The Suffolk Resolves was a declaration that led to several British American colonies to declare their grievances against Britain. This created a push to unify the colonies and increased support for an armed rebellion. Ultimately, this led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolutionary War.


The Suffolk Resolves were a response by the leaders of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, to the political and situation created by the rising tensions between the British and Colonial governments. In the 1770s, increased taxation was deemed unjust and created unrest among the colonists, causing several protests, the most notable of which was the Boston Tea Party, when an entire shipment of tea was destroyed. In 1774, the British Parliament responded by passing a set of punitive laws, known as the Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts, aiming to suppress unrest. These laws severely limited the colonists’ rights and gave more power to the royally-appointed governor, made trials of accused royal officials more complicated, and allowed British troops to be housed in America more easily.

The Intolerable Acts were seen as a significant violation of the colonists’ rights in Massachusetts. Thus, the Suffolk Resolves denounced the Coercive Acts as “gross infractions of those rights to which we are justly entitled by the laws of nature, the British Constitution, and the charter of the province.” The declaration urged “no obedience” to any of the Acts, and further recommended that no taxes are to be paid, and no commerce be done with “Great Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies,” effectively proposing a boycott against those countries. Furthermore, it expressed alarm at the British military fortification at Boston Neck and voiced suspicions of a possible invasion. In light of this, the Suffolk Resolves advocated for the raising of a colonial militia force to defend against such an invasion. It urged all other British counties to take similar steps and proposed holding a Provincial Congress to discuss unified action. This proposition of the Suffolk Resolves led to the assembly of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

The other colonies, which may not have been directly affected by the Coercive acts, still viewed them as a potential threat to their rights and freedoms. This led them to follow the Suffolk Resolves with their own declarations of rights and grievances against the British Crown. Thus, for the colonists, the Suffolk Resolves created a strong reason to unite and create a single governing body, the Congress.

Twelve of the Thirteen British Colonies sent their delegates, with Georgia refusing to join until the following year, 1775. At the First Congress, the colonial leaders made another demand to repeal the Intolerable Acts, reinforced with an official boycott against the British. Despite the severity of the demands, however, the colonies wished to maintain relationships with Britain. Those measures had no effect on the Acts, and in February 1775, Massachusetts was declared to be in a state of rebellion, and military hostilities began.

The Suffolk Resolves were important because this declaration was a major step towards the unification of the colonies and the eventual signing of the Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, it solidified the colonists’ sentiments regarding British rule and created a consolidated opposition to it. Finally, it led to the creation of the first united governing body of the Thirteen Colonies, the Continental Congress.

Suffolk Resolves House Milton Photo
By Jameslwoodward – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org