chapter  4
Revolution, 1775–1776
Pages 20

During the decade from Parliament’s adoption of the Sugar Act to its adoption of the Coercive Acts, the relationship between the colonies and the imperial center underwent a dramatic transformation. In the main, the initiative for change originated in London rather than the colonies. Beginning with George Grenville, successive ministers sought to transform the relationship between Britain and the colonies in order to extract revenue from America. When the colonists resisted these initiatives through crowd action, political protest, and economic coercion, the main question at issue ceased to be revenue and became one of sovereignty. During this crucial period, it was not the governed but the governors, Whitehall officials and Parliament, with the agreement of George III, who were the innovators in the imperial-colonial relationship. It was they who sought to revolutionize that relationship in a manner that would result in increased metropolitan authority over and revenue from the colonies. Colonial resistance, fitful and unfocused at the outset, was concerned with preserving traditional liberties and restoring the previous relationship between the imperial center and the colonial periphery.