Timeline: 1771 to 1780

1771  By the Gamtoos River, clashes occur between Xhosa people and Dutch trekkers (pastoral wagon pullers).

1772  Oxygen is discovered by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Europeans have been investigating the properties of gasses.

1773  A Baptist Church for black slaves is founded is South Carolina Colony.

1773  Tea selling businessmen in Boston are upset because the British East India Company has been given the right to sell tea directly to the colonists and at a cheaper price. The business men have begun a boycott of the East India Company's tea along the Atlantic coast. They disguise themselves as Indians and throw 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor – to be known as the Boston Tea Party.

1774  An English chemist, Joseph Priestly, independently discovers oxygen.

1774  King George III of Britain decides to punish lawbreakers in the colonies. He closes Boston Harbor and expands the powers of his governor in Massachusetts. Local elections in Massachusetts are curtailed. Town meetings are forbidden and colonists are obliged to pay for the tea dumped into the bay. Many throughout the colonies feel threatened. Delegates from the colonies meet at the "First Continental Congress" to discuss grievances. The Congress drafts a letter that is sent to the king.

1774  An expedition led by Britain's Captain James Cook returns to Tahiti.

1774  Granted permission to observe the dissection of an executed woman, a small group of Edoscholars realize their understanding of human anatomy (based on Chinese theory) is wrong. What they witness corresponds to a Dutch book on anatomy owned by one of the scholars, Dr. Sugita Genpaku.

1775  Concerned about colonist violence, a contingent of 2,000 "redcoat" soldiers is sent to the town of Concord to confiscate munitions. They are shot at and shoot back. The soldiers suffer 72 dead and the colonists 49. Emotions among the colonists flare. Fighting erupts in New York colony and in Massachusetts at Breeds Hill, to be known as the Battle of Bunker Hill.

1776 (Feb)  The first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, is published. Part of the Enlightenment, it describes the rise of Christianity (within the Roman Empire) in terms of behavior of people rather than godly miracles.

1776  Britain's Adam Smith proposes a broader way of looking at wealth. His book, Wealth of Nations is published. He sees wealth as more than precious metals and stones. He proposes that more wealth to common people would benefit Britain's economy and society. He sees consumers choosing to buy the products of competing businessmen as favorable regulation.   

1776  George Washington stops his routine toasting of George III at the army officer dinners. A second Continental Congress meets and on July 4 declares independence. The declaration is recognized in Britain as an act of rebellion. Ranking members of the Anglican Church in the colonies remain loyal, as do many wealthy businessmen and humble farmers and shopkeepers.

1777  Vermont establishes itself as a colony with a constitution that abolishes slavery, institutes universal manhood suffrage and requires support for public education.

1777  The French have remained neutral regarding the rebellion in Britain's colonies, but they have been supplying the rebels with guns and gunpowder. French volunteers begin joining the ranks of the revolutionaries, including a 20-year-old, the Marquis de Lafayette, who is seeking revenge for the death of his father and for France's loss of territory from the Seven Years' War.

1778  South Carolina becomes the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation (Feb 5).

1778  France signs an alliance with the American rebel force and recognizes the United States of America as a sovereign nation on February 5. On July 5, France's king, Louis XVI, declares war on Britain.

1778  British ships land at Savannah (Decembr 29). A force of between 2500 and 3600 troops, which includes Britain's 71st Highland regiment, New York Loyalists, and Hessian mercenaries, begins a campaign in the South.

1778  Two ships under the command of Captain James Cook, sailing from Tahiti, arrive in the Hawaiian Islands, perhaps the first Europeans to visit these islands. Cook finds a tribal and religious people. He was already experienced with Polynesians and thought of them as generally intelligent. Cook and company find the Hawaiians with a different sense of property than Europeans, what Europeans would describe as thievery.

1779  A rebel force defeats a combined Indian and Loyalist force at what today is Elmira, New York (Aug 29). Following their victory, the rebels head northwest in retaliation against a campaign of terror against settlers. They destroy nearly 40 Cayuga and Seneca Indian villages.

1779  On Africa's Atlantic coast, Luanda has become the leading point of departure for slaves. Power there is measured by the number of slaves one owns. A businessman might own fifty slaves while the owner of a great spread of land might own more than a thousand. Slave labor in the city constructs buildings and paved roads.

1779  The Dutch have claimed their eastern boundary in South Africa 200 miles beyond their previous boundary, the Gamtoos River. Another war has begun with the Xhosa.

1779  On his second visit to the Hawaiian Islands, Captain Cook is killed during a conflict over one of his small boats taken by islanders.

1779  In Japan, forest inventory and production planning begin.

1780  The state of Pennsylvania passes a law freeing children born of slaves. Those born prior to the Act are to remain enslaved for life.

1780  George Washington's most trusted general, General Gates, is chasing the British through the woods of South Carolina, into Virginia and back again into North Carolina. The British are low on supplies, stealing from the Americans and enraging them.

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