Stamp Act 1765
The Stamp Act of 1765 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that imposed a direct tax on the British colonies and plantations in America and required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp. Printed materials included legal documents, playing cards and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money; the purpose of the tax was to pay for British military troops stationed in the American colonies after the French and Indian War, the North American theater of the Seven Years' War. However, the colonists had never feared a French invasion to begin with, they contended that they had paid their share of the war expenses, they suggested that it was a matter of British patronage to surplus British officers and career soldiers who should be paid by London. The Stamp Act was unpopular among colonists.
A majority considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. Their slogan was "No taxation without representation." Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests, the Stamp Act Congress held in New York City was the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure when it petitioned Parliament and the King. One member of the British Parliament argued that the colonials were no different from the 90% residents of Great Britain who did not own property and thus could not vote, but who were "virtually" represented by land-owning electors and representatives who had common interests with them. An American attorney refuted this by pointing out that the relations between the Americans and the English electors were "a knot too infirm to be relied on" for proper representation, "virtual" or otherwise. Local protest groups established Committees of Correspondence which created a loose coalition from New England to Maryland.
Protests and demonstrations increased initiated by the Sons of Liberty and involving hanging of effigies. Soon, all stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions, the tax was never collected. Opposition to the Stamp Act was not limited to the colonies. British merchants and manufacturers pressured Parliament because their exports to the colonies were threatened by boycotts; the Act was repealed on 18 March 1766 as a matter of expedience, but Parliament affirmed its power to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever" by passing the Declaratory Act. A series of new taxes and regulations ensued—likewise opposed by the colonists; the episode played a major role in defining the 27 colonial grievances that were stated within the text of the Indictment of George III section of the United States Declaration of Independence, enabling the organized colonial resistance that led to the American Revolution in 1775. The British victory in the Seven Years' War, known in America as the French and Indian War, had been won only at a great financial cost.
During the war, the British national debt nearly doubled, rising from £72,289,673 in 1755 to £129,586,789 by 1764. Post-war expenses were expected to remain high because the Bute ministry decided in early 1763 to keep ten thousand British regular soldiers in the American colonies, which would cost about £225,000 per year, equal to £32 million today; the primary reason for retaining such a large force was that demobilizing the army would put 1,500 officers out of work, many of whom were well-connected in Parliament. This made it politically prudent to retain a large peacetime establishment, but Britons were averse to maintaining a standing army at home so it was necessary to garrison most of the troops elsewhere. Stationing 10,000 troops to separate American Indians and frontiersmen was one role; the outbreak of Pontiac's Rebellion in May 1763 reinforced the logic of this decision, as it was an American Indian uprising against the British expansion. The main reason to send 10,000 troops deep into the wilderness was to provide billets for the officers who were part of the British patronage system.
John Adams said, "Revenue is still demanded from America, appropriated to the maintenance of swarms of officers and pensioners in idleness and luxury." George Grenville became prime minister in April 1763 after the failure of the short-lived Bute Ministry, he had to find a way to pay for this large peacetime army. Raising taxes in Britain was out of the question, since there had been virulent protests in England against the Bute ministry's 1763 cider tax, with Bute being hanged in effigy; the Grenville ministry therefore decided that Parliament would raise this revenue by taxing the American colonists without their consent. This was something new. Politicians in London had always expected American colonists to contribute to the cost of their own defense. So long as a French threat existed, there was little trouble convincing colonial legislatures to provide assistance; such help was provided through the raising of colonial militias, which were funded by taxes raised by colonial legislatures. The legislatures were sometimes willing to help maintain regular British units defending the colonies.
So long as this sort of help was forthcoming, there was little reason for the British Parliament to impose its own taxes on the colonists. But after the peace of 1763, colonial militias were stood down. Militia of
The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America, they defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War in alliance with others. Members of American colonial society argued the position of "no taxation without representation", starting with the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, they rejected the authority of the British Parliament to tax them because they lacked members in that governing body. Protests escalated to the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the burning of the Gaspee in Rhode Island in 1772, followed by the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, during which Patriots destroyed a consignment of taxed tea; the British responded by closing Boston Harbor followed with a series of legislative acts which rescinded Massachusetts Bay Colony's rights of self-government and caused the other colonies to rally behind Massachusetts. In late 1774, the Patriots set up their own alternative government to better coordinate their resistance efforts against Great Britain.
