January 17th: Benjamin Franklin is born in Boston, Massachusetts, one of 17 children of Josiah Franklin, a soap and candle manufacturer.
February 22nd: George Washington is born in Westmoreland county on the eastern coast of Virginia.
March: The British parliament passes the Molasses Act. This legislation imposes a duty of sixpence per gallon on molasses and sugar imported from non-British colonies. It is intended to make British products cheaper than French products.
January 29th: Thomas Pain (later Paine) is born in the town of Thetford in north east England.
April 13th: Thomas Jefferson is born in Shadwell, northern Virginia.
October: French political philosopher Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, publishes his essay De l’Esprit des Lois (‘The Spirit of the Laws’). It argues that a formal separation of powers is necessary to ensure free and effective government.
April 12th: London passes the Iron Act. This legislation increases exports of raw iron from America but places restrictions on the colonial production of manufactured iron goods.
September 25th: The British parliament passes the Currency Act, banning the issuing of paper currency in the New England colonies.
August: The Liberty Bell, a gift from England to Pennsylvania, arrives in Philadelphia. It is hung in the building now known as Independence Hall.
May 28th: George Washington, then a colonial in the Virginia militia, orders an attack on a French force in western Pennsylvania. This attack contributes to the outbreak of the French and Indian War.
June 19th: The Albany Congress meets in upstate New York to discuss the growing crisis, including French military threats and relations with Native Americans. It is attended by delegates from the seven northernmost colonies.
July 3rd: French colonial forces attack Fort Necessity, where Washington and his men had taken cover. The fort falls and Washington is forced to surrender.
July 11th: The Albany Congress closes, having adopted Benjamin Franklin’s plan to unify the colonies. Franklin’s proposal is later rejected by the state assemblies.
July 9th: A British and colonial force engages French and Native Americans on the Monongahela River. General Edward Braddock, the commander in chief of British forces in North America, is fatally wounded and dies four days later.
May 18th: Britain formally declares war on France. The French and Indian War in North America becomes the Seven Years’ War, a true ‘world war’.
January: The British national debt stands in excess of £122 million.
February 10th: The signing of the Treaty of Paris, which formally ends the Seven Years’ War. France cedes control of its territories in North America and Canada to Britain.
February: Westminster decides that a standing army of 10,000 men should remain in America, to protect against native unrest.
April 13th: George III appoints George Grenville, later the architect of the Stamp Act, as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
May 9th: The Native American leader Pontiac lays siege to Fort Detroit, overruns the fort and massacres its inhabitants. This marks the start of Pontiac’s Rebellion, a series of attacks against British forts and settlements by a coalition of native tribes.
October 7th: Britain’s King George III issues a Royal Proclamation that restricts settlement or new land claims west of the Appalachians (land acquired from France in the Treaty of Paris).
November: The British garrison some 7,500 regular troops along the western border to deal with further Native American uprisings.
December 14th: The ‘Paxton Boys’, British settlers in remote western Pennsylvania, launch a series of murderous raids against Native American tribes, in retaliation for Pontiac’s Rebellion.
January: The Paxton Boys march on Philadelphia to accuse the Pennsylvanian colonial government of failing to protect them. They are met by Benjamin Franklin and other delegates, who agree to consider their grievances.
April 5th: The British parliament passes the Sugar Act. This act lowers the duty on sugar and molasses imports but strengthens measures for its collection, at attempt to reduce smuggling.
June: Massachusetts convenes a committee to circulate information about the Sugar Act. Other colonies follow suit.
September 1st: London passes another Currency Act, a measure extending British control over the issuance of colonial currency.
October: The colonial assemblies in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and North Carolina all petition the British government, calling for the repeal of the Sugar Act.
December: Petitions and private letters protesting the Sugar Act arrive in London from the American colonies.