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

 

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.

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

 

Week 25 :: The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff – Chapter 25: The Constitutional Convention

Thought Questions

  • Why is James Madison considered the “Father of the Constitution”?
  • What role did James Wilson play in the constitutional convention?
  • What role did George Washington play in the constitutional convention? 
  • What were the provisions of the Virginia Plan?
  • What were the provisions of the New Jersey Plan? How did they differ from the Virginia plan?
  • How did the issue of popular sovereignty and democracy impact the convention?
  • What issues did the bicameral national legislature address?
  • What issues did the chief executive of the national government raise?
  • What issues did the national judiciary pose to the convention? 
  • How was the “Federal” union proposed by some different from the “Confederation” others wanted to preserve? 
  • Why was the issue of states’ rights not primarily a sectional issue during the convention?
  • How were large population states in conflict with the small population states?
  • How did the issue of slavery effect the convention?
  • In what ways did the issue of western lands effect the convention? 
  • How was Delaware’s position representative of the small states position? 
  • How was the issue of popular ratification of the Constitution resolved? 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “What concerned him, he wrote Henry Knox in an appeal for advice, was “whether my non-attendance in this Convention will not be considered as dereliction to republicanism, nay more, whether other motives may not (however injuriously) be ascribed to me for not exerting myself on this occasion in support of it.””
  • “The Convention met for almost four months. During that time it generated its own forces, chiefly through discussion and argument. In all these deliberations, reason and intellect made their impress, just as did irrationality and passion, chance and accident.”
  • “The others did not agree and signed, apparently sharing a hope that ratification might follow without difficulty. Ratification was given in the next nine months, but not without difficulty and a certain amount of strain. Perhaps the difficulty was inevitable. On the whole it was minor, given what the Americans had already overcome.” 

Primary Sources

Articles

 

Week 24 :: The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff – Chapter 24: The Children of the Twice Born in the 1780s

Notes:

  • You may wish to review Chapter 2 before reading this chapter. 
  • Remember that the Revolutionary Period saw three distinct types of “national” assemblies: 
  • Continental Congresses (improvised assemblies before the Articles of Confederation)
  • The Confederation Congress (the assembly that formed under the Articles of Confederation) -The Federal Congress (which would form under the United States Constitution)
  • Think about the struggle in this chapter in terms of “right” and “power”. Example: The Confederation Congress had the “right” to form an Army. But it did not possess the “power” – it could not pay or supply the army and depended on the states to form the actual Continental units. The “power” remained with the states. The Continental Congresses effectively had neither “right” or “power” – all they could do is talk and return home. The Federal Congress would have both the “right” to do and the “power” to do what it had the “right” to do. 
  • Balancing “right” and “power” is the prime substance of American political history. 

Thought Questions

  • How did American society evolve between 1765 and 1785?
  • How did American political institutions evolve between 1765 and 1785?
  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?
  • How did the Constitutional history of revolutionary Virginia impact the construction of the Federal Government?
  • What were the provisions of the Virginia Declaration of Rights?
  • Who was George Mason? 
  • Describe the evolution from the Articles of Confederation to the Federal Constitution
  • How did the issues of credit, debt and land influence the Constitutional development of the United States? 
  • How did Jefferson understand the issue of slavery and how did his conclusions evolve?
  • How did Jefferson understand the issue of public education and how did his conclusions evolve? 
  • How did the Constitutional development of Pennsylvania compare and contrast with Virginia?
  • Why does the author choose Virginia and Pennsylvania to compare state constitutional development?
  • Some people see this chapter and the previous chapter on the Stamp Act Crisis as encapsulating the author’s main themes. How does the Stamp Act “crisis” and the Virginia Constitutional “crisis” (from Jefferson’s point of view) frame the evolution of the “Glorious Cause” in America?

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Much had changed between 1765 and 1787. Although in 1765 the Americans were not one people, they knew they had much in common. By 1787 they recognized what it was. They were a people who valued liberty and representative government.”
  • “Pendleton did not agree, preferring instead to reserve the upper house for men of “great property” who would sit for life. The disadvantage in giving their selection to the lower house lay in the dependence thereby created. So chosen, they would be “the mere creatures of that body and of course wholly unfit to correct their Errors or Allay casual heats which will at times arise in all large bodies.” Jefferson did not disagree with all of this, but he did not share Pendleton’s confidence in wealthy men—“my observations,” he observed, “do not enable me to say I think integrity the characteristic of wealth.””
  • “Jefferson recommended colonization because he believed that blacks and whites could not live together peacefully. Their complex and terrible history made racial harmony unthinkable: “Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.””