Tensions erupted into battle between Patriot militia and British regulars when the king's army attempted to capture and destroy Colonial military supplies at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The conflict developed into a global war, during which the Patriots fought the British and Loyalists in what became known as the American Revolutionary War; each of the thirteen colonies formed a Provincial Congress that assumed power from the old colonial governments and suppressed Loyalism, from there they built a Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington. The Continental Congress determined King George's rule to be tyrannical and infringing the colonists' rights as Englishmen, they declared the colonies free and independent states on July 2, 1776; the Patriot leadership professed the political philosophies of liberalism and republicanism to reject monarchy and aristocracy, they proclaimed that all men are created equal. The Continental Army forced the redcoats out of Boston in March 1776, but that summer the British captured and held New York City and its strategic harbor for the duration of the war.
The Royal Navy blockaded ports and captured other cities for brief periods, but they failed to defeat Washington's forces. The Patriots unsuccessfully attempted to invade Canada during the winter of 1775–76, but captured a British army at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. France now entered the war as an ally of the United States with a large army and navy that threatened Britain itself; the war turned to the American South where the British under the leadership of Charles Cornwallis captured an army at Charleston, South Carolina in early 1780 but failed to enlist enough volunteers from Loyalist civilians to take effective control of the territory. A combined American–French force captured a second British army at Yorktown in the fall of 1781 ending the war; the Treaty of Paris was signed September 3, 1783, formally ending the conflict and confirming the new nation's complete separation from the British Empire. The United States took possession of nearly all the territory east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, with the British retaining control of Canada and Spain taking Florida.
Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of the United States Constitution, establishing a strong federal national government that included an executive, a national judiciary, a bicameral Congress that represented states in the Senate and the population in the House of Representatives. The Revolution resulted in the migration of around 60,000 Loyalists to other British territories British North America; as early as 1651, the English government had sought to regulate trade in the American colonies. On October 9, the Navigation Acts were passed pursuant to a mercantilist policy intended to ensure that trade enriched only Great Britain, barring trade with foreign nations; some argue that the economic impact was minimal on the colonists, but the political friction which the acts triggered was more serious, as the merchants most directly affected were most politically active. King Philip's War ended in 1678, much of it was fought without significant assistance from England.
This contributed to the development of a unique identity from that of the British people. In the 1680s, King Charles II determined to bring the New England colonies under a more centralized administration in order to regulate trade more effectively, his efforts were fiercely opposed by the colonists, resulting in the abrogation of their colonial charter by the Crown. Charles' successor James II finalized these efforts in 1686, establishing the Dominion of New England. Dominion rule triggered bitter resentment throughout New England. New Englanders were encouraged, however, by a change of government in England that saw James II abdicate, a populist uprising overthrew Dominion rule on April 18, 1689. Colonial governments reasserted their control in the wake of the revolt, successive governments made no more attempts to restore the Dominion. Subsequent English governments continued in their efforts to tax certain goods, passing acts regulating the trade of wool and molasses; the Molasses Act of 1733 in particular was egregious to the colonists, as a significant part of colonial trade relied on the product.
The taxes damaged the N
First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies who met from September 5 to October 26, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament, which the British referred to as the Coercive Acts, with which the British intended to punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party; the Congress met to consider options, including an economic boycott of British trade and drawing up a list of rights and grievances. The Congress called for another Continental Congress in the event that their petition was unsuccessful in halting enforcement of the Intolerable Acts, their appeal to the Crown had no effect, so the Second Continental Congress was convened the following year to organize the defense of the colonies at the onset of the American Revolutionary War. The delegates urged each colony to set up and train its own militia; the Congress met from September 5 to October 26, 1774.
Peyton Randolph presided over the proceedings. Charles Thomson, leader of the Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, was selected to be Secretary of the Continental Congress; the delegates who attended were not of one mind concerning. Conservatives such as Joseph Galloway, John Dickinson, John Jay, Edward Rutledge believed their task to be forging policies to pressure Parliament to rescind its unreasonable acts, their ultimate goal was to develop a reasonable solution to the difficulties and bring about reconciliation between the Colonies and Great Britain. Others such as Patrick Henry, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, John Adams believed their task to be developing a decisive statement of the rights and liberties of the Colonies, their ultimate goal was to end what they felt to be the abuses of parliamentary authority, to retain their rights, guaranteed under both Colonial charters and the English constitution. Roger Sherman denied the legislative authority of Parliament, Patrick Henry believed that the Congress needed to develop a new system of government, independent from Great Britain, for the existing Colonial governments were dissolved.
