Historical Primary Source

A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms – July 6, 1775

If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason to believe, that the divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the inhabitants of these colonies might at least require from the parliament of Great-Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverance for our Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end. The legislature of Great-Britain, however, stimulated by an inordinate passion for a power not only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by the very constitution of that kingdom, and desparate of success in any mode of contest, where regard should be had to truth, law, or right, have at length, deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and impolitic purpose of enslaving these colonies by violence, and have thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal from reason to arms. – Yet, however blinded that assembly may be, by their intemperate rage for unlimited domination, so to sight justice and the opinion of mankind, we esteem ourselves bound by obligations of respect to the rest of the world, to make known the justice of our cause.

Read more

The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Part 2: The Widening Frontier :: Trans-Appalachian Frontier, People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850 by Malcolm J. Rohrbough

Note: These questions will be explored in this entire section, not just this introduction.

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “The government’s impact on families, communities, and businesses west of the mountains had far exceeded issues of relations with Indian peoples, significant as those were.”
  • “This portion of the story opens on a world of a vast open and varied landscape; it closes on the increasing presence on the land of numbers of small settlements that represented the harbingers of American presence.”
  • “Yet over the next decade, the influence of the federal government intruded into a wide range of areas that no one (least of all the Jeffersonians) could have anticipated at the turn of the century.”
  • “As the influence of the federal government moved well beyond the issues of the Northwest and Land Ordinances, a curious contradiction emerged.”

Thought Questions

  • In what ways did the trans-Appalachian frontier “widen” in the period from 1795 to 1815?
  • Compare and Contrast: Northern population growth and Southern population growth in the trans-Appalachian frontier in this period
  • What was the defining characteristic(s) that separated northern and southern trans-Appalachia?
  • Describe the trans-Appalachian river system and the role it played in migration and American development
  • Affirm or Refute: “This portion of the story opens on a world of a vast open and varied landscape; it closes on the increasing presence on the land of numbers of small settlements that represented the harbingers of American presence.”
  • Describe the process of expanding federal powers in the territories
  • What influenced the Federal government when deciding to be either a “mediator” or an “advocate” in state / territory – tribal relationships?
  • Describe the provisions, impact and unintended consequences of the Northwest Ordinance, The Southwest Ordinance and the Land Ordinance of 1784 and 1785

The Indiana Terrtory

  • In what ways did international affairs impact trans-Appalachian development?
  • Who was General Anthony Wayne? Describe the Northwest Indian War and the significance of the Battle of Fallen Timbers
  • Who was John Jay? Describe the Jay Treaty and the role he played in the settlement of the trans-Appalachian frontier
  • Who was Thomas Pinkney? Describe the Pinckney’s Treaty / Treaty of San Lorenzo and the role Pinkney played in the settlement of the trans-Appalachian frontier
  • Explain and Expand: “This confrontation over land began with words and by the end of the decade had moved to violence.”
  • Compare and Contrast: The Native American tribes of the Northwest and Southwest territories
  • Who was William Henry Harrison?
  • Describe the evolution of the area of the Indiana Territory from 1795-1815
  • Describe the Haitian Revolution?
  • In what ways did the Haitian Revolution impact the trans-Appalachian frontier?
  • How did the immediate presence of slavery impact the characteristics of southern trans-Appalachia?
  • How did the lack of an immediate presence of slavery impact the characteristics of northern trans-Appalachia?
  • What were the advances in transportation and communication that continued to fuel trans-Appalachian migration?

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

The American Revolutionary Era Reading and Study Group

Chapter 6: The International Sons Of Liberty And The Ministerial Plot, 1768–1770 :: From Resistance to Revolution by Pauline Maier

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “giving or restoring it, not only to our brethren of Scotland and Ireland, but even to France itself, were it in our power, is one of the principal articles of Whiggism.”
  • “in the name and behalf of all the true SONS of LIBERTY in America, Great-Britain, Ireland, Corsica, or wheresoever they may be dispersed throughout the world.”
  • “do nothing rashly … nothing against the known laws of the land, that we appear not a faction endeavouring to overturn the system of government, but … free subjects by birth, endeavouring to recover our lost rights.”

Thought Questions

  • Affirm or Refute: “Yet they were, in a sense, already world revolutionaries.”
  • Describe the role newspapers and pamphlets played in this stage of the American Revolution. How did it evolve from early uses and in what ways did this foreshadow further changes?
  • Who was Heraclius II of Georgia and why did he interest colonial leaders?
  • Who was Paschal Paoli and why did he interest colonial leaders?
  • Who was John Wilkes and why did he interest colonial leaders
  • Explain and Expand: “But within the next four years, from 1768 to 1772, Wilkes, Paoli, the Irish, and the Americans all suffered serious reverses.”
  • What was the North Briton Number 45 and why is it significant in British – American history?
  • React and Respond: “an outlaw … of bad personal character, not worth a farthing”
  • Compare and Contrast: The American Stamp Act and the British Cider Bill of 1763
  • Who was John Dickinson
  • Describe: “”
  • Explain and Expand: “When in January 1769 the colonists learned of the King’s speech at the opening of Parliament on November 8, 1768, with its reference to a “state of Disobedience to all Law and Government” in Massachusetts, and to a “Disposition to throw off their Dependence on Great Britain,” they were further embittered.”
  • In what ways was 1769 the year colonial leaders lost their faith in Great Britain?
  • What developments in Ireland interested and impacted the American colonies?
  • What development in Corsica interested the American colonies and impacted the Early Republic?
  • Explain and Expand: “The impact of these and related events was of the greatest significance.”
  • React and Respond: “This background of a growing official reliance on troops, with the sense of impending danger it evoked, explains the English opposition’s readiness to champion the cause of the black Caribs of St. Vincent’s Island in the West Indies.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The Boston Sons of Liberty rejected several drafts of a letter to Wilkes because rapidly developing local events made them obsolete”
  • What was the significance of the December 1769 pamphlet: “To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York”?
  • Describe the events that led to the Boston Massacre and the event itself
  • Explain and Expand: “The Boston Massacre of March 1770 seemed to complete the parallel development of English and American events.”
  • Who were the North Carolina Regulators

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

Primary Source Document

To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York by Alexander McDougall – Decmeber 1769

