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Letter to a Family Member
For this assignment, you will write a letter to a fictional family member; where the family member lives is your choice.
You currently live in Colonial America in 1776, immediately after the Declaration of Independence has been announced throughout the colonies. Where you live in Colonial America is your choice.
In your letter, you will identify yourself as a loyalist or a patriot, and discuss whether the political actions taken by King George III or the Continental Congress were enough. Discuss how the people in your colony are feeling and reacting to the acts that have been imposed. Briefly describe the economic, political, and social impacts you will face; what actions will you take as the 13 colonies and Great Britain wage war?
Your assignment must be a minimum of two pages in length.
APA Style will not be required for this assignment, unless directly quoting. Colloquial tone is permitted.
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to: 3. Summarize the impact of foreign and local governments on civilian morale. 3.1 Discuss the colonial reactions to the political–economic acts imposed during the American Revolution. 5. Discuss the evolution of American philosophies or ideals. 5.1 Describe the economic, political, and social status of Great Britain’s North American colonies during the American Revolution and War for Independence. Course/Unit Learning Outcomes Learning Activity 3.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 4: Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763 (4 sections) Chapter 5: Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763–1774 (6 sections) Chapter 6: America’s War for Independence, 1775–1783 (5 sections) Webpage: Declaration of independence: A transcription Unit III Assignment 5.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 4: Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763 (4 sections) Chapter 5: Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763–1774 (6 sections) Chapter 6: America’s War for Independence, 1775–1783 (5 sections) Webpage: Declaration of independence: A transcription Unit III Assignment Required Unit Resources In order to access the following resources, click the links below. Throughout this course, you will be provided with sections of text from the online resource U.S. History. You may be tested on your knowledge and understanding of the material listed below as well as the information presented in the unit lesson. This unit’s chapter/section titles are provided below. Chapter 4: Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763, Sections 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4. Chapter 5: Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763–1774, Sections Introduction, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5. Chapter 6: America’s War for Independence, 1775–1783, Sections Introduction, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. (n.d.). Declaration of Independence: A transcription. https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript Unit Lesson Under the dominant British leadership, Colonial America successfully and quickly built a robust population of busy cities and thriving farms. Though Britain retained its enforcement of the government within and throughout colonial society, its population was no longer the dominant source of immigrants to this New UNIT III STUDY GUIDE The Age of Revolutions and American Independence HIS 1301, American History I 2 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title World. North America was already becoming a melting pot that would inspire songs and teachings of unity and nationalism even centuries later. Family prosperity and the need for labor ensured that the newly rooted families grew, especially in regions such as the Chesapeake and lower South, while the perceived opportunity increased migration from Europe, Africa (mostly involuntary), and even some Asian regions. From the advent of the 18th century until the years directly before the War for Independence, English America expanded into 13 colonies across multiple geographic and climatic regions along the Atlantic shore. The population grew disproportionately in the northern cities between colonists who remained loyal to the crown and colonists that recognized themselves as Americans, and soon this became a powder keg that exploded with future events that will be discussed later in this lesson. England did not care to understand what loose borders and great distance without representation were doing to divide the American citizenry. The unstable confederation of territories with diverse and growing populations started to fracture, even within towns and counties. This situation was mixed with increasing pressure from a government trying to reacquire its influence from an ocean away. At first, it only generated a series of small skirmishes and chaos, but finally this powder keg ignited a rain of gunfire that heard throughout the world. Cultural Background From the earliest European settlements, the Atlantic colonies were divided by multiple cultural and geographic factors such as climate, ancestry, urban development, and religion. Within these populations was also a very common association with various tribal nations of Native Americans. Additionally, throughout the 1600s and early 1700s, the labor force drastically evolved from mostly European servants to almost universally West African transplants. These changes spurred many additional distinctions in terms of cultural expectation, neighborhood makeup, and the general understanding of what was meant by the American experience. The distinctions between the individual colonies amplified as populations continued to flood into the prosperous colonies from Europe. With this immigrant population also came fresh ideas that challenged the old guard and once again renewed the spirit of freedom of opportunity and enterprise. Religion was one of the largest targets; just as previous generations had moved away from rebellion to religious oversight, now the structure of organized religion itself was caught in the crosshairs of philosophy in what would become known as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, originally a French movement inspired by human potential and manifested in the ideas of vacating (or even rebelling against) political oversight and religious tradition, quickly moved into the Americas. Whereas Europe had centuries of tradition to help slow the effects of this philosophy, America was largely a blank canvas for new ideas and worked like a sponge to soak up the potential for innovation. In tandem with the strengthening of communities and increased literacy among multigenerational families, the ideas of free thinkers quickly spread from the elite to the lower classes through public displays and intentional attempts to rouse a response among the most common denominator. These free thinkers included John Locke, John Smith, Thomas Paine, Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), Denis Diderot, and eventually American leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The outward antagonism against tradition and religion that often came with the Enlightenment eventually released its grip on these colonies; in the next century, the ideas of free will and civil justice became instrumental to the founding of the first truly democratic nation. An argument could be made that the American colonies became a utopia for those rebelling against the ideas of Machiavellianism (a term