks in demonstrating the complete disregard for the Colonists' rights.  The Boston Massacre went very far in proving to the Colonists that the relationship between the British was beyond repair, in need of a drastic solution.

Another act was the Boston Tea Party.  This action was directly intended to strike at the British government, making a statement that the taxes being imposed were not going to be tolerated.  The Colonists were angered by the British tax on tea that was intended to help the East India Tea Company.  The Sons of Liberty, a group that started to emerge as one of the most vocal advocates for the cause of Colonial freedom, dressed up as Native Americans, boarded British vessels that were docked in Boston Harbor and dumped over 300 crates of tea into the harbor,  and then burning the boats well into the night.  The action was one of the first active steps taken that also represented violent tendencies.  It also demonstrated that a line might have been crossed in terms of being able to bridge the chasm between the Colonists and British through peaceable means.  The response to the Tea Party in the form of the Intolerable Acts greatly antagonized the Colonists, ensuring that there was little hope for reconciliation.

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