[December 1769 – written by Alexander McDougall]

My dear fellow-citizens and countrymen,

In a day when the minions of tyranny and despotism in the mother country and the colonies, are indefatigable in laying every snare that their malevolent and corrupt hearts can suggest, to enslave a free people, when this unfortunate country has been striving under many disadvantages for three years past, to preserve their freedom; which to an Englishman is as dear as his life, – when the merchants of this city and the capital towns on the continent, have nobly and cheerfully sacrificed their private interest to the public good, rather than to promote the designs of the enemies of our happy constitution: It might justly be expected, that in this day of constitutional light, the representatives of this colony would not be so hardy, nor be so lost to all sense of duty to their constituents, (especially after the laudable example of the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and South Carolina before them) as to betray the trust committed to them. This they have done in passing the vote to give the troops a thousand pounds out of any monies that may be in the treasury, and another thousand out of the money that may be issued, to be put out on loan, which the colony will be obliged to make good, whether the bill for that purpose does or does not obtain the royal assent; and that they have betrayed the liberties of the people, will appear from the following consideration, to wit: That the ministry are waiting to see whether the colonies, under their distressed circumstances, will divide on any of the grand points which they are united in, and contending for, with the mother country; by which they may carry their designs against the colonies, and keep in administration. For if this should not take place, the acts must be repealed; which will be a reflection on their conduct, and will bring the reproach and clamour of the nation on them, for the loss of trade to the empire, which their malconduct has occasioned. 

Our granting money to the troops, is implicitly acknowledging the authority that enacted the revenue acts, and their being obligatory on us, as these acts were enacted for the express purpose of taking money out of our pockets without our consent; and to provide for the defending and support of government in America; which revenue we say by our grant of money, is not sufficient for the purpose aforesaid; therefore we supply the deficiency. 

This was the point of view in which these acts were considered, by the Massachusetts and South Carolina Assemblies, and to prevent that dangerous construction, refuted it. On this important point we have differed with these spirited colonies, and do implicitly approve of all the tyrannical con- duct of the ministry to the Bostonians, and by implication censure their laudable and patriotic denial. For if they did right (which every sensible American thinks they did) in refusing to pay the billeting money, surely we have done wrong, very wrong, in giving it. But our Assembly says, that they do their duty in granting money to the troops: Consequently the Massachusetts Assembly did not do theirs, in not obeying the ministerial mandate. If this is not a division in this grand point, I know not what is: And I doubt not but the ministry will let us know it is to our cost; for it will furnish them with arguments and fresh courage. Is this a grateful retaliation to that brave and sensible people, for the spirited and early notice they took of the suspending act? No, it is base ingratitude, and betraying the common cause of liberty. 

To what other influence than the deserting the American cause, can the ministry attribute so pusillanimous a conduct, as this is of the Assembly; so repugnant and subversive of all the means we have used, and opposition that has been made by this and the other colonies, to the tyrannical conduct of the British Parliament! to no other. Can there be a more ridiculous farce to impose on the people than for the Assembly to vote their thanks to be given to the merchants for entering into an agreement not to import goods from Britain, until the revenue acts should be repealed, while they at the same time counteract it by countenancing British acts, and complying with ministerial requisitions, incompatible with our freedom? Surely they cannot.

And what makes the Assembly’s granting this money the more grievous, is, that it goes to the support of troops kept here not to protect but to enslave us: Has not the truth of this remark been lately exemplified in the audacious, domineering and inhuman Major Pullaine, who ordered a guard to protect a sordid miscreant, that transgressed the laudable non-importation agreement of the merchants, in order to break that, which is the only means left them, under God to baffle the designs of their enemies to enslave this continent? This consideration alone ought to be sufficient to induce a free people, not to grant the troops any supply whatsoever, if we had no dispute with the mother country, that made it necessary not to concede anything that might destroy our freedom; reasons of economy and good policy suggest that we ought not to grant the troops money.

Whoever is the least acquainted with the English history, must know, that grants frequently made to the crown, is not to be refused, but with some degree of danger of disturbing the repose of the Kingdom or Colony. This evinces the expediency of our stopping these grants now, while we are embroiled with the mother country, that so we may not, after the grand controversy is settled, have a new bone of contention about the billeting money; which must be the case if we do not put an end to it at this time: for the colony, in its impoverished state, cannot support a charge which amounts to near as much per annum, as all the other expenses of the government besides.
Hence it follows that the assembly have not been attentive to the liberties of the continent, nor to the property of the good people of this colony in particular, we must therefore attribute this sacrifice of the public interest, to some corrupt source. This is very manifest in the guilt and confusion that covered the faces of the perfidious abettors of this measure, when the house was in debate on the subject. Mr. Colden knows from the nature of things, that he cannot have the least prospect to be in administration again; and therefore, that he may make hay while the sun shines, and get a full salary from the Assembly, flatters the ignorant members of it, with the consideration of the success of a bill to emit a paper currency; when he and his artful coadjutors must know, that it is only a snare to impose on the simple; for it will not obtain the royal assent. But while he is solicitous to obtain his salary, he must attend to his posterity, and as some of his children hold offices under the government, if he did not procure an obedience to his requisition, or do his duty in case the Assembly refused the billeting money, by dissolving them, his children might be in danger of losing their offices. If he dissolved the assembly they would not give him his salary. 
The De Lancy family knowing the ascendancy they have in the present house of Assembly, and how useful that influence will be to their ambitious designs, to manage a new Governour, have left no stone unturned to prevent a dissolution.

The Assembly, conscious to themselves, of having trampled on the liberties of the people, and fearing their just resentments on such an event, are equally careful to preserve their seats, expecting that if they can do it at this critical juncture, as it is imagined the grand controversy will be settled this winter, they will serve for seven years; in which time they hope the people will forget the present injuries done to them. To secure these several objects, the De Lancy family, like true politicians, although they were to all appearance at mortal odds with Mr. Colden, and represented him in all companies as an enemy to his country, yet a coalition is now formed in order to secure to them the sovereign lordship of this colony. The effect of which has given birth to the abominable vote, by which the liberties of the people are betrayed. In short, they have brought matters to such a pass, that all the checks resulting from the form of our happy constitution are destroyed. The Assembly might as well invite the council to save the trouble of formalities, to take their seats in the house of Assembly, and place the Lieut. Governor in the Speaker’s chair, and then there would be no waste of time in going from house to house, and his honour would have the pleasure to see how zealous his former enemies are in promoting his interest to serve themselves.