referring to Niccolo Machiavelli’s masterwork, The Prince, which blatantly defends a ruler’s right to use any and all methods to ensure his rule is respected), which had been used to shape European society and was a common theme among many Enlightenment leaders. As an example of how powerful the Enlightenment was, the challenge to change American culture was instrumental to the Great Awakening, as well as eventually to the development of what was a uniquely American cultural religious perspective: revivalism. Colonies Fight for the Crown To protect itself from the growing populations and new ideas, the English government knew that the Navigation Acts of the previous century required updating. These laws had ensured that British interests were kept in the foreground. They had provided a successful monopoly for many decades, but as the population of HIS 1301, American History I 3 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title these colonies was often no longer dominantly loyal to the British crown, the attitudes and respect of the law were called into question. For this to work, the mercantilist laws had to remain intact, America’s interests had to remain active throughout their ports, and the crown had to be viewed as the absolute final authority as represented by its royal appointed governors. By the mid-1700s, with many families having generations of roots in America, this control was beginning to waver, and colonial assemblies were starting to usurp power from the governor and English Parliament, which were distant and often deaf to uniquely American needs and concerns. This loyalty was soon tested when a full-scale frontier conflict evolved into the first world conflict to be fought on American soil: The Seven Years’ War (i.e., the French and Indian War). What began as a 1754 skirmish between colonists and Native American tribes of the mid-Atlantic, soon blossomed into an international conflict between colonizing nations and eventually between colonizing empires. The French, whose numbers remained small in America, stayed focused on the fur trade near the Mississippi River. This region, dubbed New France, engaged in only rare interaction with the British who, under mercantilist laws, stayed primarily on the East Coast. The quest for land was once again the aggressive instigator of physical reaction as the hunt for new lands for farming, hunting, minerals, and timber caught the attention of entrepreneurs from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Also, their unimpeded venture into New France led to a military response in the form of secured trade routes and military garrisons manned by the French. At this time, many English colonies had not determined western borders because expansion was neither allowed nor supported by the English government until the financial prospects of Virginia Governor Dinwiddie, who supported the new land claims, and challenged the supposed French border. In 1754, a British officer named George Washington, a young native Virginian with a wide knowledge of the terrain and European battle tactics, led a small expedition into the disputed territory that eventually led to the first open gunfire of this frontier fray. The first British stronghold, Fort Necessity, was constructed and was soon attacked with great success by the combined western force led by the French. The French had shown their alliance with the Mingo, Shawnee, and Delaware tribes, and the British felt they, too, needed support. British brashness presupposed that once-honored alliances with Mohawk and Iroquois leaders would immediately garner support. However, in 1754, that alliance was demanded at a meeting in Albany, where in turn, the Native American tribes refused their support, citing poor preparation and limited support from the British. In response, political figures Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Hutchinson supported a temporary union of all British, Iroquois, and Mohawk forces, to which there was absolutely no support, including from the crown. It was clear how divided the colonies and tribes had become and how little the English Parliament cared about American matters that were not directly tied to mercantilist policies. Parliament resolved only to appoint two new governors whose roles were to coordinate all negotiations with Native American tribes. Only the Mohawk pledged support to the British, and such a weak force did not challenge the growing French resistance. Over the next two years, the British continually engaged the French with less than satisfactory resources and numbers. For the French, this was a major conflict, but for the British, it was only a skirmish that did not (yet) threaten the fertile shipping lanes. With the assignment of William Pitt in 1757, the colonial resistance was finally granted enough support to reclaim British lands and push back the French, but the outcome of this was a widening of the conflict to the world stage, exactly the full-scale conflict the British Parliament and king did not want. In the aftermath, the British force was more than adequate to halt French imperialistic goals, and new English lands in America were captured from both of England’s traditional rivals: France and Spain. These included modern Canada, Cuba, and territory to the Mississippi River, of which the Spanish took control. The French were, for all political purposes, removed from the Americas and no longer posed any northern or western threat to Britain’s American empire. The colonists believed that this was their victory, and to those who had fed, quartered, and fought alongside their British cousins, belonged the spoils of war. To the rest of the empire, this was a military solution to a colonial mess—an expensive mess. HIS 1301, American History I 4 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Paying for America’s Protection Fallout from the Seven Years’ War, like the attitude of the imperial leadership, was slanted against the colonists. In 1763, when colonists once again began to spread into new lands for farming and opportunity, renewed skirmishes with the still-fuming Native American tribes caused renewed conflicts, such as Pontiac’s Rebellion and the attack on Fort Detroit. In an attempt to halt any escalation of this conflict, and with the goal of retaining the still-profitable mercantilist system on the coast, the crown and native tribes agreed to what became known as the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This, in simplest terms, was a promise that any Native American tribes who were positioned on what was once disputed French territory between the Appalachian Mountains and Mississippi River did not have to worry about colonial interference or encroachment. The Native Americans were promised compensation and careful review prior to any lands being taken by the crown or colonies. The language of the contract was for the English government to very carefully remain distant, yet respectful, to the tribes affected and was overtly superior to the colonists. For many English subjects living in America, this was a direct insult. Many of them lost properties, livelihoods, and prospects because of these limitations, and colonists who had fought these same tribes felt betrayed and humiliated by their government. Aided by the contract’s vague identification and the less-thanfortified border, the colonists in the West largely ignored the proclamation. Much of the formerly disputed land was soon purchased from those tribes, which also provided some sense of the western borders for many of the colonies. The proclamation