1215 -- The Magna Carta is signed by King John. The original is on display in the British Museum while a 1291 copy is in the U.S. National Archives. The Magna Carta include two major promises: The king won't be the law, or above the law, but will obey the law like everyone else. A governing body, rather than the king, will determine taxes. 1620 -- The Mayflower Compact is signed by "Separatists and Strangers" who agree to follow all of the laws of the new government they will create. 1639 -- The Connecticut Council adopts the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. 1641 -- The Massachusetts Body of Liberties is passed, which contained 23 rights that later make it into the U.S. Bill of Rights. 1689 -- The English Bill of Rights is signed. 1690s -- John Locke, an English philosopher, writes his essays on social contract theory. 1754 -- The French and Indian War begins, placing England and the American Colonies at war against the French. By 1756, it has spread to Europe, where it becomes known as the Seven Years War. 1760 -- George III becomes King of England. 1761 -- The British Parliament passes Writs of Assistance, which allow British government officials to search anyone at any time on the pretense of looking for smuggled goods. 1763 -- The French and Indian War ends, and England expects the American Colonies to pay the costs through increased taxes. 1764 -- Three major events take place. In April, the British Parliament passes the Sugar Act, further taxing sugar, coffee, wines, and other items coming into the colonies. In May, James Otis of Massachusetts complains of "taxation without representation" and recommends boycotting British goods in response to the Sugar Act. In September, the Currency Act is passed by the British Parliament, prohibiting the colonists from printing their own paper money. 1765 -- Several events take place in 1765. William Blackstone writes his Commentaries on the Laws of England, which will become a foundation for law in America. The Quartering Act is passed by the British Parliament in March, requiring colonists to house and feed British troops who are said to be protecting them. The Stamp Act is also passed that month, becoming the first direct tax on the colonists. It taxes legal documents, newspapers, dice, playing cards, and many other products. In April, the colonists learn of the Stamp Act, and are outraged at the idea that the British Parliament is taxing them rather then letting them tax themselves. Riots occur throughout the colonies in response. In May, Patrick Henry gives a speech to the Virginia Burgesses, and responds to cries of "treason" with "If this be treason, make the most of it." In July, Samuel Adams assembles a secret organization of colonists known as the Sons of Liberty in order to protest the Stamp Act and other recent acts of the British Parliament. Similar groups soon form in other colonies. In October, the Stamp Act Congress meets in New York to discuss the actions that the colonies should take in reaction to the Stamp Act. Nine of the thirteen colonies are represented. They write up a "declaration of rights" to petition the British king and Parliament. In November, the Stamp Act goes into effect, and is viewed as a day of mourning throughout the colonies. Most businesses are closed, and the colonists are nearly united in opposition to it, and in favor of resisting the tax. 1766 -- The Stamp Act is repealed by King George in March, and the colonial boycott of British imports is lifted after more than a year. Bostonians celebrate on the Boston Commons. 1767 -- In June of 1767, Parliament passes the Townshend Acts, largely in order to establish that they still have the right and the willingness to tax the colonists. It taxes glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. 1768 - Two major events take place. In August of 1768, in response to the Townshend Acts, New York and Boston merchants agree to boycott British goods again. Between September and October of 1768, when riots and protests begin, and the harassment of British government officials become large problems in Boston, more than a thousand British troops are landed there, supposedly to "keep the peace." 1769 -- George Mason and George Washington present the Virginia Resolves to the Virginia House of Burgesses, opposing taxation without representation. Virginia agrees to join the boycott of British goods.