The Gaspee Incident

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The British repeal of the Townsend Act brought two years of peace between Britain and the colonies. But it didn't end the tension.

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Burning of the Gaspee

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Customs ships continued to patrol the sea off the coast of America. They would regularly stop merchant ships to examine their cargo looking for illegal goods, and enforcing British customs and taxation laws. The Gaspee was a British Royal Navy ship assigned to customs duty.

On June 9, 1772, the Gaspee was chasing a merchant ship believed to be smuggling goods. The Gaspee ran aground in Narragansett Bay, near Providence. The next night, a group of men boarded the Gaspee. They were led by John Brown, a wealthy merchant from Providence. They wounded the lieutenant who was commanding the ship, and set the ship on fire.

The British ordered a full investigation. They offered a reward to anyone identifying the people responsible. No one came forward, and no one was ever charged for the offence.

The British once again tried to gain more control over the colonies. The British began to directly pay the governors' salary, rather than being paid by the colonies. The British hoped that by paying the governor's salary, they would eliminate the colonies ability to control the governor by withholding salary.

The colonies saw this as another step to put them under British control, and to eliminate their freedoms.

Also see, George Washington's Letter to Congress


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