was soon viewed as the first rash action taken by the English government against the colonies. A new king, George III, and Prime Minister George Grenville were now in power. In addition to the standing Parliament, the first goal was to reclaim the money lost in the Seven Years’ War, the bill for which, according to the new administration, obviously belonged to the instigator, the colonies. The repayment came from the creation of two drastically apparent new taxes: the Sugar (Revenue) and Stamp Acts. The first act, the Sugar (Revenue) Act of 1764, lowered the price of molasses (used like common sugar today) but greatly increased the tariff for the non-British product. This meant that any item with molasses, such as rum, desserts, or preserves increased in cost. For the traditional customer, who purchased only those quantities normal for self or family, these first two acts were not completely outlandish. However, for distributors who had made up their losses caused by the mercantilist laws from under-the-table deals, this was a serious threat to business. Perhaps more undermining to the American marketer and consumer than the price was the increased monitoring of tariff policy and collection by royally appointed accountants. The second tax, the Stamp Act of 1765, was a tax on any formal piece of paper, which ranged from documents to playing cards. The stamp, which was a designed crest in ink, had a much wider impact on the common citizen because all professions required multiple daily documents to have a stamp, and the collection amount quickly added up to a large sum. The colonists were outraged by these new taxes, and their refusal to adhere to them, especially the Stamp Act, led to its quick repeal (1766), though the damage was done. The English citizens in North America saw how unfairly they were treated, compared to other citizens around the world, and took offense that this taxation, monitoring, and subjugation was claimed as penance for a war that had escalated because of the imperial ambition of the mother country. HIS 1301, American History I 5 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title The response to these acts came from unification, a patriotism toward those living in the Americas and separate from England. Political orators and leaders, such as Patrick Henry, emerged in fits of rage against the cold English policy, remarking that the only authority that could tax Virginia was Virginians (i.e., the House of Burgesses, Virginia’s assembly in Williamsburg). The original intention was not to separate from English authority as a whole, especially because Britain retained the world’s strongest military and had diplomatic connections throughout the world, but only to establish the ability and right to self-govern issues which only affected Virginians. Henry’s reactions, collectively known as the Virginia Resolves, were printed and published throughout the colonies, where it quickly became a rallying cry against the Stamp Act and inspired the term “no taxation without representation!” Henry’s ideas are an example of another major tool that encouraged American support for patriot support: propaganda. What was started in Williamsburg would quickly spread to Boston, a second hotbed for revolutionary ideas that soon was the site that put the propaganda machine into high gear. Before going further, there is a matter of terminology to clarify. Though their titles are often mistakenly interchanged, the terms American Revolution and the War for Independence refer to two different series of events. The American Revolution (“revolt”) was from 1763 to 1775, when the colonists performed actions that were in direct revolt against Great Britain. The fight for independence commenced after the Declaration of Independence was written and rejected by King George III. Britain had no intention of simply giving up the colonies, so the War for Independence—where the colonists fought to gain their independence from Britain—began in 1776. Fighting concluded in 1781 with the Battle of Yorktown, but the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Just as had been the case in Virginia, the northern colonies were dealing with the dilemma of what to do about the new taxes being imposed by the crown during the American Revolution (1763–1775). Like Patrick Henry in Virginia, there was a class of world-caliber politicians emerging in the Massachusetts legislature. For many in Boston, though, the true political body was proven to be found not in the capital, but in the pub—most notably the Green Dragon Tavern. There, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Dr. Joseph Warren, Patrick Henry, James Otis, and others would form one of America’s first true political action committees: the Sons of Liberty. The general mob had proven already to be enough of a voice to expel specific dignitaries and appointments from their office using tactics such as tarring and feathering or outright destruction and violence. However, there was doubt if such actions actually made it back to London, or if anyone in power cared. The outright refusal and destruction in the name of the Stamp Act forced its removal, but not without an immediate statement back to the colonial leadership in the form of a new act, the Declaratory Act of 1766, which stated that the English Parliament was the sole final authority and had the right to legislate over any British colony, for any reason, without exception. The popular meeting place of the Sons of Liberty, the Green Dragon Tavern. (BPL, 2008) Patrick Henry before the Virginia House of Burgesses presenting his speech against the Stamp Act of 1765. (Rothermel, 1846) HIS 1301, American History I 6 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title This was a slap in the face to those who challenged British authority. The government in London, in effect, removed any and all influence or power that local government had in the eyes of the crown and placed the imperial legislators in charge–a collection of voices that did not directly include colonial representation. The next act came soon after, and this was the final straw for many—especially those who depended on the success of shipping channels along the Atlantic Coast. The Townshend Acts (Duties) of 1767 were, in simplest terms, a tax on the importation of many common household goods, ranging from tea to teapots. The tax was to be enforced on the importer. However, like the Sugar Act before, that meant that prices for any affected items also rose significantly, so the tax would affect anyone in English society. In addition, this also caused some previously taxed items, such as paper, to include yet another fee, which now meant that it also cost more for even unofficial use. Once again, the printing press became one of the strongest tools in the patriot’s arsenal. An editorial titled Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania was penned and published across the colonies. This article described the troubling conditions that the new taxation had levied on a poor mid-Atlantic farmer and his family. The story compared the farmer’s experience to that of a slave and reinforced Henry’s message of no representation. Although this painted an inspiring picture, the editorial was not written by a farmer but by a noted lawyer, John Dickinson. However, the ruse was effective enough to inspire and expedite a widespread boycott of those items identified on the Townshend list. The intention of the letter was basic: while the English government deliberately and indiscriminately painted the colonists into an