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

 

Week 23 :: The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff, Chapter 23: The Constitutional Movement

Thought Questions

  • Describe the deficiencies the the Constitutional movement looked to remedy
  • What was the significance of the act and method of Washington’s military resignation?
  • In what ways was the Continental Army disgruntled after the end of the conflict?
  • How was territorial sovereignty and land distribution in the west an issue at the end of the war
  • How did national public finances and debt factor into decisions about the future of the Untied States at the end of the war? 
  • What role did John Jay and James Monroe play in the European negotiations? 
  • How did the issues related to the organization of the “Old Northwest” compare and contrast with the issues related to the “Old Southwest”?
  • How did economic recovery after the war progress differently in different sections?
  • What were “Indents” and what role did the play in public finances? 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “to rely on the plighted faith of your Country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress. . . . And let me conjure you, in the name of our common Country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the Military and National character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the Man who wishes, under any specious pretences, to overturn the liberties of our Country, and who wickedly attempts to open the flood Gates of Civil discord, and deluge our rising Empire in blood.”
  • “This anxiety, which was perhaps fairly widespread, focused on Congress. Indeed dissatisfaction with Congress and its works—or lack of works—shaped a movement for constitutional reform in the 1780s.”

Primary Sources

Articles

 

Week 22 :: The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff, Chapter 22: Yorktown and Paris

Thought Questions

  • Describe the events around Yorktown? 
  • Moving into the events around Yorktown what was the mental and physical conditions around / in the American and British military leadership and their rank and file? 
  • Who was Charles Cornwallis? How was he an “unlikely” candidate to suppress rebellion while being a “likely” candidate to win a military engagement?
  • What role did the British Navy play in the events around Yorktown?
  • What role did communications and logistics play in this phase of the war?
  • How was Yorktown the “beginning of the end” for British occupation of the United States?
  • How did the peace negotiations progress after Yorktown?
  • In what ways did the different national interests of the Americans, French and Spanish begin to emerge as issues during the peace negotiations? 
  • What role did John Adams play in the peace negotiations?
  • What were the provisions of the 1783 Treaty of Paris?
  • In what ways was the American Revolution a civil war? In what ways was Yorktown the end of a revolution and the beginning of a civil war?
  • How did the Americans and British fight a different war?
  • In what ways was George Washington an ideal leader for the war the Americans fought? 
  • What holds us together as a people? 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “In the best tradition of the military’s disdain of fear, relief was accomplished with drums beating and colors flying. If the enemy heard the drums or, more likely, noticed the colors and decided to fire at the men who were obviously under them, so be it. An eighteenth-century gentleman should always place his honor above his life.”
  • “The type of war the Americans fought, with its overriding political objective and its defensive strategy, called for a particular sort of commander.” 

Further Reading

  • There are many great biographies of George Washington. Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow is a favorite for many people. My favorite are the Washington biographies by James Thomas Flexner. The single volume is great, the four volume set is a must for biography lovers. 

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

 

Week 21 :: The Glorious Cause, Chapter 21: Outside the Campaigns

Thought Questions

  • How did the War for Independence effect the American civilians who sustained the war effort? 
  • In what ways did the British employ “terror raids” against non-military American targets? 
  • In what ways did the Continental Army and state militias carry out crimes against non-military civilian targets? In what ways was this justified by the participants? 
  • What effect did the War for Independence have on marriages and families? How was this experience similar and different in New England, the Chesapeake and the South? 
  • How did the role of women outside the home and church change during the War for Independence? 
  • In what ways did the Americans and British attempt to mitigate some negative behaviors?
  • What does the experience of Elizabeth Drinker reveal about the experience of American civilians in the War for Independence? 
  • Compare and contrast how the poor, the working population, the “middling sort” and the “gentry” population in America experienced the War for Independence? 
  • How did loyalists fit into the American War for Independence? 
  • In what ways were political positions considered crimes in the war? How did the vary in different regions and how did local war experience effect the pursuit of political crimes?
  • What were some of the paradoxes faced by slaves during the war? 
  • How did the experience of slaves in the War for Independence effect their status as Americans and as slaves?
  • How did language effect the repeated formation of Native American groups? How was this process different and similar for the Northwestern and Southern Native Americans? 

Thought / Response Quotes

  • “That the army sometimes failed in the service of the cause does not mean that the revolutionary generation’s experience was false. No society ever holds perfectly to the courses it sets for itself; and no good and honorable experience can ever be completely free of evil and dishonor.”
  • “Disease, wars, the relentless pressure of whites on their lands, had broken apart tribes and kin groups. These groups, loose collections of villages, had formed themselves over and over again—the survivors of these man-made disasters adapting to new circumstances in an attempt to retain some control of their lives.”