In contrast to these ideas, Joseph Galloway put forward a "Plan of Union" which suggested that an American legislative body be formed with some authority, whose consent would be required for imperial measures. In the end, the voices of compromise carried the day. Rather than calling for independence, the First Continental Congress passed and signed the Continental Association in its Declaration and Resolves, which called for a boycott of British goods to take effect in December 1774, it requested that local Committees of Safety enforce the boycott and regulate local prices for goods. These resolutions adopted by the Congress did not endorse any legal power of Parliament to regulate trade, but consented, nonetheless, to the operation of acts for that purpose. Furthermore, they did not repudiate control by the royal prerogative, explicitly acknowledged in the Petition to the King a few days later; the Congress had two primary accomplishments. The first was a compact among the Colonies to boycott British goods beginning on December 1, 1774.
The West Indies were threatened with a boycott unless the islands agreed to non-importation of British goods. Imports from Britain dropped by 97 percent compared with the previous year. Committees of observation and inspection were to be formed in each Colony to ensure compliance with the boycott. All of the Colonial Houses of Assembly approved the proceedings of the Congress, with the exception of New York. If the Intolerable Acts were not repealed, the Colonies would cease exports to Britain after September 10, 1775; the boycott was implemented, but its potential for altering British colonial policy was cut off by the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The second accomplishment of the Congress was to provide for a Second Continental Congress to meet on May 10, 1775. In addition to the Colonies which had sent delegates to the First Continental Congress, the Congress resolved on October 21, 1774, to send letters of invitation to Quebec, Saint John's Island, Nova Scotia, East Florida, West Florida.
However, letters appear to have been sent only to Quebec. None of these other colonies sent delegates to the opening of the Second Congress, though a delegation from Georgia arrived the following July. List of delegates to the Continental and Confederation congresses Papers of the Continental Congress Timeline of United States revolutionary history Bancroft, George. History of the United States of America, from the discovery of the American continent. Vol 4-10 online edition Burnett, Edmund C.. The Continental Congress. Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 0-8371-8386-3. Henderson, H. James. Party Politics in the Continental Congress. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8191-6525-5. Launitz-Schurer, Loyal Whigs and Revolutionaries, The making of the revolution in New York, 1765-1776, 1980, ISBN 0-8147-4994-1 Ketchum, Divided Loyalties, How the American Revolution came to New York, 2002, ISBN 0-8050-6120-7 Miller, John C. Origins of the American Revolution online edition Puls, Samuel Adams, father of the American Revolution, 2006, ISBN 1-4039-7582-5 Montross, Lynn.
The Reluctant Rebels. Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-389-03973-X. Primary sourcesPeter Force, ed. American Archives, 9 vol 1837-1853, major compilation of documents 1774-1776
Battle of Machias
The Battle of Machias was the first naval engagement of the American Revolutionary War known as the Battle of the Margaretta, fought around the port of Machias, Maine. Following the outbreak of the war, British authorities enlisted Loyalist merchant Ichabod Jones to supply the troops who were under the Siege of Boston. Two of his merchant ships arrived in Machias on June 2, 1775, accompanied by the British armed sloop HMS Margaretta, commanded by Midshipman James Moore; the townspeople of Machias arrested him. They tried to arrest Moore, but he escaped through the harbor; the townspeople seized one of Jones' ships, armed it alongside a second local ship, sailed out to meet Moore. After a short confrontation, Moore was fatally wounded, his vessel and crew were captured; the people of Machias captured additional British ships, fought off a large force that tried to take control of the town in the Battle of Machias in 1777. Privateers and others operating out of Machias continued to harass the Royal Navy throughout the war.