economic corner, it still relied on colonial support for taxes, as well as the greater mercantilist policy, in order to function. A successful boycott could bring down the entire system, and such an impact to the royal coffers would not be ignored. Samuel Adams, now officially an elected member of the regional assembly, echoed Henry’s demand for representation. Its eventual refusal came with an order to dissolve the assembly by order of the Declaratory Act in case of argument or threat, which was overwhelming. Protest was expected, but not from women, who were most directly impacted, on a day-to-day basis, by this boycott. With the word of refusal from London, patriot spirit consumed entire households, and the Daughters of Liberty, a women’s only resistance organization was born. This spirit redoubled boycott efforts and strengthened local communities to support one another by buying local and working together to avoid the British subjugation. Patriotism was growing, as was anti-British sentiment; with the continued rowdiness and increased hostilities, the royal authorities called in military support. In 1768, Boston was overrun by thousands of armed, uniformed troops. With no barracks, these troops required—and demanded—food and quarter from private citizens. With the troops facing limited financial compensation, some demanded jobs or money. By 1770, violence escalated first with what was an accidental shot. However, it was a week later that the real attention-getter came. Samuel Adams, widely known as one of the key instigators against the crown’s authority and leader of the Sons of Liberty (Graham, 1797) HIS 1301, American History I 7 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title In the Boston streets, eight British Regulars, taunted by an increasingly belligerent crowd, opened fire amidst the chaotic scene—11 were shot, and five died from wounds received, including Crispus Attucks, an African American dockworker who shared the patriotic spirit. Once again, propaganda became the greatest weapon of the patriot cause. The scene, which was, in reality, a chaotic mess of lower-class Bostonians and British guards, was recorded for posterity as a regal firing squad executing upper-class White citizens under strict orders. The engraving, ironically produced by Paul Revere (see image), based on a similar work by artist Henry Pelham, whom Revere did not credit, circulated throughout the colonies and reinforced the already restless frenzy. A trial exonerated the eight British soldiers, who were defended by John Adams, with only minor penalties. But the damage was already done. In this chaos, the British Parliament removed the Townshend Acts, which ended taxes on glass, lead, paint, and paper, and encouraged an end to the boycott of British goods. However, Parliament took an exception to the tax on tea, which remained in place. For almost four years, the feeling throughout the colonies remained generally calm, with few incidents of increased tension. Finally, though, with increased lines of communication developed in terms of Committees of Correspondence, there was another spark. Though sales improved when the boycott was lifted in 1770, smuggled Dutch tea (which also originated from the same locations in India) was clearly eating into British profits. To counter this issue, the final part of the Townshend Act, the tax on imported tea, was lifted to try and beat the price on the suppliers of the Dutch imports. This declaration, known as the Tea Act of 1773, was to no avail, as colonists did not trust the ploy. What occurred then once again inspired the propaganda machine and patriot support, One of the most recognizable and flamboyant displays of resistance in America was the destruction of the tea. This event was first identified by its contemporary name, the Boston Tea Party in an 1826 publication, and the name stuck. The Boston Tea Party was an intentional public display of resistance against the attempted regulation of smuggled Dutch tea into the colonies, although the plan of action was secret. When the initial plan of pressuring assigned couriers into not delivering the English goods started, members of the Sons of Liberty in Boston came up with the public spectacle. On December 16, 1773, with a disregard to the empire’s new act, three ships in Boston’s harbor were the stage for this act of public disobedience. Under the darkness of night, wearing garb more fitting for Native Americans, specifically that of the Mohawk tribal nation, 150-plus antiBritish supporters boarded the ships and tossed over 92,000 pounds of tea from India into Boston Harbor. The restrictive taxes drew a town meeting that same night in the port area, and those who left through the port witnessed the blatant act, ensuring that it would be the talk of the town for days and reach audiences well outside of Boston. Nevertheless, if anyone was recognized, people remained tight-lipped. Participants could have faced civil and criminal charges. While some condemned the action for fear of retribution of the British government, confidentiality for the participants was kept, so much so, that only some of the participants’ names are known today. Interestingly, the display of resistance in Boston struck a chord within the colonists, and additional tea parties were held in New York, Annapolis, and Charleston, South Carolina throughout 1774. Paul Revere’s famous woodcut, “The Bloody Massacre in King Street,” is a prime example of early propaganda (Revere, 1770) HIS 1301, American History I 8 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Finally, the last hammer fell. What began shortly after the Proclamation of 1763 with the Sugar Act, reached its pinnacle in response to the destruction of the tea. The governor of Massachusetts—a royalist, yet often reasonable viceroy— took swift and determined action. With the support of Parliament, in 1774 he issued the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts, which directly punished the Boston population. The four Intolerable Acts were: 1. Boston Port Act: This was the closing of the Boston Port until the tea was paid for, which punished not only shippers, but merchants who depended on shipments, buyers for the boats, repairs, and any other associated costs. 2. Massachusetts Government Act: This reinforced the earlier Declaratory Act, with the added provision of complete supremacy over the Massachusetts colony. This included the removal of Hutchinson as governor and limiting the office’s power. The position was now to be appointed, and that appointed official would appoint all other state officials, taking any elector rights away from the people. No assemblies were legal unless approved by the governor, including approval of any agenda items. In practice, Massachusetts became a military state with increased military presence and limited concern about colonists’ needs and rights. 3. Impartial Administration of Justice Act: This simply stated that any appointed royal official accused of a capital offense (such as the Boston Massacre) must be transported to England for trial, thus removing any chance for tampering or public pressure on the accused. 