Is this a state to be rested in, when our all is at a stake? No, my countrymen, rouse! Imitate the noble example of the friends of liberty in England; who rather than be enslaved, contend for their right with k-g, lords and commons. And will you suffer your liberties to be tom from you, by your representatives? Tell it not in Boston; publish it not in the streets of Charles-Town! You have means yet left to preserve a unanimity with the brave Bostonians and Carolinians; and to prevent the accomplishment of the designs of tyrants. The house was so nearly divided, on the subject of granting the money in the way the vote passed, that one would have prevented it; you have, therefore, a respectable minority. What I would advise to be done is, to assemble in the fields on Monday next, where your sense ought to be taken on this important point; notwithstanding the impudence of Mr. Jauncey, in his declaring in the house that he had consulted his constituents, and that they were for giving money. After this is done, go in a body to your members, and insist on their joining with the minority, to oppose the bill; if they dare refuse your just requisition, appoint a committee to draw up a state of the whole matter, and send it to the speakers of the several houses of assembly on the continent, and to the friends of our cause in England, and publish it in the news-papers, that the whole world may know your sentiments on this matter, in the only way your circumstance will admit. And I am confident it will spirit the friends of our cause and chagrin our enemies. Let the notification to call the people be so expressed, that whoever absents himself, will be considered as agreeing to what may be done by such as shall meet; – and that you may succeed, is the unfeigned desire of

A SON OF LIBERTY

Read more

Primary Source Document

The Magna Carta (The Great Charter) – June 15, 1215

Primary SourcePreamble: John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishop, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciaries, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his bailiffs and liege subjects, greetings. Know that, having regard to God and for the salvation of our soul, and those of all our ancestors and heirs, and unto the honor of God and the advancement of his holy Church and for the rectifying of our realm, we have granted as underwritten by advice of our venerable fathers, Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry, archbishop of Dublin, William of London, Peter of Winchester, Jocelyn of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh of Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of Coventry, Benedict of Rochester, bishops; of Master Pandulf, subdeacon and member of the household of our lord the Pope, of brother Aymeric (master of the Knights of the Temple in England), and of the illustrious men William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, William, earl of Salisbury, William, earl of Warenne, William, earl of Arundel, Alan of Galloway (constable of Scotland), Waren Fitz Gerold, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert De Burgh (seneschal of Poitou), Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip d’Aubigny, Robert of Roppesley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and others, our liegemen.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer : Letter 12 – Distresses of a Frontier Man

Primary SourceI wish for a change of place; the hour is come at last, that I must fly from my house and abandon my farm! But what course shall I steer, inclosed as I am? The climate best adapted to my present situation and humour would be the polar regions, where six months day and six months night divide the dull year: nay, a simple Aurora Borealis would suffice me, and greatly refresh my eyes, fatigued now by so many disagreeable objects. The severity of those climates, that great gloom, where melancholy dwells, would be perfectly analogous to the turn of my mind. Oh, could I remove my plantation to the shores of the Oby, willingly would I dwell in the hut of a Samoyede; with cheerfulness would I go and bury myself in the cavern of a Laplander. Could I but carry my family along with me, I would winter at Pello, or Tobolsky, in order to enjoy the peace and innocence of that country. But let me arrive under the pole, or reach the antipodes, I never can leave behind me the remembrance of the dreadful scenes to which I have been a witness; therefore never can I be happy! Happy, why would I mention that sweet, that enchanting word? Once happiness was our portion; now it is gone from us, and I am afraid not to be enjoyed again by the present generation! Whichever way I look, nothing but the most frightful precipices present themselves to my view, in which hundreds of my friends and acquaintances have already perished: of all animals that live on the surface of this planet, what is man when no longer connected with society; or when he finds himself surrounded by a convulsed and a half dissolved one? He cannot live in solitude, he must belong to some community bound by some ties, however imperfect.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer : Letter 11 – From Mr. IW–N AL–Z, A Russian Gentleman; Describing the Visit He Paid at My Request To Mr. John Bertram, The Celebrated Pennsylvanian Botanist

Primary SourceExamine this flourishing province, in whatever light you will, the eyes as well as the mind of an European traveller are equally delighted; because a diffusive happiness appears in every part: happiness which is established on the broadest basis. The wisdom of Lycurgus and Solon never conferred on man one half of the blessings and uninterrupted prosperity which the Pennsylvanians now possess: the name of Penn, that simple but illustrious citizen, does more honour to the English nation than those of many of their kings.

In order to convince you that I have not bestowed undeserved praises in my former letters on this celebrated government; and that either nature or the climate seems to be more favourable here to the arts and sciences, than to any other American province; let us together, agreeable to your desire, pay a visit to Mr. John Bertram, the first botanist, in this new hemisphere: become such by a native impulse of disposition. It is to this simple man that America is indebted for several useful discoveries, and the knowledge of many new plants. I had been greatly prepossessed in his favour by the extensive correspondence which I knew he held with the most eminent Scotch and French botanists; I knew also that he had been honoured with that of Queen Ulrica of Sweden.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer : Letter 10 – On Snakes; And on the Humming Bird

Primary SourceWhy would you prescribe this task; you know that what we take up ourselves seems always lighter than what is imposed on us by others. You insist on my saying something about our snakes; and in relating what I know concerning them, were it not for two singularities, the one of which I saw, and the other I received from an eye-witness, I should have but very little to observe. The southern provinces are the countries where nature has formed the greatest variety of alligators, snakes, serpents; and scorpions, from the smallest size, up to the pine barren, the largest species known here. We have but two, whose stings are mortal, which deserve to be mentioned; as for the black one, it is remarkable for nothing but its industry, agility, beauty, and the art of enticing birds by the power of its eyes. I admire it much, and never kill it, though its formidable length and appearance often get the better of the philosophy of some people, particularly of Europeans. The most dangerous one is the pilot, or copperhead; for the poison of which no remedy has yet been discovered. It bears the first name because it always precedes the rattlesnake; that is, quits its state of torpidity in the spring a week before the other. It bears the second name on account of its head being adorned with many copper-coloured spots. It lurks in rocks near the water, and is extremely active and dangerous. Let man beware of it! I have heard only of one person who was stung by a copperhead in this country. The poor wretch instantly swelled in a most dreadful manner; a multitude of spots of different hues alternately appeared and vanished, on different parts of his body; his eyes were filled with madness and rage, he cast them on all present with the most vindictive looks: he thrust out his tongue as the snakes do; he hissed through his teeth with inconceivable strength, and became an object of terror to all by-standers.