 

Week 20 :: The Glorious Cause, Chapter 20: Inside the Campaigns

Thought Questions

  • What were the different motivations that inspired individuals, American and British, to fight and in some cases die in the American Revolution?
  • How were individual motivations for joining the fight in the American Revolution similar and different in the War of 1812 and the American Civil War?
  • What different circumstances effected the performance of Continentals and militias?
  • How did the experience of serving in the Continental Army under Washington create a feeling of nationhood?
  • How did the geographic differences in the composition of the Continental Army and militias impact sectional characteristics and feelings?
  • Compare the factors that influenced the performance of British soldiers and the Continental Army and British soldiers and the militias?
  • In what ways did the “Civil War” the British soldiers experienced compare and contrast to the “Revolution” the American soldiers experienced?

Notes:

  • A classic American Revolution memoir is A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some of the Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin (free on Librivox)
  • If you are interested in the experience of British soldiers in the American Revolution, consider Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War by Thomas B. Allen and British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution by Don N. Hagist

Chapter Thought and Response Quotes

  • “Why did those men—those who survived and those who died—fight? Why did they hold their ground, endure the strain of battle, with men dying about them and danger to themselves so obvious?”
  • “We need to know why these men fought and why the American regulars performed better than the militia.”
  • “The activity of a commander in chief does not at all resemble the activity we imagine to ourselves when we sit at ease in our studies examining some campaign on the map, with a certain number of troops on this and that side in a certain known locality, and begin our plans from a given moment. A commander in chief is never dealing with the beginning of any event—the position from which we always contemplate it. The commander in chief is always in the midst of a series of shifting events and so he never can at any moment consider the whole import of an event that is occurring.”
  • “The Continentals occupied the psychological and moral ground somewhere between the militia and the British professionals.”

Optional Supplemental Reading

Continue Reading American Heritage History of the American Revolution by Bruce Lancaster

Week 19 :: The Glorious Cause, Chapter 19: The “Fugitive War” 

Thought Questions

  • In what ways did the experiences around the Camden and the South “shocking” for both sides of the conflict? 
  • What was the British war plan after Camden? 
  • What was the American war plan after Camden? 
  • Who were the “Over-the-mountain men” and what role did they play in the revolution? 
  • Contrast the character and leadership of Nathanael Greene (please note the spelling) with other military leaders in history (not just American and British) 
  • How were the particular skills and experience Nathanael Greene possessed critical to the success of the revolution?
  • In what ways did the individual strengths and weaknesses of Washington, Greene and Knox work together to create superior leadership for the revolution? (Unfortunately one of the flaws of this excellent book is its scant coverage of Henry Knox)
  • In what ways did Washington, Greene and Knox recognize and adapt to their individual weaknesses and circumstantial limitations? 
  • In what ways did British military leadership fail to recognize and adapt to their individual weaknesses and circumstantial limitations? 
  • How did issues of transportation and communication effect the revolution in the South? 
  • How did the American leadership build on their strengths?
  • How did the British leadership compound their weaknesses? 
  • In what ways did localisms effect the war in the South? 
  • Who was Daniel Morgan and how did the Battle of Cowpens unfold? 
  • How did The Battle of Guilford Court House unfold? 
  • In what ways was the war in the south the deciding factor in concluding the war? 

Thought / Response Quotes 

  • “In March 1778, much against his will and with the plaintive wail, “Nobody ever heard of a quarter Master in History,” he accepted appointment as quartermaster general. His acceptance bespoke as plainly as anything he was to do in the Revolution a readiness to do what had to be done and a devotion to the glorious cause.”
  • “Courage frequently mastered the deficiencies of leadership in the Revolution, but in this case it had no chance. The Highlanders were either killed or surrendered, and the artillerymen died gallantly trying to hold their howitzers. Beaten, the British soon began to beg for quarter.”
  • “Shifting the war to the South had seemed especially promising to British commanders after Charleston fell in the spring of 1780. In reality they faced enormous problems even after that victory.” 

Primary Sources

Articles and Maps

Optional Supplemental Reading

 

Week 18: The Glorious Cause, Chapter 18: The War in the South

Thought Questions

  • How did the British belief in the “loyal American majority” evolve and effect the war for independence? 
  • What conditions in the southern colonies make the war for independence there different from the northern colonies? 
  • In what ways was the American Revolution a “quiet”, “defensive”, “conservative” process? 
  • What role did the British imagine for the southern colonies? 
  • How did the British invasion of South Carolina unfold?
  • Compare the working relationships between Colonial American officers and the relationships between British officers
  • How was the fighting in South Carolina different from the other colonies and how did this impact the nature of South Carolina society? 