4. Quartering Act: This opened any and all beds, including private residences, to soldiers. With the increase in regiments from the government act, this was not only put more pressure on the private citizens who might no longer have a place to sleep in their own homes, but also removed any safe houses for leaders or meetings for any kind of resistance. Last, a fifth act, called the Quebec Act, was more geared toward the entire colonial refusal and anti-British sentiment. The British lands (modern Canada) that had previously been French territories before being claimed by the American colonies after the Seven Years’ War, were now officially part of Quebec. Now under the direct jurisdiction of the British Empire, the American colonies no longer held any influence in these Quebec lands. In response to hearing of these acts, several other colonies took preventive measures, such as the removal of potentially dangerous assemblies, and they feared their communities were liable for the same treatment if more lines were crossed. These were the actions of the appointed authorities, for those in support of the patriot cause, such as the Committees of Correspondence—established a few years earlier—would meet again and officially unite in September 1774 in Philadelphia at a convention now known as the First Continental Congress. Only Georgia lacked at least some kind of representation in Philadelphia. Regional concerns and needs were clearly identified, but overall it was clear that some united message, a declaration of rights, must be sent to London in an attempt to relieve the military state that the Intolerable Acts had created, and also to once again demand representation in Parliament. The only weapon remaining was another boycott, though they proposed limits to the previous refusals. The London representatives, upon receipt of these demands, ignored A more civil illustration of the Tea Party rebellion and not an accurate representation of the event at all. (Sarony & Major, 1846) HIS 1301, American History I 9 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title them. Britain did not recognize any colonial assemblies and would not react to threats or demands from any such institution. Scheduled to meet again in May 1775 to discuss impact and outcome of the demands, the Second Continental Congress did not come soon enough to stop war from erupting. The first shots were heard in the Boston suburbs of Lexington and Concord in 1774. Localized militia men, some of whom had little to no experience in combat, thrust themselves into the battle as the first line of defense. Dubbed minutemen for their resolve to bear arms at a moment’s notice, it was clear there was no peaceful end to the brewing conflict with the regiments now stationed in and around Boston. The Midnight Riders In April 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, a leader within the Sons of Liberty, initiated the order to alert the colonists that the Regulators were on the approach. In total, four men—Paul Revere, Samuel Prescott, Israel Bissell, and William Dawes—made midnight rides to give warning of the forthcoming danger. The rides were, for all intents and purposes, successful. However, Revere never rode through the towns shouting, “The British are coming!” It is more likely that he rode quietly because there were Red Coats (or Redcoats) everywhere, and he, along with all of the midnight riders, had to ride as quickly and quietly as possible to reach their destinations. While Revere did make it to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams, he was captured by the British in Lexington. Dawes was thrown from his horse along the way and he was forced to return to Lexington. Prescott, a native of Concord, Massachusetts, was able to reach Concord safely and deliver the news of the British’s planned arrival by sea. Israel Bissell, also known as Isaac or Trail, actually began his ride on the Old Post Road days earlier because he had much more ground to cover. Bissell’s journey began in Watertown, Massachusetts, just west of Boston, and ended 345 miles away in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—four days later. Some historians argue that Israel Bissell is actually the name given to a number of post riders who rode the usual route for the initial postal service. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the Bissell who made the midnight ride eventually registered for the Continental Army and served under Colonel Erastus Wolcott, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. One more midnight ride took place on April 26, 1777, when 16-year-old Sybil Ludington, made her 40-mile midnight ride to warn the colonists of Danbury, Connecticut, that the British forces were en route. General George Washington celebrated her heroism and a statue was erected in Carmel, New York, in her honor. As the British marched through Concord and Lexington, fights between the Red Coats and the colonial militia took place in both towns. While the stores of ammunition and weapons were not found by the British, and the planned assault backfired as the Regulars attempted to return to Boston, in the end, 273 British Regulars were injured or killed, along with 93 minutemen. In the aftermath of this bloody exchange, there were promises and oratory from all sides to anyone who would listen about freedom, rights, and liberty,. But for all immediate purposes, the talking was over. Interestingly, almost 100 years later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow captured this fateful ride, and gave credit to only one of the five riders with his poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Though not entirely accurate in its description, the tone and tenor of the poem is an excellent example of the nationalism and propaganda that inspired many to join the patriot’s cause, just as this same Paul Revere had done with his engraving of the Boston Massacre years earlier. Finally, the resounding shots were fired, and there was no turning back. The colonists of Statue of midnight rider Sybil Ludington (Anthony22, 2006) Image of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. (Wood, 1931) HIS 1301, American History I 10 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Massachusetts, without any formal assembly, declared war on the mightiest military on Earth. The War for Independence, which would shock the world, began with a volley of gunfire from a dedicated militia. Thus, on April 19, 1775, the midnight rides and a barrage of gunfire in the outskirts of Boston became first of many skirmishes in a regional conflict that inspired a series of revolts throughout the world. The British Empire, a kingdom that had influence or settlements in every major culture was challenged because of its corrupt institutional control. The American patriots’ success was the first of many examples of rebellion, which essentially ended the European colonial period. However, a successful republic cannot be built overnight. The Founding Fathers, a collection of political icons, spoke for the American resistance by openly committing treason against the monarchy. The fervor of revolution successfully led to independence in 1776, but zeal alone can only unite for so long before chaos ensues. With discussion of the main points of the war, it is important to observe how a wartime government was able to rally a union, but not successfully lead a state. With the war’s end, a fragile confederation of independent states needed greater leadership and order. It would appear that the pen, not the sword, would forge a republic for the people, by the people. The militia of Lexington and Concord lost less than 100 minutemen on the first chaotic night, a victory in every sense, as the highly trained regulars stationed in and around Boston had almost three times as many casualties. For so many Americans, this was above and beyond any tax on tea or paper goods—it was a demand to be heard and respected by an elitist government an ocean away. For