Read more

Primary Source Documents

Letters From an American Farmer : Letter 9 – Description of Charles-Town; Thoughts on Slavery; On Physical Evil; A Melancholy Scene

Primary SourceCharles-town is, in the north, what Lima is in the south; both are Capitals of the richest provinces of their respective hemispheres: you may therefore conjecture, that both cities must exhibit the appearances necessarily resulting from riches. Peru abounding in gold, Lima is filled with inhabitants who enjoy all those gradations of pleasure, refinement, and luxury, which proceed from wealth. Carolina produces commodities, more valuable perhaps than gold, because they are gained by greater industry; it exhibits also on our northern stage, a display of riches and luxury, inferior indeed to the former, but far superior to what are to be seen in our northern towns. Its situation is admirable, being built at the confluence of two large rivers, which receive in their course a great number of inferior streams; all navigable in the spring, for flat boats. Here the produce of this extensive territory concentres; here therefore is the seat of the most valuable exportation; their wharfs, their docks, their magazines, are extremely convenient to facilitate this great commercial business. The inhabitants are the gayest in America; it is called the centre of our beau monde, and is always filled with the richest planters of the province, who resort hither in quest of health and pleasure. Here are always to be seen a great number of valetudinarians from the West Indies, seeking for the renovation of health, exhausted by the debilitating nature of their sun, air, and modes of living.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 8 – Peculiar Customs at Nantucket

Primary SourceThe manners of the Friends are entirely founded on that simplicity which is their boast, and their most distinguished characteristic; and those manners have acquired the authority of laws. Here they are strongly attached to plainness of dress, as well as to that of language; insomuch that though some part of it may be ungrammatical, yet should any person who was born and brought up here, attempt to speak more correctly, he would be looked upon as a fop or an innovator. On the other hand, should a stranger come here and adopt their idiom in all its purity (as they deem it) this accomplishment would immediately procure him the most cordial reception; and they would cherish him like an ancient member of their society. So many impositions have they suffered on this account, that they begin now indeed to grow more cautious. They are so tenacious of their ancient habits of industry and frugality, that if any of them were to be seen with a long coat made of English cloth, on any other than the first-day (Sunday), he would be greatly ridiculed and censured; he would be looked upon as a careless spendthrift, whom it would be unsafe to trust, and in vain to relieve. A few years ago two single- horse chairs were imported from Boston, to the great offence of these prudent citizens; nothing appeared to them more culpable than the use of such gaudy painted vehicles, in contempt of the more useful and more simple single-horse carts of their fathers. This piece of extravagant and unknown luxury almost caused a schism, and set every tongue a-going; some predicted the approaching ruin of those families that had imported them; others feared the dangers of example; never since the foundation of the town had there happened anything which so much alarmed this primitive community. One of the possessors of these profane chairs, filled with repentance, wisely sent it back to the continent; the other, more obstinate and perverse, in defiance to all remonstrances, persisted in the use of his chair until by degrees they became more reconciled to it; though I observed that the wealthiest and the most respectable people still go to meeting or to their farms in a single-horse cart with a decent awning fixed over it: indeed, if you consider their sandy soil, and the badness of their roads, these appear to be the best contrived vehicles for this island.

Read more

Primary Source Documents

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 7 – Manners and Customs at Nantucket

Primary SourcesAs I observed before, every man takes a wife as soon as he chooses, and that is generally very early; no portion is required, none is expected; no marriage articles are drawn up among us, by skilful lawyers, to puzzle and lead posterity to the bar, or to satisfy the pride of the parties. We give nothing with our daughters, their education, their health, and the customary out-set, are all that the fathers of numerous families can afford: as the wife’s fortune consists principally in her future economy, modesty, and skilful management; so the husband’s is founded on his abilities to labour, on his health, and the knowledge of some trade or business. Their mutual endeavours, after a few years of constant application, seldom fail of success, and of bringing them the means to rear and support the new race which accompanies the nuptial bed. Those children born by the sea-side, hear the roaring of its waves as soon as they are able to listen; it is the first noise with which they become acquainted, and by early plunging in it they acquire that boldness, that presence of mind, and dexterity, which makes them ever after such expert seamen. They often hear their fathers recount the adventures of their youth, their combats with the whales; and these recitals imprint on their opening minds an early curiosity and taste for the same life. They often cross the sea to go to the main, and learn even in those short voyages how to qualify themselves for longer and more dangerous ones; they are therefore deservedly conspicuous for their maritime knowledge and experience, all over the continent. A man born here is distinguishable by his gait from among an hundred other men, so remarkable are they for a pliability of sinews, and a peculiar agility, which attends them even to old age. I have heard some persons attribute this to the effects of the whale oil, with which they are so copiously anointed in the various operations it must undergo ere it is fit either for the European market or the candle manufactory.