The American Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775 with the Battles of Lexington and Concord in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, after which the Continental Army under the command of George Washington besieged the British army in the Siege of Boston. The besieged British were led by General Thomas Gage and Admiral Samuel Graves, both did business with the people of Machias. Gage required lumber to build barracks for the additional troops arriving in the besieged city, Graves wanted to recover the guns from the HMS Halifax shipwreck, intentionally run aground in Machias Bay by a local pilot in February 1775; the ship's guns were reported to be of interest to the Patriots of Machias. Graves authorized Machias merchant Ichabod Jones to carry flour and other food supplies to Machias aboard his ships Unity and Polly, which would be exchanged for Gage's needed lumber. To guarantee that this trade would happen, Graves sent Midshipman James Moore from his flagship HMS Preston to command the armed schooner HMS Margaretta and accompany the two merchant vessels.
Moore had additional orders to retrieve. On June 2, 1775, Jones' ships arrived in the port at Machias. However, they were met with resistance from the townspeople when Jones refused to sell his pork and flour unless he was allowed to load lumber for Boston. In a meeting on June 6, 1775, the townspeople voted against doing business with Jones; the hostile climate forced Jones to take action by ordering Moore to bring Margaretta within firing distance of the town. The threat prompted the townspeople to meet for a second time, they voted to permit trade. Unity was docked at the wharf to begin unloading the supplies. Following the vote, Jones announced that he would only do business with those who had voted in favor of trade; this angered those. As a result, Colonel Benjamin Foster, a local militia leader, conspired with militia from neighboring towns to capture Jones, This was inspired by the actions of the Brunswick militiamen in Thompson's War a month earlier. Foster's plan was to seize Jones at church on June 11, but the plan failed when Jones noticed the group of men approaching the building.
Moore managed to get back to his ship, while Jones escaped into the woods and did not emerge until two days later. The men of Machias regrouped the next day, Foster took around 20 men, including his brother, Wooden Foster, to East Machias where they seized Unity and constructed deck breastworks to serve as protection, they commandeered a local schooner named Falmouth Packet. The other militia men traveled on land to find the place where Margaretta was anchored and demanded surrender. After refusing to surrender, Moore sailed to where Polly was attempted to recover her. There was an inconsequential exchange of gunfire with the militia men who were located on the shore, Moore was able to raise anchor and travel to a safe anchorage; the remaining men armed themselves with muskets and axes to set out after Margaretta. After escaping the Machias men, Margaretta was forced to jibe into brisk winds, which resulted in the main boom and gaff breaking away, crippling its navigability. Once Moore was in Holmes Bay he took its spar and gaff to replace Margaretta's.
Moore took its pilot, Robert Avery, captive. Unity crew of about 30 Machias men elected Jeremiah O'Brien as their captain and sailed out to chase down Margaretta. Since Unity was a much faster sailing vessel, O'Brien's crew caught up to the crippled Margaretta, while Falmouth Packet lagged behind. Upon seeing Unity approaching, Moore opened full sail and cut away his boats in an attempt to escape; as Unity pulled closer, Moore opened fire. Unity crew pulled alongside Margaretta. Led by Joseph Getchell and O'Brien's brother, Unity crew stormed on board. Both sides exchanged musket shots. Moore was taken down by Samuel Watts with a musket shot to the chest. Once Falmouth Packet caught up to the attack, it managed to pull along the other side of Moore's ship. With the combination of both crews, they were able to overwhelm Margaretta. Since Moore was grievously wounded in the battle, his second-in-command, Midshipman Richard Stillingfleet, surrendered the crew and the vessel. Moore was put into the care of Ichabod Jones's nephew, Stephen Jones.
However, Moore's wounds were too severe and he died the following day. Three other members of Moore's crew were killed, including Robert Avery; the remaining crew members of the British schooner were held at Machias for a month handed
The Townshend Acts were a series of British Acts of Parliament passed during 1767 and 1768 and relating to the British in North America. The acts are named after Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed the program. Historians vary as to which acts they include under the heading "Townshend Acts", but five acts are mentioned: The New York Restraining Act 1767 The Revenue Act 1767 The Indemnity Act 1767 The Commissioners of Customs Act 1767 The Vice Admiralty Court Act 1768 The purposes of the Townshend Acts were To raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would remain loyal to Great Britain To create more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations To punish the Province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act To establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the coloniesThe Townshend Acts were met with resistance in the colonies, which resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770.