Primary Sources

Articles

Optional Supplemental Reading

 

Week 17: The Glorious Cause, Chapter 17: The Revolution Becomes A European War

Thought Questions

  • In what ways was the American Revolution connected to European affairs? 
  • What pragmatic advantages did France see in American Independence? 
  • Why was Spain concerned with American Independence? 
  • What arguments did Americans make to the French and Spanish courts to gain support? 
  • In what ways was American independence a “double edged sword” for the French?
  • How did John Adams function as a diplomat in Europe during the war for independence? 
  • How did Thomas Jefferson function as a diplomat in Europe during the war for independence? 
  • How did Benjamin Franklin function as a diplomat in Europe during the war for independence? 
  • How did Adams, Jefferson and Franklin represent different “Americas” to the Europeans?
  • What were the significant provisions of the treaties between France and the United States? 
  • How did events in America effect British and American diplomacy in Europe? 
  • How did the British react towards French recognition of American independence? 
  • How did British actions in the Caribbean work with their strengths while their actions worked with their weaknesses in the mainland colonies? 
  • What was the experience of Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78?
  • How did geography effect Valley Forge as winter quarters for the Continentals?
  • How did Washington’s army live off the land during the Valley Forge winter?
  • In what ways was a commissary system attempted by the Continental Army? 
  • Who was Baron von Steuben and how did he assist in the war for independence? 
  • Who was Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette and how did he assist in the war for independence?
  • Why is Lafayette remembered significantly and von Steuben remembered slightly? 
  • What was the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse and how did it effect the balance of power in the colonies? 
  • How were the French involved in the battles around Newport in 1778?
  • How did the outlook of American Independence change from 1777 to 1778? 

Primary Sources

Optional Supplemental Reading

 

Week 16: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 16 War of Maneuver

Thought Questions

  • What does the author mean by “War of Maneuver” and how did it effect the War for Independence? 
  • In what ways was the War for Independence a guerrilla war? In what ways was it a conventional war?
  • What was the initial British plan to subdue the revolution?
  • How was Canada involved in the American Revolution? 

Optional Supplemental Reading

 

Week 16: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 16 War of Maneuver

Thought Questions

  • What does the author mean by “War of Maneuver” and how did it effect the War for Independence? 
  • In what ways was the War for Independence a guerrilla war? In what ways was it a conventional war?
  • What was the initial British plan to subdue the revolution?
  • How was Canada involved in the American Revolution? 

Optional Supplemental Reading

 

Week 15: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 15 War of Posts

Thought Questions

  • Describe the events around Staten Island, Long Island and Manhattan Island in 1776
  • Describe the events around New Jersey in 1776
  • What does the author mean by a “war of posts”?
  • What were the factors that limited American actions in 1776
  • What problems did the British face in ending the American Revolution?

Optional Supplemental Reading

Primary Sources

Articles

 

Week 14: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 14 Independence 

Thought Questions

  • What were the main issues of discussion in the Second Continental Congress?
  • What were the main results of the Second Continental Congress? 
  • Why did different groups of Americans see different answers to the problems the colonies were experiencing with the British Empire?
  • What role did Native American relations play in 1776 and the deliberations of the Second Continental Congress? 
  • What was the “Olive Branch Petition” of 1775 and how did British reaction to it shape the events of the Second Continental Congress? 
  • What were the main points of the “Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms”?
  • Who was Lord George Germain and what was his relationship to the King and Lord North? (Don’t confuse him with George Grenville) 
  • What was the American Prohibitory Act of 1776 and what intended and unintended consequences of its passage?
  • Describe the events around the drafting and passage of the American Declaration of Independence? 
  • Who was Thomas Paine and what role did “Common Sense” play in American Independence?
  • What in John Adam’s life prepared him for the role he would play in the Second Continental Congress?
  • What in Thomas Jefferson’s life prepared him for the role he would play in the Second Continental Congress? 
  • How did the strengths of Washington, Adams and Jefferson combine together to shape American Independence? What were their weaknesses and how did these shape American Independence? 
  • How did the American Continental Army begin to form and what challenges did it face in becoming a national army?