Read more

Primary Source Documents

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 6 – Description of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard; and of the Whale Fishery

Primary SourceThis island is twenty miles in length, and from seven to eight miles in breadth. It lies nine miles from the continent, and with the Elizabeth Islands forms one of the counties of Massachusetts Bay, known by the name of Duke’s County. Those latter, which are six in number, are about nine miles distant from the Vineyard, and are all famous for excellent dairies. A good ferry is established between the Edgar Town, and Falmouth on the main, the distance being nine miles. Martha’s Vineyard is divided into three townships, viz. Edgar, Chilmark, and Tisbury; the number of inhabitants is computed at about 4000, 300 of which are Indians. Edgar is the best seaport, and the shire town, and as its soil is light and sandy, many of its inhabitants follow the example of the people of Nantucket. The town of Chilmark has no good harbour, but the land is excellent and no way inferior to any on the continent: it contains excellent pastures, convenient brooks for mills, stone for fencing, etc. The town of Tisbury is remarkable for the excellence of its timber, and has a harbour where the water is deep enough for ships of the line. The stock of the island is 20,000 sheep, 2000 neat cattle, beside horses and goats; they have also some deer, and abundance of sea- fowls. This has been from the beginning, and is to this day, the principal seminary of the Indians; they live on that part of the island which is called Chapoquidick, and were very early christianised by the respectable family of the Mahews, the first proprietors of it.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 5 – Customary Education and Employment of the Inhabitants of Nantucket

Primary SourcesThe easiest way of becoming acquainted with the modes of thinking, the rules of conduct, and the prevailing manners of any people, is to examine what sort of education they give their children; how they treat them at home, and what they are taught in their places of public worship. At home their tender minds must be early struck with the gravity, the serious though cheerful deportment of their parents; they are inured to a principle of subordination, arising neither from sudden passions nor inconsiderate pleasure; they are gently held by an uniform silk cord, which unites softness and strength. A perfect equanimity prevails in most of their families, and bad example hardly ever sows in their hearts the seeds of future and similar faults. They are corrected with tenderness, nursed with the most affectionate care, clad with that decent plainness, from which they observe their parents never to depart: in short, by the force of example, which is superior even to the strongest instinct of nature, more than by precepts, they learn to follow the steps of their parents, to despise ostentatiousness as being sinful. They acquire a taste for neatness for which their fathers are so conspicuous; they learn to be prudent and saving; the very tone of voice with which they are always addressed, establishes in them that softness of diction, which ever after becomes habitual. Frugal, sober, orderly parents, attached to their business, constantly following some useful occupation, never guilty of riot, dissipation, or other irregularities, cannot fail of training up children to the same uniformity of life and manners. If they are left with fortunes, they are taught how to save them, and how to enjoy them with moderation and decency; if they have none, they know how to venture, how to work and toil as their fathers have done before them.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 4 – Description of the Island of Nantucket, with the Manners, Customs, Policy, and Trade of the Inhabitants

Primary SourceThe greatest compliment that can be paid to the best of kings, to the wisest ministers, or the most patriotic rulers, is to think, that the reformation of political abuses, and the happiness of their people are the primary objects of their attention. But alas! how disagreeable must the work of reformation be; how dreaded the operation; for we hear of no amendment: on the contrary, the great number of European emigrants, yearly coming over here, informs us, that the severity of taxes, the injustice of laws, the tyranny of the rich, and the oppressive avarice of the church; are as intolerable as ever. Will these calamities have no end? Are not the great rulers of the earth afraid of losing, by degrees, their most useful subjects? This country, providentially intended for the general asylum of the world, will flourish by the oppression of their people; they will every day become better acquainted with the happiness we enjoy, and seek for the means of transporting themselves here, in spite of all obstacles and laws. To what purpose then have so many useful books and divine maxims been transmitted to us from preceding ages?–Are they all vain, all useless?

Read more

Primary Source Documents

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 3 – What Is An American

Primary SourceI wish I could be acquainted with the feelings and thoughts which must agitate the heart and present themselves to the mind of an enlightened Englishman, when he first lands on this continent. He must greatly rejoice that he lived at a time to see this fair country discovered and settled; he must necessarily feel a share of national pride, when he views the chain of settlements which embellishes these extended shores. When he says to himself, this is the work of my countrymen, who, when convulsed by factions, afflicted by a variety of miseries and wants, restless and impatient, took refuge here. They brought along with them their national genius, to which they principally owe what liberty they enjoy, and what substance they possess. Here he sees the industry of his native country displayed in a new manner, and traces in their works the embryos of all the arts, sciences, and ingenuity which nourish in Europe. Here he beholds fair cities, substantial villages, extensive fields, an immense country filled with decent houses, good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges, where an hundred years ago all was wild, woody, and uncultivated! What a train of pleasing ideas this fair spectacle must suggest; it is a prospect which must inspire a good citizen with the most heartfelt pleasure. The difficulty consists in the manner of viewing so extensive a scene. He is arrived on a new continent; a modern society offers itself to his contemplation, different from what he had hitherto seen. It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess everything, and of a herd of people who have nothing. Here are no aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a few a very visible one; no great manufacturers employing thousands, no great refinements of luxury. The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe. Some few towns excepted, we are all tillers of the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 2 – On The Situation, Feelings, and Pleasures, of an American Farmer

Primary SourcesAs you are the first enlightened European I have ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with, you will not be surprised that I should, according to your earnest desire and my promise, appear anxious of preserving your friendship and correspondence. By your accounts, I observe a material difference subsists between your husbandry, modes, and customs, and ours; everything is local; could we enjoy the advantages of the English farmer, we should be much happier, indeed, but this wish, like many others, implies a contradiction; and could the English farmer have some of those privileges we possess, they would be the first of their class in the world. Good and evil I see is to be found in all societies, and it is in vain to seek for any spot where those ingredients are not mixed. I therefore rest satisfied, and thank God that my lot is to be an American farmer, instead of a Russian boor, or an Hungarian peasant. I thank you kindly for the idea, however dreadful, which you have given me of their lot and condition; your observations have confirmed me in the justness of my ideas, and I am happier now than I thought myself before. It is strange that misery, when viewed in others, should become to us a sort of real good, though I am far from rejoicing to hear that there are in the world men so thoroughly wretched; they are no doubt as harmless, industrious, and willing to work as we are. Hard is their fate to be thus condemned to a slavery worse than that of our negroes. Yet when young I entertained some thoughts of selling my farm. I thought it afforded but a dull repetition of the same labours and pleasures. I thought the former tedious and heavy, the latter few and insipid; but when I came to consider myself as divested of my farm, I then found the world so wide, and every place so full, that I began to fear lest there would be no room for me. My farm, my house, my barn, presented to my imagination objects from which I adduced quite new ideas; they were more forcible than before. Why should not I find myself happy, said I, where my father was before? He left me no good books it is true, he gave me no other education than the art of reading and writing; but he left me a good farm, and his experience; he left me free from debts, and no kind of difficulties to struggle with.–I married, and this perfectly reconciled me to my situation; my wife rendered my house all at once cheerful and pleasing; it no longer appeared gloomy and solitary as before; when I went to work in my fields I worked with more alacrity and sprightliness; I felt that I did not work for myself alone, and this encouraged me much. My wife would often come with her knitting in her hand, and sit under the shady trees, praising the straightness of my furrows, and the docility of my horses; this swelled my heart and made everything light and pleasant, and I regretted that I had not married before.

