Massachusetts in the American Revolution

The American Revolution began in Massachusetts, particularly in Boston, in 1775. As a result, the city is now famously known as the birthplace of the American Revolution.

Since the revolution began in Massachusetts in the 18th century, many significant events of the revolution occurred there and the area was home to many iconic figures of the revolution.

The following is a list of notable people, places and events of the American Revolution in Massachusetts:

The Sugar Act

The Sugar Act was passed by Parliament in April of 1764. The act placed a tax on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies. This affected Boston and New England greatly because the colonists there used sugar and molasses to make rum. The act was also intended to stop trade between the colonies and the Dutch, French and Spanish. Boston merchants responded to the act by boycotting British luxury imports and vowed to find ways to increase colonial manufacturing to make them less dependent on British goods.

The Stamp Act

The Stamp Act was passed in March of 1765. The act was a tax on all paper used for printed materials in the colonies. It required that all materials printed in the colonies be printed on paper embossed with an official revenue stamp. The printed materials in question included everything from newspapers, to magazines to legal documents. The Stamp Act was the first new tax that the colonists actually took to the streets and held public protests about. A new political group, the Sons of Liberty, formed in Boston as a protest against the act. The group held public protests around Boston and incited a number of violent riots during which tax collectors where tarred and feathered and many government official’s homes were looted and burned.

The Townshend Acts

The Townshend Acts were passed in 1767. The acts consisted of the Revenue Act of 1767 (which placed a tax on British goods imported into the colonies such as glass, tea, lead, paints and paper), the Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Act, and the New York Restraining Act. The acts were highly unpopular and met with resistance from the colonists, especially in Boston. This prompted the British government to send more troops to Boston, in 1768, to help enforce the new taxes. A new political group, the Daughters of Liberty, formed as a result of the Townshend Acts and organized boycotts against British goods. In 1770, the Townshend acts were repealed except for the tax on tea.

The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre was a riot that occurred in Boston in March of 1770. The riot occurred when a group of protestors showed up outside the State House in Boston to protest the increased presence of British troops in Boston that occurred after the Townshend Acts were passed. On the night of March 5, a scuffle occurred between one of the protestors and a guard at the State House which angered the protestors even more and prompted them to throw rocks, sticks and snowballs at the guards. The scene quickly became chaotic and the guards fired several shots into the crowd, killing five civilians. The guards stood trial for the massacre and all but two were found not guilty. The other two were convicted of manslaughter and were branded on the hand.

The Tea Act

The Tea Act was passed in 1773. It allowed for tea to be shipped by British companies duty-free to the colonies, thus allowing them to sell the tea for a discounted price. The tea act was intended to be a bailout for the British East India Company which was suffering financially when colonists began boycotting British tea. It was also intended to subtly persuade the colonists to comply with the tea tax by offering them the tea at a cheaper price. The colonists greatly opposed the tea act because it gave British companies a monopoly on the tea trade and it helped promote the tea tax.

The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the tea act. The Boston Tea Party took place in Boston harbor in December of 1773 when several hundred protestors rowed out to three cargo ships in the harbor, climbed aboard and dumped over 300 crates of British tea into the harbor.

The Coercive Acts

The Coercive Acts were the British government’s response to the Boston Tea Party. The acts were passed in 1774 and were a series of four acts designed to restore order in Massachusetts and punish Boston for its rebellious act.

The Coercive Acts included the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act, the Quartering Act and the Quebec Act. The Boston Port Act closed Boston harbor until the damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid for, the Massachusetts Government Act restricted town meetings and made it so positions on the Governor’s council were appointed by the British government, the Administration of Justice Act made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in Massachusetts, the Quartering Act required colonists to house British soldiers in their homes if need be, and the Quebec Act gave freedom of worship to Catholics in Canada.

The acts were intended to suppress rebellion in Massachusetts and isolate it from the other colonies. Instead, the other colonies came to Massachusetts’ defense and formed the First Continental Congress to discuss forming a united resistance against British rule in the colonies.

The Siege of Boston

The Siege of Boston began in April of 1775 when British troops retreated from the Battle of Concord, where the Shot Heard Round the World took place, to Boston where they were then trapped inside the city by the local militiamen. A number of significant events and battles took place during the siege, such as the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Battle of Chelsea Creek, the Battle of Gloucester as well as the Battle of Dorchester Heights which is the last battle of the siege as it prompted the British to finally abandon Boston and move on to New York.

The Olive Branch Petition

The Olive Branch Petition was a last ditch effort on the part of the colonists to avoid going to war with Britain. The petition was adopted in July of 1775, during the first few months of the Siege of Boston. The petition explained to the king why the colonists had been rebelling recently while also declaring their continued loyalty to him. The petition then goes on to ask the king to repeal the unjust new laws and regulations on the colonies. The petition was immediately rejected by the king since he had already declared war on the colonies a few weeks before he received it in September of 1775.

The Roles of Women in the Revolutionary War

Massachusetts women served in a variety of roles during the Revolutionary War. Women served as nurses, spies, seamstresses, cooks, maids, boycott organizers and even soldiers. Some notable Massachusetts women who took part in the American Revolution are Prudence Cummings Wright, Deborah Sampson, Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams, Mary Otis Warren and etc.

The Roles of Men in the Revolutionary War

Massachusetts men also served in a variety of roles during the Revolutionary War. Men served as soldiers, messengers, spies, protestors and protest organizers. Many of the most iconic figures of the American Revolution were not soldiers or generals but instead artisans, businessmen and politicians.  Some notable Massachusetts men who took part in the American Revolution are Paul Revere, John Adams, Samuel Adams, William Dawes, John Hancock, Joseph Warren and etc.

If you are interested in products related to the American Revolution, check out the following articles about the Best Books About the American Revolution, Revolutionary War Costumes and Best American Revolution Games.

Massachusetts in the American Revolution

Images of Massachusetts during the American Revolution. Top left: Image of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Top right: Image of the Boston Massacre. Bottom left: Image of the Boston Tea Party. Bottom right: Image of the British troops marching to Concord

Massachusetts Historical Society: The Coming of the American Revolution: British Parliament Adopts the Coercive Acts:

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the owner and operator of this website and all the articles are written and researched by her. Rebecca is a freelance writer and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Visit this site's About page to find out more about Rebecca.

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