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Today in History – 1775: ‘Shot heard ‘round the world’, marked the start of the American War of Independence

Britain’s 13 American colonies were founded in the 17th and early 18th centuries. They ran along the eastern coastline from Massachusetts in the north to Georgia in the south. Most of the colonists were doing well as the American economy was thriving. They had the highest standard of living and lowest taxes in the western world.

Each colony was administered by a royal governor, his council and an elective colonial assembly. The governors also controlled the troops in their colonies. These policed the towns and ports and defended the settlers from border attacks by Native Americans and the French.

British victory in the Seven Years War (1756-63) sowed the seeds of the American revolt. It freed the colonists from the need for protection against the French threat on their frontier. It also gave free rein to the forces working for independence.

The British wanted to increase taxes and make the colonies pay for their defence. The colonists argued that only their own assemblies, and not the British parliament, had a right to levy taxes.

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