most who would take up arms against the crown, this was a response by several generations of American-born English citizens who had again and again failed to be treated as equal to their social peers in England or to be represented. This, too, was a reason to cry for “Liberty!” an oddly ironic sentiment. The war, and the post-war government, would become the stage for a second liberation movement. Upward of 20,000 liberated or escaped enslaved people would enlist with England against their native America, in hopes of gaining the freedoms promised to them by British command. The final business of the First Continental Congress was to decide on a setting and intent for the next gathering. Expecting to pick up discussion on the successes and failures of the boycott on English goods when the Second Continental Congress met in May 1775, they suddenly found themselves now the only collection of authority to assess the needs of a nation. Through the life of the war, this congress would establish the basic frameworks of a wartime government with a clear precedent to avoid the corruptive influences of their former nation, especially the idea of a strong federal core that did not account for individual As shown here, the earliest action of the war was focused around today’s greater Boston area. (National Park Service, 2000) HIS 1301, American History I 11 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title needs. These administrators would need to establish an army and printed (though greatly unstable) currency to fund it, and also lay the foundations for a government once the war was over. Only weeks into the fighting, and with wavering support among some of the colonies, there was still the expectation that reconciliation was inevitable—this rebellion was thought to be but a footprint in the monarchy, with the intent to ensure better treatment and representation. However, by the time the congress disbanded this second time, reconciliation was no longer a viable option. A Nation Prepares for War The patriot leaders had committed treason, and not all leaders were completely comfortable with the split which, even if the war went well, would have unexpected impacts on security and economics. The American colonies were now an enemy of the crown, and the only detectable reunion would come with total surrender to King George III. Still, led by the voices of those delegates whose colonies had seen the worst of the atrocities, the Congress put in the necessary effort and enacted steps to defend their lands. From Massachusetts, Samuel and John Adams continued the rhetoric which gave their neighbors reason to pick up a rifle–tales of bloodshed and oppression that others had only read about resounded in the hall. To lead the American forces, a former officer of the British Army, George Washington, took the challenge to create and lead the Continental Army. Washington, a native Virginian and veteran of the Seven Years’ War, had seen firsthand the discrimination towards the colonies, and knew the strengths, tactics, and resolve of their opponent. To rally support with the American people, masters of rhetoric, including Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson, published pamphlets highlighting the needs and causes of the troubles. They worked to spread the call for support and fuel the anti-British sentiment that was so prevalent in New England. With only the most basic federal government system in place, the union of colonies was still weak, but driven together by a common bond of frustration and oppression. A government structure was in place, a small but determined defense was assembled, a united currency was printed, and America was past the point of no return. The British Army had no shortage of leaders. Its successes against Spain and France, as well as its continuous skirmishes with Native Americans and the Dutch within its colonies, provided plenty of opportunity for learning and advancement along its ranks. Among the first wave into the colonies was a focused assault intent on stomping out the areas of greatest perceived threat to break the Americans’ spirit. Generals Thomas Gage, William Howe, John Burgoyne, and Henry Clinton arrived in Boston Harbor in June 1775 with regiments enough to challenge a fitted army. They had more than enough force, or so it was thought, to scare away a militia consisting of farmers with pitchforks. The British tactics were uniform and brutal. In formed ranks, and without visible concern or panic, musket fire was projected at the outmatched continental army. The Americans, having knowledge of the geography, successfully took a toll on the regiment’s size, but as one redcoat fell, another simply stepped into his place. Despite marching uphill, the Battle of Bunker Hill was a decided British victory. Even with the lopsided casualties, the Americans never had a chance, and Gage marched his troops into Boston, where a smallpox scare caused a need to stop for treatment, which halted progression. What proved to be the determining factor in this battle was neither the leadership nor numbers, though; it was preparedness and supply. The British Regular literally out-gunned the Continental soldier as a lack of ammunition broke patriot lines and opened holes for British advances. Bunker Hill was an inevitable call for action. The British were a serious threat, and the colonies needed to decide either to fight or reconcile. From moderates, appeals, such as the Olive Branch Petition, continued a tradition from the pre-war years. Demands for representation and equal citizenship were hurdles; with each A very dignified painting of King George III; at this time, he was still rather young and not yet showing the ravages of war, age, and madness. (MacArdell, 1751) HIS 1301, American History I 12 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title plea, even with these appeals, the colonies’ representatives reaffirmed their loyalty to George III, who simply disregarded each, on a par with parole opportunities from traitors. On the other side of the British Isle, the call for action was headlined by the work of an English national whose time in America allowed him the perception of the differences. Thomas Paine would publish Common Sense, a short, yet poignant, look at the reality of divine right when the common good requires hearing the voice of the people. Paine’s words, coupled with quickly mounting pressures and news of potential international interference in this civil war by German mercenaries (Hessians), caused the majority of colonies to seek formal separation. On July 2, 1776, by a vote of 12 yeas, 0 nay, and 1 abstaining, the 13 original British colonies voted for independence from English protection and laws. Thomas Jefferson and a select few penned the now-famous preamble and justifications, explaining the reason and rationale for independence from George III. After two days of revision and debate, the penned resolution was adopted on July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was signed by 33 delegates, several of whom did so reluctantly; four outright refused. Those signatures, including that of the ostentatious John Hancock, were left off of the original printing sent throughout the colonies to avoid exposing the treasonous few who signed, but also likely providing greater unity than might have been gained by highlighting who did not. Soon after, the leaders of the new colonies, with some exception, wrote America’s first (temporary) government, the Articles of Confederation. The Faces of War Often overlooked in the formality and fanfare