In the years preceding the American Revolution, tensions in the colony of Massachusetts, and especially in the city of Boston, had been growing. Boston was one of the main shipping ports for the British into the American colonies and because of that, was the hub of resistance against unfair British taxation on the colonists imposed by the British Parliament in the 1760s. The tensions boiled to the surface on March 5, 1770, in front of what became the old state house, when British troops fired on American colonists killing five in an event that would be known as the Boston Massacre. 

In 1768, the Townshend Acts, which, after the “Stamp Act” began the era of “Taxation Without Representation” were enacted upon the American colonies. Many of the common items that were manufactured in Britain and exported to the colonies were subjected to import tariffs. Colonists objected that the Townshend Acts were a violation of the natural, charter, and constitutional rights of British subjects in the colonies. And that was just the beginning.

The colonists called for action and the Massachusetts House of Representatives drafted a document called the “Massachusetts Circular Letter” and sent a letter directly to King George wherein they demanded that parliament rescind the Townshend Acts. The letter was sent to the other colonial assemblies asking them to join in boycotting any British merchants who imported these goods.

Lord Hillsborough, the new colonial secretary for the British Parliament in London, directed the colonial governors to order all colonial assemblies to dissolve if they answered the Massachusetts Circular Letter. He also ordered the Massachusetts House to rescind the letter through Governor Francis Bernard. The Massachusetts House refused.