Read more

Primary Source Document

Letters From an American Farmer: Letter 1 – Introduction

Primary SourceWho would have thought that because I received you with hospitality and kindness, you should imagine me capable of writing with propriety and perspicuity? Your gratitude misleads your judgment. The knowledge which I acquired from your conversation has amply repaid me for your five weeks’ entertainment. I gave you nothing more than what common hospitality dictated; but could any other guest have instructed me as you did? You conducted me, on the map, from one European country to another; told me many extraordinary things of our famed mother-country, of which I knew very little; of its internal navigation, agriculture, arts, manufactures, and trade: you guided me through an extensive maze, and I abundantly profited by the journey; the contrast therefore proves the debt of gratitude to be on my side. The treatment you received at my house proceeded from the warmth of my heart, and from the corresponding sensibility of my wife; what you now desire must flow from a very limited power of mind: the task requires recollection, and a variety of talents which I do not possess. It is true I can describe our American modes of farming, our manners, and peculiar customs, with some degree of propriety, because I have ever attentively studied them; but my knowledge extends no farther. And is this local and unadorned information sufficient to answer all your expectations, and to satisfy your curiosity? I am surprised that in the course of your American travels you should not have found out persons more enlightened and better educated than I am; your predilection excites my wonder much more than my vanity; my share of the latter being confined merely to the neatness of my rural operations.

Read more

December 23, 1783 – Continental Congress’ Reply to General George Washington’s Resignation

Sir,

The United states in Congress assembled receive with emotions too affecting for utterance this solemn resignation of the authorities, under which you have led their troops with success through a perilous and a doubtful war.

Called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights you accepted the sacred charge before it had found alliances and whilst it was without funds or a government to support you.

You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power through all disasters and changes. You have by the love and confidence of your fellow citizens enabled them to display their martial genius and transmit their fame to posterity. You have persevered till these United States aided by a magnanimous king & nation have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in freedom, safety and independence, on which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations.

Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world, having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict and to those who feel oppression you retire from the great theatre of action with the blessings of your fellow citizens: But the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command: it will continue to animate remotest ages.

We feel with you our obligations to the army in general and will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential Officers who have attended your person to this affecting moment.

We join you in commanding the interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching Him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation; And for you we address to Him our earnest prayers that a life so beloved may be fostered with all his care—that your days may be happy as they have been illustrious and that He will finally give you that reward, which this World cannot give.

December 23, 1783 – General George Washington’s Letter Resigning His Commission in the Continental Army – Primary Source

The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress & of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.

Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the oppertunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence—A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The successful termination of the War has verified the more sanguine expectations—and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my Countrymen, encreases with every review of the momentous Contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the Army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar Services and distinguished merits of the Gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the War. It was impossible the choice of confidential Officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me Sir, to recommend in particular those, who have continued in Service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice & patronage of Congress.

I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commanding the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action—and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.

Week 5: From Resistance to Revolution by Pauline Maier Chapter 5: Resistance In Transition, 1767–1770 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “no similar Examples from former Times”
  • “Once again, as during the Stamp Act period, those who ignored or violated the patriotic agreements were coerced by social and economic boycotts which became harsher as the movement itself gained strength and intensity.” 
  • “Rhetoric also revealed this de facto assumption of authority.” 
  • “when the subject is of such importance as the liberty and happiness of a country, every inferior consideration, as well as the inconvenience of a few individuals, must give place to it; nor is this any hardship upon them as themselves and their posterity are to partake of the benefits resulting from it. Objections of the same kind might be made to the most useful civil institutions.” 
  • “The royal officials’ insistence on the authority of Parliament and the Americans’ criminality acquired particular shrillness and rigidity as they saw their own authority disintegrate.” 
  • “the whole ferment has been raised and constantly kept up by a few principal men in every colony, and that it might be expected to subside in a short time either of itself, or by the assistance of a coercive power.”
  • “it is the Duty of His Majestys Governors so to conduct themselves as not to create groundless Jealousies or suggest Suspicion that they are capable of … wishing to restrain the just and decent Exercise of that Liberty which belongs to the People. … An Administration founded on large Principles of Public Good will give Dignity to Power [,] insure the Reverence and Affections of the Governed … and make it unnecessary to have recourse to lesser and more narrow Means of Government.”

Thought Questions

  • What issues remained unresolved between Britain and the colonies after the repeal of the Stamp Act
  • Compare and Contrast the colonial response to the Townshend Act with the reaction to the Stamp Act
  • Compare and Contrast the British reaction to the colonial response to the Townshend Act with the response to the Stamp Act
  • Describe how the period from 1767-1770 was a period of transition in Colonial American attitudes and beliefs?
  • What were the Townshend Revenue Act?
  • What was the New York Restraining Act?
  • What was the Indemnity Act? 
  • What was the Commissioners of Customs Act?
  • What was the The Vice Admiralty Court Act?
  • How did Britain attempt to circumvent colonial authorities with the Townshend Acts? 
  • Who was John Dickinson and what was the significance of the “Letters from a Farmer” series he wrote?
  • What were the central arguments in “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania”? 
  • Describe the evolution of the resistance to the Townshend Acts
  • Compare and Contrast Non-Importation Agreements and Non-Consumption Agreements
  • In what ways was force or the threat of violence a part of colonial resistance to the Townshend Acts
  • How did the colonials attempt to restrain violence during resistance? Why did the colonials seek to restrain violence? 
  • Explain and Expand: “Nonviolence was rarely if ever a passive achievement.” 
  • Describe the role Boston played in resistance to the Townshend Acts
  • Describe the role New York played in resistance to the Townshend Acts
  • What was the “Liberty Riot” and what was the impact of the riot?
  • Explain and Expand: “With the failure of peaceful mass pressure, more virulent forms of mob pressure were again revived.” 
  • Describe the motivations and goals of the colonial “gentry” merchant class in resistance to the Townshend Acts
  • Describe the motivations and goals of the urban colonial working class in resistance to the Townshend Acts
  • Compare and Contrast the motivations and goals of the colonial merchant class and the colonial urban working class
  • What problems did royal officials encounter when trying to deal with colonial resistance to the Townshend Acts?
  • How did royal officials misunderstand the nature and reasons for colonial resistance?
  • In what ways did the British response to colonial resistance move the situation towards colonial revolution? 
  • In what ways did the period from 1767-1770 set the stage for colonial resistance to move from a civilian to a military problem? 
  • How did the Townshend Acts turn a situation that mainly focused on Boston into a colonial wide situation? 
  • React and Respond: “The colonists’ concern for acting within the law indicated a continued respect for British institutions.” 
  • Expand and Explain: “The basic guidelines for American opposition to Britain were defined already during the Stamp Act crisis; but the nature of the Anglo-American conflict changed radically within the next decade.” 
  • Describe the scandal and uproar raised by the release of letters from the Massachusetts governor?
  • How did the release of Governor Bernard’s private letters alter the situation in the colonies?