of the declaration and opening year of the war are several influences which, on paper, were not even eligible for enlistment in the war. Women, such as Abigail Adams and Mary Otis Warren, were fervent workers behind the scenes. Abigail Adams, the most trusted counselor to her husband John, was also quite perceptive of the inequality of the independence that was sought and fought over when only males of a certain status, race, and age were truly granted all qualities of citizenship. Most women, however, either protected the home while the men were away, or followed the camps, making a living working odd jobs either with family or the army as needed. The next group were Americans of African descent, or as would be any generation born in the colonies, African Americans. At this time they were, with rare exception, judged solely by the color of skin and not their inalienable rights. African American men were eventually granted an opportunity to fight, first for the British, then the colonials, but not without great anxiety or even choice. There was a clear sense of distrust between A very nationalistic image of the colonies’ leadership jointly signing the Declaration of Independence; records from inside tend to show a more chaotic atmosphere. (Trumbell, n.d.) When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. –Preamble to the Declaration of Independence HIS 1301, American History I 13 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title the White and African American soldiers, especially with the enslaved people who enlisted. The duties of these different races reflected this difference. The approximately 5,000 African Americans who joined the Continental Army served as laborers or as unarmed assistants (flag bearers, musicians, go-fors) for the British. However, there was a greater need: many of these enlisted servants knew the region as well as, if not better than the soldiers–they could navigate, blaze trails, and work as informants. Native Americans, too, were greatly affected by this war. At first, many tribes saw the war as potentially a winwin: no matter who won, one group would be gone, and the other wounded. Many tribes counted on this becoming a high-casualty war that would halt the spread any further to the west. Soon, though, it would become apparent that if sides were not taken, neither would hold back, and most tribes inevitably chose the British. The British promise, as was previously stated in 1763, was to respect their lands, which helped ensure mercantilism on the coast. As the war turned, however, the tribes who sided against the colonies would ultimately lose much more than was gained. A few tribes would side with the Patriots, but this was not enough to end western expansion. An unexpected hindrance would be Loyalists, or Tories who did not agree with the patriots’ cause, or who depended on British protections and decided to enlist with the Regulars and fight. A major benefit to these enlistments was their familiarity with the land, and some even had battle experience. The negative, though, was their lack of training and conviction toward the cause. In general, Loyalist companies were less than stellar, and most moved out of the colonies after the war instead of returning home to the neighbors they abandoned or to go into the anti-crown government. By 1777, these Loyalists were officially considered traitors and were liable to be public humiliated, suffer economic hardship, or harm if seen as a hindrance to the patriots’ cause. The last influence, disease, had arguably the most significant impact on the war. This was especially true during the winters and as new recruits or territories would expose both armies to conditions for which they were ill-prepared. This started with smallpox threats along the Atlantic Coast and required armies to halt for inoculation and ended with outbreaks of camp-borne diseases such as syphilis, which spread quickly from a lack of sanitation and antiseptic. Major Points of Emphasis The early years of the war primarily affected the North. This was the home of the majority of the American population, site of some of the most noteworthy discrepancies, and nearest to the British strongholds in what is now Canada. Several battles took place in close proximity to one another. The adage an army marches on its stomach is very true in this instance. Anywhere the soldiers went, so did the camp, and movements had to be strategic. The army generally could not move more than a few miles in one day. On October 17, 1777, the Battle of Saratoga took place between British General Burgoyne, who had unexpected losses from his previous encounters, and American General Horatio Gates. The site was Saratoga, New York, where one of the British lines was completely decimated. The aftermath included 600 dead, munitions destroyed or taken, and a wild two-sided story about the ill treatment of a woman that rallied both local and continental support. The greatest victory from this, though, was the interest and promise from a new ally: the French, who were longtime British rivals. The French promised funds, soldiers, formal training, and a Navy to challenge the British—a force that the Americans did not have, the lack of which had stymied provisions and funding for the Patriot force. It was the Battle of Saratoga that ultimately changed the tide of war, but that was not yet evident. Washington, weary from months at war, potentially about to lose most of his experienced soldiers due to enlistments ending, and enduring harsh conditions and waning American support, traveled to Valley Forge. It was here that he and his army settled for the winter months. At this point, the experienced British General Howe had captured Philadelphia, the nation’s early capitol city, and knew that the French interference could quickly change the pattern of the war. Howe offered a cease-fire, but not independence; his offer was quickly rejected, and the war waged on. Small skirmishes took place during the winter, especially with local tribes, but formal battle was at a standstill. HIS 1301, American History I 14 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title The normal European style of battle consisted of two armies lining up parallel to one another, then marching at each other while alternating fire until within charging range—this was civilized combat, and the British had perfected it. The Americans, however, had survived to this point with a much less traditional style, which was similar to modern guerilla tactics. Because of this, the war shifted to the outskirts of the field of battle where the outmanned and outgunned patriots could use full advantage of their knowledge of the terrain and trails. As most of these skirmishes were small in scale, even a poor result would not wipe out a regiment of American soldiers, as was commonly the case in a civilized war. This also essentially took away much of the advantage of the British cavalry and artillery because the individual American soldiers had greater movement that was less predictable. As winter passed, the French and Americans officially joined an alliance. This gave America its official sovereignty as an independent nation and ensured that the French support would begin moving across the Atlantic. For the French, this was simply another battlefield, one away from their lands, in which to attack the hated British. It was also potentially a way to recapture some colonial areas from Britain in a peace treaty. However, the French first had to get to America. It was not as easy for the French as simply loading a