A Bit of History

A Bit of History
Researched & Written by - Carol C. Reynolds

On the 14th of September 1758, Prince William County, Virginia, one of the colonies of Great Britain, yielded part of its land to growth and the county of Fauquier was created. Those who did settle in Virginia were made up of very distinct classes. There were the large plantation owners with their Negro slaves, and then the small farmers, merchants, sailors, frontier folk, servants and even convicts. Individuals and families often shifted materially and in station during their lifetime with social standards definitely influenced by England, and especially London in the mother country.

In 1763 Great Britain signed a treaty with the French, called the Treaty of Paris, which ended the French and Indian War. For the first time in over fifty years Great Britain was not at war with any country, so Parliament turned its attention to the regulation of its own affairs, which naturally involved its colonies in North America. In this same year Parliament issued a Proclamation which prohibited settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. This greatly affected Virginia and, understandably, they resented this interference.

  • Parliament imposes the Stamp Act for taxing the American colonies.
  • Patrick Henry introduces the Stamp Act Resolves in the Virginia House of Burgesses. These resolves challenge Great Britain's right to impose the tax. Governor Fauquier dissolves the General Assembly.
  • At the Stamp Act Congress in New York, delegates draw up a Declaration of Rights and Grievances.
  • On the day before the stamp tax was to go into effect, George Mercer, the collector, arrives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with the stamps. Governor Fauquier has to intervene to protect Mercer from a mob of angry people.
  • Virginians intimidate stamp distributor George Mercer into resigning his position.


  • Parliament repeals the Stamp Act but passes the Declaratory Act, which asserts Great Britain's right to pass any laws governing the American colonies.


  • Parliament imposes the Townshend Duties taxing imports of tea, glass, paper, lead, and paint in the American colonies.
  • At a public protest meeting in Boston, a Nonimportation Agreement is drawn up.
  • The New York Assembly is suspended for failing to support the quartering of British troops.


  • The Massachusetts Assembly is dissolved for refusing to assist with the collection of taxes.
  • Boston citizens refuse to quarter British troops.


  • The Virginia House of Burgesses is dissolved after protesting against England's plan to transport colonists accused of treason to England for trial.


  • Crispus Attucks (a free black) is killed when British troops fire into a crowd of demonstrators in Boston in an event that becomes known as the "Boston Massacre."
  • Parliament repeals the Townshend Duties, except for the tax on tea.


  • The Boston Assembly demands the rights of the colonies and threatens secession from Great Britain.
  • Samuel Adams forms the Committee of Correspondence in Massachusetts for action against Great Britain.
  • A slave brought into England from a British colony claims he is a free man. The court rules in his favor in the Somerset Case.


  • Parliament passes the Tea Act.
  • The Virginia House of Burgesses establishes a Committee of Correspondence to communicate with other colonial legislatures.
  • The Boston Tea Party takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. A party of nearly 50 men disguised as Indians, led by Samuel Adams, boards ships, breaks open 343 chests of tea, and empties them into Boston Harbor.


  • The Coercive Acts (widely known in America as the "Intolerable Acts ") are enacted against Massachusetts. These acts include closing the port of Boston.
  • The Virginia legislature expresses sympathy for the citizens of Boston by calling for a day of "Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer."
  • Virginia Governor Dunmore dissolves the House of Burgesses. Some 89 former burgesses meet at the Raleigh Tavern to continue their discussions. They form an association to boycott tea and other British imports and issue a call for a Continental Congress.
  • Thomas Jefferson writes "A Summary View of the Rights of British-America," which is published by Williamsburg, Virginia, printer Clementina Rind.
  • The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia, attended by representatives of all of the colonies except Georgia. Peyton Randolph of Virginia is elected president of the congress. A nonimportation agreement is written to stop trade with Great Britain.
  • The first Virginia Convention meets in Williamsburg. The convention adopts the Williamsburg Resolutions boycotting trade with Great Britain.
  • Members of the Yorktown, Virginia, Committee of Safety board a ship owned by British merchant John Norton. They open two half chests of tea and dump the tea into the York River. The tea had been shipped by London merchants to John Prentis and Company of Williamsburg.


  • Patrick Henry makes his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in Richmond.
  • Paul Revere's ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, takes place.
  • The first battles of the American Revolution take place in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.
  • The Americans are defeated at Bunker Hill.
  • Virginia Governor Dunmore orders British marines to remove gunpowder from the Magazine in Williamsburg.
  • The second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia. Peyton Randolph is reelected president of the congress. George Washington is named commander-in-chief of the American forces.
  • King George III declares the American colonies in rebellion.
  • Governor Dunmore's family returns to Great Britain. Governor Dunmore takes up quarters aboard a warship in the York River and orders military raids on the cities of Hampton and Norfolk.
  • Governor Dunmore issues an emancipation proclamation that imposes martial law in Virginia and offers freedom to indentured servants and slaves willing to fight for the king.
  • Great Britain hires 29,000 German (Hessian) soldiers for the war in North America.
  • Slave insurrection in the western part of Virginia.


  • Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense.
  • Governor Dunmore sails for England, thus ending British authority in Virginia.
  • The Virginia Convention instructs its delegates to Congress to propose independence from Great Britain.
  • The Second Continental Congress passes the American Declaration of Independence.
  • The Virginia Convention chooses Patrick Henry to be the first governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.