Primary Sources

Articles and Reference

Week 4: From Resistance to Revolution by Pauline Maier Chapter 4: The Intercolonial Sons Of Liberty And Organized Resistance, 1765–1766

 

Note: After this chapter you should have a good understanding of the nature and philosophy of Colonial resistance. Begin to think about the process by which “Resistance” transitions into “Revolution”. You should also have an idea of how inter-colonial relationships formed and how compromise and cooperations developed among them a critical understanding when considering national formation and the expectations of the founders about how American leaders would deal with conflict. 

Thought / Response Quotes

  • “The Sons of Liberty of this place have wrote to Philadelphia,” he informed his father, “that if they do not make Hugh[e]s resign as fully as the other Distributors … [t]hey will disown them and hold no longer Correspondence with them.”
  • “our worthy ancestors … having felt the effects of tyranny … fled … to seek shelter beneath the peaceful wing of liberty,” an article in the Boston Evening Post once proclaimed; hence the colonists were “the sons of noble freedom.”
  • “to march with the utmost dispatch, at their own proper costs and expense, on the first proper notice (which must be signified to them by at least six of the sons of liberty) with their whole force if required … to the relief of those that shall, are, or may be in danger from the stamp act.”
  • “Such a goal required that the Sons continue earlier efforts to restrain the possible violence of extra-legal gatherings. Military discipline could contribute to this end” 
  • “the greatest inducements to believe, that the Colonies will never more be threaten’d with such a Fetter, as an Act so mischievously calculated to bereave its Inhabitants of their darling Liberty.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the development of inter-colonial Stamp Act resistance
  • Describe the evolution of the Stamp Act protests from random inceptions to organized resistance. 
  • What are some examples of rudimentary inter-colonial cooperation?
  • In what ways did the Sons of Liberty in 1765 form an ideal type for colonial resistance?
  • What is the history behind the label “Sons of Liberty”? 
  • How did the New York Sons of Liberty play a special part in inter-colonial cooperation?
  • In what ways were the personal and familial relationships between the prominent Sons of Liberty significant?
  • What are some examples of personal and familial relationships between the prominent Sons of Liberty impacting the course of resistance? 
  • Why were personal relationships between the Sons of Liberty essential to the development of inter-colonial resistance? 
  • Compare and Contrast: Alliances between the “noble families” in Britain and Alliances between Colonial merchants 
  • Describe the purpose and effectiveness of Committees of Correspondence?
  • Name several significant leaders of the Sons of Liberty
  • How did the end of the Stamp Act crisis impact the Sons of Liberty?
  • How did the formation of the Sons of Liberty impact other colonial social institutions?
  • Compare and Contrast the reasoning behind resistance to the Stamp Act in different colonies and regions?
  • In what ways did the Sons of Liberty attempt to mobilize the “mass body politic” in the colonies and what was their intentions?
  • How did the Sons of Liberty use Colonial newspapers to mobilize resistance?
  • What was the Sons of Liberty New London agreement and how was it significant in shaping the wider actions of the Son of Liberty in other colonies?
  • What were some examples of the Sons of Liberty cooperating and coordinating with established colonial authorities? 
  • In what ways did the Sons of Liberty act as a “shadow government” when British authorities dissolved Colonial Assemblies?
  • How did the Sons of Liberty seek to balance resistance to British authority with loyalty to the British crown?
  • What was the Boston Gazette and the Constitutional Courant what role did it play in Colonial resistance and coordination?
  • Who were the “Loyal Nine”?
  • In what ways did the repeal of the Stamp Act impact the Sons of Liberty, British authorities and the Colonial public? 

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

Week 3: From Resistance to Revolution by Pauline Maier Chapter 3: The Stamp Act Riots And Ordered Resistance, 1765

 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “deprive us of all our invaluable charter rights and privileges, drain us suddenly of our cash, occasion an entire stagnation of trade, discourage every kind of industry, and involve us in the most abject slavery.”
  • “startle men … accustomed to venerate and obey lawful authority … and to make them doubt the justice of the cause attended with such direful consequences.”
  • “You have no need to have recourse to violent methods any longer,” the colonists were told; “The channel is now open to the ear and heart of the best of KINGS: Rely upon it, he will hear you, and his PARLIAMENT will enable him to redress you.”
  • “On all of these accounts, it was said, the colonists’ resistance to the Stamp Act—that is, the insurrections patterned on the one in Boston on August 14, 1765—were justified.” 
  • “that if the whole People of the [British] Nation had thought their essential unalienable Rights … [were] invaded by an Act of Parliam[en]t, which is really the Opinion which the whole People of America have of the Stamp Act … in such a Case, after taking all legal Steps to obtain redress to no Purpose, the whole People of England would have taken the same Steps and justifyd themselves.”

