The first key event leading to the Revolution was the end of the French and Indian War, as the Seven Years' War was known in the American colonies. The war placed all of North America east of the Mississippi under British control. But the British government, anxious to avoid conflict...
The first key event leading to the Revolution was the end of the French and Indian War, as the Seven Years' War was known in the American colonies. The war placed all of North America east of the Mississippi under British control. But the British government, anxious to avoid conflict with Native Americans, issued the Proclamation of 1763, which outlawed settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. This angered colonists, especially land speculators who could not secure titles to vast tracts of land in the Ohio Valley. The war also left the British government with a substantial debt, which they tried to service by raising revenue from the colonies. The first two taxes, the Sugar Act and especially the Stamp Act, met with fevered opposition from the colonies, who protested that they had little specie to pay them, and that, more importantly, they were being levied against them without their consent.
The Stamp Act led to widespread protests and was eventually repealed. But it was replaced with the Townshend Duties, a series of taxes on imported goods that the colonies were not allowed to get from anywhere other than Great Britain. The colonists responded by boycotting these goods, and in order to maintain order in Boston, a hotbed of protest, the British took the fateful step of garrisoning troops in the city. Several Bostonians perished in the so-called Boston Massacre, perhaps the next important event, in 1770.
In December of 1773, angry at being forced to buy East India Company tea, a number of Bostonians threw crates of tea into Boston Harbor, in an event that would eventually become known as the Boston Tea Party. The British responded with the most important step on the road to Revolution in the form of the Coercive Acts, which closed down the port of Boston, revoked the Massachusetts colonial charter, and placed the colony under military rule. This radicalized many Whigs throughout the colonies.
By April of 1775, when General Gage sent a detachment of soldiers to confiscate arms from Concord, the countryside was already more or less in open rebellion, having closed down courts and driven British officials from power. The British military excursion, of course, led to bloodshed, and the confrontations at Lexington and Concord are considered the first battles of the American Revolution.