Today’s Keyhole to History October 1753, George Washington signs a message “Washington or Conotocarious.” to Seneca Half-King Tanaghrission while at Logstown. Tanaghrission represented Indian interests in Logstown, a multitribal trading center for English traders and Indians in the upper Ohio Valley. Two years later, Washington again used his Native American name “Conotocarious” meaning “Town Destroyer” when writing to Andrew Montour an agent and Indian interpreter. During the American Revolution, the Iroquois called him “Devourer of Villages.” Washington probably assumed the name “Conotacarious” originally given to his great grandfather Colonel John Washington by the Susquehannocks in the 1670s

Keyhole to History: January 6, 1759. That’s the day that George Washington wed a rich widow named Martha Custis in New Kent County, Virginia. Colonel George Washington was then a member of the First Virginia Regiment in the colonial militia, and, as a sign of things to come, he wore his full dress uniform to his wedding, never suspecting that he would spend most of his married life in uniform. Martha decided to be by her husband’s side while he was camped in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. There was little she could do to fight the hunger, but she decided to spearhead an effort to organize women’s sewing circles and night after night she sat by the fire knitting wool stockings for the soldiers. Martha Washington was a shining example for the other officers’ wives.

Today’s Keyhole to History October 7 King George III issues The Royal Proclamation of 1763 to establish restrictions on expansion of the 13 North American colonies. Colonists were forbidden from settling west of an established proclamation line running north to south along the Appalachian Mountains. Citizens and colonial governments were not allowed to make agreements with tribal nations and only licensed traders could trade in the West. Settlers living in western territories were evicted. By reserving western lands for Indian use, the British addressed the violence between the Indians and settlers, sought to simplify colonial administration and reduce military costs. The Proclamation is considered the first British policy to set the colonies on a path to revolution.

Today’s Keyhole to History we hear “taxation without representation” as colonists protest The Stamp Act passed by Parliament on March 22, 1765. The new tax was represented by a stamp on papers, documents, playing cards, and dice. Payable in British sterling, it was a direct tax on colonists. Tax monies would reimburse Britain for military costs in the colonies during the Seven Years’ War. While James Otis, a Massachusetts House Representative, is credited with the phrase, he is unlikely the author of the slogan but deserves credit for the idea. In 1764 Otis wrote, “the very act of taxing, exercising over those who are not represented, appears to me to be depriving them of one of their most essential rights.”

Keyhole to History: November 1, 1765. That’s when the Stamp Act went into effect and the American colonists refused to use the stamps, thus bringing almost all trade to a standstill. Just weeks earlier, the Stamp Act Congress met in New York with delegates from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. It was at this historic meeting that the phrase “taxation without representation” was first used in an official document that was forwarded to King George III and the English Parliament. The delegates to this convention returned to their colonies and, in a show of non-violent unity, had their leading citizens sign resolutions which forbade the purchase of English trade goods until the Stamp Act was repealed.

Today’s Keyhole to History takes us to 1767 when the British Parliament passed a series of acts known as the Townshend Acts. These acts imposed taxes on imported British goods such as paint, lead, china and tea. The British chose these goods because they felt they would be difficult for American’s to produce on their own. These acts deeply angered the colonists, especially since they lacked representation in Parliament. Famous pamphlets, such as “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania” by John Dickinson began circulating around the colonies in response, and the colonists began boycotting British goods. While most of the Townshend Acts were repealed in 1770, lines had already been drawn and tensions between the British and the colonies would only continue to worsen in the years ahead.

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