Optional Supplemental Reading

Primary Sources

Articles

Week 13: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 13 Half A War

Thought Questions

  • Who were the Green Mountain Boys and Ethan Allen?
  • What were the opening steps in the forming of the American Continental Army? 
  • Describe the events surrounding the Battle of Ticonderoga. 
  • Describe the geography around Bunker Hill 
  • How did the events surrounding the battles around Bunker Hill unfold? 
  • What was the name of and circumstances surrounding the first well known American Colonial leader to die in the American Revolution?
  • Describe the circumstances surrounding the Second Continental Congress?
  • How were the First and Second Continental Congresses different in character? 
  • What was the Second Continental Congress’ response to the New York Petition? 
  • How did issues relating to transportation and communication effect the opening phases of the American Revolution? (Always ask how transportation and communication effected an event).
  • How was British Canada involved in the early phases of the American Revolution?
  • Describe the early life and experiences of George Washington
  • What is the origin and meaning of the phrase “The Glorious Cause”? 

Optional Supplemental Reading

Continue Reading As If an Enemy’s Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution by Richard Archer

Primary Sources

Articles

 

Week 12: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 12 War

Thought Questions

  • What were the different parts and functions of the Intolerable Acts? 
  • What were the initial reactions to the First Continental Congress? 
  • How did the division between eastern and western Massachusetts reflect the broader divisions in revolutionary America? 
  • How did Britain react to the First Continental Congress and the American responses to the Intolerable Acts? 
  • How did Thomas Gage view the Intolerable Acts? 
  • How did Thomas Gage attempt to enforce the Intolerable Acts? 
  • What were the intentions of General Gage in planning the British expedition to Lexington and Concord? 
  • What were the goals of the Lexington and Concord British expedition? 
  • What were the events that led up to the clashes at Lexington and Concord?
  • What were the events of the Lexington and Concord clash?
  • What were the consequences of the Lexington and Concord clashes? 
  • Who were Joseph Warren and Paul Revere and what was their involvement in the events surrounding Lexington and Concord? 
  • In what ways did the British home reaction to the Colonial response to the Tea Act and the British military’s reaction to armed resistance to the march on Lexington and Concord show a lack of understanding of the situation in the American colonies by the British?
  • In what ways does Lexington and Concord reflect the conflict in the colonies as a Popular Revolution such as the French revolution and not as an institutional Civil War over power such as the Russian revolution? 

Optional Supplemental Reading

Primary Sources

Map

Articles

Week 11: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 11 Resolution

We’ll be reading a great deal about John Adams Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. It is a great idea to read their letters to get an idea of their personality as you read their history. In a way, this is the most significant chapter in this book.

Thought Questions

  • What was the Tea Act of 1773 and how was it a paradox?
  • Why did the Tea Act of 1773 evoke a strong response from the colonies?
  • How was the response to the Tea Act different in the different colonies? 
  • What were the events that led up to the Boston Tea Party and how was the Boston Committee of Correspondence involved? 
  • What is the significant quote from Samuel Adams at the start of the Tea Party? 
  • In what ways did slow communications effect relations between America and Britain? 
  • What was the purpose of the “Intolerable Acts”? 
  • What is meant by “the supremacy of Parliament and King”? 
  • What was the Boston Port Act and the other Intolerable Acts? 
  • What were the terms of the Massachusetts Government Act? 
  • How did Boston and the other colonies react to the Intolerable Acts? 
  • What was the background to the calling of the First Continental Congress and why was it significant? 
  • Describe the early life of John Adams and his convictions and principles and how his Puritan roots effected him.
  • Who were some of the significant individuals involved in the First Continental Congress and how did factions begin to emerge? 
  • What was significant about the First Continental Congress? 
  • How did the pens of Massachusetts compliment the oratory of Virginia? 
  • What were the issues surrounding the debate over non-importation, non-consumption and non-exportation? 
  • Something to keep in the back of your head: As you compare the First and Second Continental Congresses, which is comparatively more significant and which is comparatively more consequential? 

Optional Supplemental Reading

Primary Sources

Articles 

Week 10: The Glorious Cause – Chapter 10 Drift

Thought Questions

  • Who were William Pitt the Elder, George Grenville and Lord North and how did their different leadership styles effect relations with the colonies and the crown?
  • How and Why was the time between 1770-1772 different from the preceding years and how was it different in distinct colonial regions? 
  • What was the American Bishop controversy? 
  • How was the relationship between crown officials and Rhode Island merchants especially difficult and What is the Gaspee Affair? 
  • How did Royal Judicial jurisdiction and Vice Admiralty Courts aggravate relations between the colonies and Britain?
  • What were “Committees of Correspondence” and why and how did the begin? 
  • How did controlled of the salaries of Royal Officials aggravate relations between the colonies and Britain? 
  • What did Thomas Hutchinson’s response to the Boston Committee demonstrate about the Royal Government in Massachusetts? 
  • What was the Hutchinson letter controversy? 
  • Summarize the “Quiet Years” of the American Revolution 

Optional Supplemental Reading

Primary Sources

Articles

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