Declaring Independence

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

By the spring of 1776 a series of astonishing events-the Boston Tea Party, the closing of Boston Harbor, the hostilities at Lexington and Concord, the Gunpowder Incident in Williamsburg, and the Battle of Bunker Hill-had transformed the political landscape. George III proclaimed the colonies to be in open rebellion, and Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense, published in January 1776, attacked monarchical government and called upon the American colonies to declare themselves free and independent. A battle had been fought and won in Virginia, and the port city of Norfolk had been fired on by the British fleet with nine hundred houses destroyed by the fires started by the cannonballs. After the defeat of Lord Dunmore at Gwynn's Island on July 9, before Virginia had received notification of the Declaration of Independence, the British left Virginia.

May 29-30 1765

Patrick Henry's Resolutions

Patrick Henry's Resolutions condemn the Stamp Act.

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April 16 1768

Virginia House of Burgesses Petition

Virginia House of Burgesses oppose the Quartering and Townshend Acts.

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December 16 1773

Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party protests the tea tax by dumping 340 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.

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March 31 1774

Boston Port Act

Parliament passes the Boston Port Act, closing the port to all trade as of June 1. This was the first of Britain's "coercive acts".

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June 1 1774

Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer for Boston

In support of their fellow citizens in massachusetts, the Virginia House of Burgesses resolves that June 1, 1774, be a day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer.

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August 1-6 1774

The first Virginia Convention meets in Williamsburg and adopts an Association forbidding trade with Great Britain.

November 7 1774

Yorktown Tea Party

Locally, the Yorktown Tea Party supports non-importation by throwing two half-chests of tea, imported by John Prentis & Company of Williamsburg, into the York River.

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February 1775

The Alternative of Williamsburg

Williamsburg offers loyalists an uncomfortable alternative.

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April 19 1775

Battles of Lexington and Concord

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April 20 1775

The Gunpowder Incident

Fearing the worst, the royal governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, orders his forces to remove the gunpowder from the Magazine at Williamsburg.

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June 8 1775

Lord Dunmore

Lord Dunmore flees the Governor's Palace to the ship Fowey docked at Yorktown.

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November 14 1775

Dunmore's Proclamation

Lord Dunmore issues a Proclamation offering freedom to slaves who leave their patriot masters and join the royal forces.

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December 9 1775

Battle of Great Bridge

Virginia patriot forces are victorious at the Battle of Great Bridge.

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January 1 1776

Norfolk is burned.

January 9/10 1776

Common Sense

Thomas Paine's Common Sense is published.

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