The Townshend Acts placed an indirect tax on glass, paints and tea. These goods had to be imported from Britain; this form of revenue generation was Townshend's response to the failure of the Stamp Act of 1765, which had provided the first form of direct taxation placed upon the colonies. However, the import duties proved to be controversial. Colonial indignation over the Townshend Acts was predominantly driven by John Dickinson's anonymous publication of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, as well as the Massachusetts Circular Letter; as a result of widespread protest and non-importation of British goods in colonial ports, Parliament began to repeal the Townshend duties. In March 1770, most of the indirect taxes from the Townshend Acts were repealed by Parliament under Frederick, Lord North. However, the import duty on tea was retained in order to demonstrate to the colonists that Parliament held the sovereign authority to tax its colonies, in accordance with the Declaratory Act of 1766; the British government continued to try to tax the colonists without providing representation in Parliament.
Resentment and corrupt and abusive enforcement spurred colonial attacks on British ships, including the burning of the Gaspee in 1772. Retaining the Townshend Acts' taxation on imported tea, enforced once again by the Tea Act of 1773, subsequently led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773, in which Bostonians destroyed a shipment of taxed tea. Parliament responded with severe punishments in the Intolerable Acts in 1774; the Thirteen Colonies drilled their militia units, tensions escalated into violence in April 1775, launching the American Revolution. Following the Seven Years' War, the British government was deep in debt. To pay a small fraction of the costs of the newly expanded empire, the Parliament of Great Britain decided to levy new taxes on the colonies of British America. Through the Trade and Navigation Acts, Parliament had used taxation to regulate the trade of the empire, but with the Sugar Act of 1764, Parliament sought, for the first time, to tax the colonies for the specific purpose of raising revenue.
American colonists argued. The Americans claimed they were not represented in Parliament, but the British government retorted that they had "virtual representation", a concept the Americans rejected; this issue, only debated following the Sugar Act, became a major point of contention after Parliament's passage of the Stamp Act 1765. The Stamp Act proved to be wildly unpopular in the colonies, contributing to its repeal the following year, along with the failure to raise substantial revenue. Implicit in the Stamp Act dispute was an issue more fundamental than taxation and representation: the question of the extent of Parliament's authority in the colonies. Parliament provided its answer to this question when it repealed the Stamp Act in 1766 by passing the Declaratory Act, which proclaimed that Parliament could legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever"; this was the first of the five acts, passed on June 5, 1767. It forbade the New York Assembly and the governor of New York from passing any new bills until they agreed to comply with the Quartering Act 1765, which required them to pay for and provide housing and supplies for British troops in the colony.
New York resisted the Quartering Act because it amounted to taxation without representation, since they had no representatives in Parliament. Further, New York and the other colonies did not believe British soldiers were any longer necessary in the colonies, since the French and Indian War had come to an end. However, New York reluctantly agreed to pay for at least some of the soldiers' needs as they understood they were going to be punished by Parliament unless they acted; the New York Restraining Act was never implemented. This was the second of the five acts, passed on June 26, 1767, it placed taxes on glass, painters' colors, paper. It gave customs officials broad authority to enforce the taxes and punish smugglers through the use of "writs of assistance", general warrants that could be used to search private property for smuggled goods. There was an angry response from colonists, who deemed the taxes a threat to their rights as British subjects; the use of writs of assistance was controversial, since the right to be secure in one's private property was an established right in Britain.
This act was the third act, passed on June 29, 1767, the same day as the Commissioners of Customs Act.'Indemnity' means
Suffolk Resolves House
The Suffolk Resolves House is the building where the Suffolk Resolves were signed on September 4, 1774. The Resolves were an important predecessor document to the Declaration of Independence. At that time, it was owned by Daniel Vose, who at his marriage had combined two existing buildings to make one house; the two parts are shown in the two gallery photographs. To prevent its demolition in 1950, Dr. and Mrs. James Bourne Ayer moved it from its original location on Adams Street to its present location, they had it restored by William Morris Hunt and gave it to the Milton Historical Society, for which it serves as headquarters. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 23, 1973. National Register of Historic Places listings in Milton, Massachusetts
Battle of Bunker Hill
The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775, during the Siege of Boston in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after Bunker Hill in Charlestown, peripherally involved in the battle, it was the original objective of both the colonial and British troops, though the majority of combat took place on the adjacent hill which became known as Breed's Hill. On June 13, 1775, the leaders of the colonial forces besieging Boston learned that the British were planning to send troops out from the city to fortify the unoccupied hills surrounding the city, which would give them control of Boston Harbor. In response, 1,200 colonial troops under the command of William Prescott stealthily occupied Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill. During the night, the colonists constructed a strong redoubt on Breed's Hill, as well as smaller fortified lines across the Charlestown Peninsula. By daybreak of June 17, the British became aware of the presence of colonial forces on the Peninsula and mounted an attack against them that day.