Thought Questions

  • What were the provisions of the Stamp Act?
  • In what ways did the Stamp Act reaction in the Colonies reflect English traditions of popular uprisings?
  • What was the purpose and reason for the Stamp Act from the British perspective?
  • What was the purpose and reasoning behind the Stamp Act from the Colonial perspective?
  • What role does hindsight play in our understanding of the response to the Stamp Act?
  • Why was Georgia the only colony that briefly accepted the Stamp Act?
  • Describe the evolution of the Stamp Act resistance?
  • How was rioting and mob violence a part of the resistance to the Stamp Act?
  • Who was Andrew Oliver and what role did he play in the Stamp Act?
  • Who was Peter Oliver and what role did he play in the Stamp Act?
  • Who was Thomas Hutchinson and what role did he play in the Stamp Act?
  • Who was Samuel Adams and what role did he play in the Stamp Act?
  • How was the British enactment of the Stamp Act in continuity with their past actions and also a sign of changing relations with the colonies? 
  • How was the Colonial reaction to the Stamp Act in continuity with the past and also a harbinger of something new? 
  • How was the British reaction to the Stamp Act resistance in continuity with the past and also a harbinger of something new?
  • Why was the reaction to the Stamp Act different in the West Indies and Canada?
  • Who were the Sons of Liberty and what were their goals, methods and accomplishments? 
  • Describe the Sons of Liberty from the British and loyalists perspectives
  • What were Liberty Trees and Liberty Poles and what were their expressed and covert purposes?
  • Why was violence counter productive in the Colonial resistance to the Stamp Act? In what ways was violence a necessary or inevitable part of the response? 
  • Compare and Contrast the Colonial response in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Newport and Charleston? 
  • What factors account for the similarities and differences in the reaction to the Stamp Act in different colonial seaports? 
  • What role did Colonial newspapers and pamphlets play in the response to the Stamp Act?
  • Describe the evolution from violence to ostracism in Colonial resistance
  • Explain and Expand: “Traditional criteria for just popular uprisings were repeated not only to justify the colonists’ resistance to the Stamp Act; they served also to specify the limits of just resistance, to articulate guidelines for future action.” 
  • Describe the evolution into non-importation as resistance to the Stamp Act 

Primary Sources

Articles and Reference

Further Reading

 

Week 2: From Resistance to Revolution by Pauline Maier Chapter 2: An Ideology Of Resistance And Restraint

 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “The need to reconcile the impulse toward resistance with the injunction to restraint became, in fact, one of the central intellectual and practical problems of the American revolutionary movement.”
  • ““undoubtedly the most desirable and complete form [of government] that the good fortune of man has hitherto produced or their wit been capable of contriving,” “the Work of Ages which is the Envy and Admiration of the Universe, the Glory of the English Nation.””
  • “Here was the peculiar glory of the English constitution: rulers as well as ruled were subjected to the rule of law; none were given scope for arbitrary action that could endanger the liberty of others.”
  • “Liberty was closely tied to material prosperity in the real world, for only in free states was every man guaranteed “his Right to enjoy the Fruit of his Labour, Art and Industry as far as by it he hurts not the Society.” Only in free states could trade prosper, cities grow, population increase: “Let the People alone and they will take Care of themselves and do it best.”” 
  • “Nor could forceful resistance to authority be justified by casual errors or private immoralities on the part of the governors. Indulgence was always necessary for “such imprudence or mistakes of rulers as subjects must have expected in any fallible mortals.”” 

Thought Questions

  • React and Respond: It is in the American character to resist being governed 
  • How did John Milton influence Colonial America?
  • How did John Locke influence Colonial America?
  • Compare and Contrast the influence of Locke and Milton on Colonial America
  • What was the motivation for and purpose of the Cato’s letters?
  • Describe the characteristics of the “Real Whig” movement
  • Describe the evolution of the Real Whig Colonial movement from Locke and Milton 
  • What was the Real Whig concept of “the public”?
  • What was the Real Whig concept of “resistance”?
  • What was the Real Whig concept of “restraint”?
  • How did the Real Whig movement justify the use of resistance?
  • What circumstances did the Real Whig movement justify the use of force or violence?
  • In what ways did the Colonial Middle Class work with the the Colonial Working Class during times of resistance?
  • Describe how Real Whigs understood public and private grievances

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

Week 1: From Resistance to Revolution by Pauline Maier Chapter 1: Popular Uprisings and Civil Authority 

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “The colonists’ attitude depended in large part upon a tradition of popular uprisings that also shaped the forms of popular force during the revolutionary era.”
  • What are some of the examples of “failure to act” on the part of government that led to popular uprisings in Colonial America?
  • Compare and Contrast the circumstances and reactions to the popular uprisings the author mentions 
  • How did American Localism impact government in Colonial America?
  • How did American Communitarianism impact government in Colonial America?
  • In what ways did community regulation of “violence” impact Colonial uprisings? 
  • Compare and Contrast the motivations for popular uprisings in Colonial America and Britain 
  • Compare and Contrast the community regulation of “violence” in America with class monopoly on “violence” in England and the impact this had on popular uprisings? 

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

Week 26 :: The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff – Chapter 26: Ratification

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “What had happened in the Constitutional Convention? A fairly common opinion in 1787 had it that there had been a withdrawal of the original commitment to the principles of the American Revolution. Those of this persuasion pointed out that the Constitution virtually destroyed the old Confederation of sovereign states and replaced it with what they called “consolidated” government. In this government, power and sovereignty lay at the center—not in the individual states. In the year following the close of the federal Convention there were to be many variations on the meaning of consolidation.”
  • “For the Revolution was a complex set of events taking place over almost thirty years, events which in fact went through a number of phases. To assume that one phase is more “revolutionary,” or more “conservative,” than another inhibits understanding of them all.”
  • “The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength and to act in unison with each other.”

Thought Questions

  • Who were the Federalists and Anti-Federalists and how did they impact the debate over ratification?
  • Describe the course of the Federalist-Anti-Federalist debate over ratification
  • How did the debate over ratification reflect changing attitudes from the 1770s? 
  • How did the debate over ratification reflect the experience of the War for Independence? 
  • What role did a Bill of Rights play in Constitutional ratification? 
  • Describe how the process of ratification proceeded in the states?
  • Why was Delaware the first state to ratify the Constitution and how was this symbolic of a group of states?
  • Describe the debate over ratification in Pennsylvania and how it impacted ratification
  • Describe the debate over ratification in New York and how it impacted ratification 
  • Describe the debate over ratification in Virginia and how it impacted ratification 

Articles

Primary Sources

 

1 2 3