Building a Revolutionary Movement

Until 1773, there was little concerted colonial opposition to British policies. Certainly, there had been the occasional congress, circulatory letters among assemblies that shared information and called for cooperation, and groups such as the Sons of Liberty that developed and maintained personal connections among radicals in different colonies. Furthermore, colonial newspapers allied, or at least sympathetic, to radical colonial leaders began to play a crucial (although not always salutary) role in communicating political messages up and down the Atlantic coast. But no form of intercolonial collaboration, including the Sons of Liberty, survived the repeal of the Townshend duties in 1770.

That changed in 1773 with the Gaspée Affair and the creation of the intercolonial committees of correspondence by the Virginia House of Burgesses. Massachusetts Bay had developed a system of committees of correspondence to connect town meetings to each other and almost every colonial assembly had a standing committee of correspondence to communicate with its agent in London. Not until March 1773, however, was the real foundation of a unified, truly revolutionary movement laid.

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