Two assaults on the colonial positions were repulsed with significant British casualties. The colonists retreated to Cambridge over Bunker Hill, leaving the British in control of the Peninsula; the battle was a tactical, though somewhat Pyrrhic victory for the British, as it proved to be a sobering experience for them, involving many more casualties than the Americans had incurred, including a large number of officers. The battle had demonstrated that inexperienced militia were able to stand up to regular army troops in battle. Subsequently, the battle discouraged the British from any further frontal attacks against well defended front lines. American casualties were comparatively much fewer, although their losses included General Joseph Warren and Major Andrew McClary, the final casualty of the battle; the battle led the British to adopt a more cautious planning and maneuver execution in future engagements, evident in the subsequent New York and New Jersey campaign, arguably helped rather than hindered the American forces.
Their new approach to battle was giving the Americans greater opportunity to retreat if defeat was imminent. The costly engagement convinced the British of the need to hire substantial numbers of foreign mercenaries to bolster their strength in the face of the new and formidable Continental Army. Boston, situated on a peninsula, was protected from close approach by the expanses of water surrounding it, which were dominated by British warships. In the aftermath of the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the colonial militia, a force of about 15,000 men, had surrounded the town, besieged it. Under the command of Artemas Ward, they controlled the only land access to Boston itself, lacking a navy, were unable to contest British domination of the waters of the harbor; the British troops, a force of about 6,000 under the command of General Thomas Gage, occupied the city, were able to be resupplied and reinforced by sea. In theory, they were thus able to remain in Boston indefinitely.
However, the land across the water from Boston contained a number of hills, which could be used to advantage. If the militia could obtain enough artillery pieces, these could be placed on the hills and used to bombard the city until the occupying army evacuated it or surrendered, it was with this in mind that the Knox Expedition, led by Henry Knox transported cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to the Boston area. The Charlestown Peninsula, lying to the north of Boston, started from a short, narrow isthmus at its northwest and extended about 1 mile southeastward into Boston Harbor. Bunker Hill, with an elevation of 110 feet, lay at the northern end of the peninsula. Breed's Hill, at a height of 62 feet, was more nearer to Boston; the town of Charlestown occupied flats at the southern end of the peninsula. At its closest approach, less than 1,000 feet separated the Charlestown Peninsula from the Boston Peninsula, where Copp's Hill was at about the same height as Breed's Hill. While the British retreat from Concord had ended in Charlestown, General Gage, rather than fortifying the hills on the peninsula, had withdrawn those troops to Boston the day after that battle, turning the entire Charlestown Peninsula into a no man's land.
Throughout May, in response to orders from Gage requesting support, the British received reinforcements, until they reached a strength of about 6,000 men. On May 25, three generals arrived on HMS Cerberus: William Howe, John Burgoyne, Henry Clinton. Gage began planning with them to break out of the city, finalizing a plan on June 12; this plan began with the taking of the Dorchester Neck, fortifying the Dorchester Heights, marching on the colonial forces stationed in Roxbury. Once the southern flank had been secured, the Charlestown heights would be taken, the forces in Cambridge driven away; the attack was set for June 18. On June 13, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was notified, by express messenger from the Committee of Safety in Exeter, New Hampshire, that a New Hampshire gentleman "of undoubted veracity" had, while visiting Boston, overheard the British commanders making plans to capture Dorchester and Charlestown. On June 15, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety decided that additional defenses needed to be erected.
General Ward directed General Israel Putnam to set up defenses on the Charlestown Peninsula on Bunker Hill. On the night of June 16, colonial Colonel William Prescott led about 1,200 men onto the peninsula in order to set up positions from which artillery fire could be directed