standing army on a boat—they had to commission soldiers, officers, boats, munitions, and supplies. They had to train, clothe, and respond to the national needs first before any alliance. As days passed without any sign of their arrival, the patriots became more war weary. Ironically, the British successes in the early years of the war had done harm to their own cause as well. More territory to protect meant fewer soldiers to attack with, and the addition of a major European power, along with only minor victories from the militia-style of combat, did not bode well for the classically trained Regulars. To counter this, the British had a new plan: move to the South. Traditionally less of a hotbed of support for the war because of the largely low White population and limited direct influence from the troubles in Massachusetts and Virginia, these agricultural communities were quickly addressed and moved through. To lead these forces, the British moved General Clinton, who had replaced Howe in command, and introduce another legendary leader: Lord Cornwallis, a recognized tactical genius. These two together quickly moved north, entering Virginia in the early 1780s. Their overconfidence, however, was part of their downfall in the South. The patriots, too, found the key to Southern victory in stronger leadership. One of Washington’s most trusted strategists, General Nathanael Greene, was sent to the South to replace the less-than-successful General Gates. Greene, along with some other noteworthy leaders— Andrew Pickens, Francis Marion, Daniel Morgan, and Thomas Sumter—helped to rally support in the Loyalistheavy region. Successes in the South eventually led to the surrender by Cornwallis in 1781, after French support and a typhus outbreak penned his forces at Yorktown. War’s End—A Scenario Fit for Film Do not be surprised if this setting may seem familiar. The 2000 blockbuster film, The Patriot, focuses on this Southern campaign, from the delayed debate of South Carolina’s entry into the war to the British surrender at Yorktown. The protagonist of the film (Mel Gibson’s character) is actually based on a fusion of four patriots (Pickens, Marion, Morgan, and Sumter) from the South Carolina region. As is often true with Hollywood, be careful not to confuse history with legend. Even considering the combined impact of four distinct men; the Rambo-like qualities and impact of the fictional Benjamin Martin is still overly exaggerated. However, this does provide the audience with some sense of the type of guerilla warfare and tactics used in the latter stages of the war. Ironically, Hollywood is not alone in making myth out of fact; many artists are just as guilty. For example, German artists Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting of Washington crossing the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, is simply not a realistic rendering. In reality, Washington was not just trying to get to the other side; he was attempting a surprise attack on 1,400 Hessian soldiers in Trenton, New Jersey. To succeed, Washington needed three different river crossings to get 5,400 men across but, in reality, only about 2,400 soldiers led by Washington made it safely across. The soldiers came across on Durham boats, about 40 to 60 feet in length HIS 1301, American History I 15 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title with high side walls, built to move goods along the rivers and sturdy enough to withstand the ice-clogged Delaware River. The artillery and horses were transported on ferry boats. Thankfully, Washington and his men were guided across the river by an experienced waterman because they were crossing the river near midnight, and a powerful storm bringing in snow and sleet slammed Washington and his troops. After Yorktown, with the exception of small frays in the frontier, the war was over. For Great Britain, it was no longer economically sound to attack the American colonies. Britain continued to lose support for the war as it waged on, and in that sense there was not enough of a force to counter the French reinforcements. With the surrender at Yorktown, the armies of Washington and Greene successfully wrapped up the two major fronts. After the Treaty of Paris signing in 1783, King George III officially recognized the former colonies as an independent American nation. The success of these soldiers and politicians became the base of nationalist teachings in America; treason became patriotism, and taxation became oppression. This helped inspire others to revolt in the coming decades, most notably the French people in the mid-1780s. The end of the war, however, was not without great disappointment for the American cause. One of the heroes of the northern campaign and a trusted friend of Washington’s, General Benedict Arnold, was caught selling secrets to the British. Arnold felt overlooked through most of the war for his dangerous, yet successful, campaigns. At the time when he received the commission he desired of command at Fort Arnold (today known as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point), he was in too deep and was caught attempting to surrender the fort, which sits on a pivotal bend on the Hudson River, to the British. This ugly situation, however, did not come to fruition and only increased the fighting spirit of those loyal to the separation cause. The treaty did mean freedom for many enlisted men who were formerly enslaved people; those who served with the British would generally leave the United States heading to Canada or Africa. The Native Americans were not as lucky; for those tribes that supported the British or who lived nearest to the now independent states, the end of the war began the first migrations into the Midwest. References Anthony22. (2006, April 23). Ludington statue 800 [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ludington_statue_800.jpg BPL. (2008, May 21). Green Dragon Tavern1 [Image]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Green_Dragon_Tavern1.jpg Graham. (1797). Governor Samuel Adams [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Governor_Samuel_Adams.jpg Leutze, E. (1851). Washington crossing the Delaware [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emanuel_Leutze_Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_The _Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art.jpg MacArdell, J. (1751). George III as Prince of Wales [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_III_As_Prince_of_Wales.jpg Majestic depiction of Washington crossing the Delaware. The painter, however, took liberties, including some faults, such as an inaccurate image of the winter climate’s effects on this particular river. (Leutze, 1851) HIS 1301, American History I 16 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title National Park Service. (2000). Concord retreat [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Concord_Retreat.png Revere, P. (1770). The bloody massace perpetrated in King Street Boston on March 5th, 1770 [Image]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boston_Massacre.jpg Rothermel, P. F. (1846). Patrick Henry in 1775 [Image]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patrick_Henry_178x178.jpg Sarony, N. & Major, J. (1846). Boston tea party [Lithograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boston_tea_party.jpg Trumbull, J. (n.d.). The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 [Lithograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Declaration_of_Independence_July_4_1776_by_John_ Trumbull.jpeg Wood, G. (1931). Midnight ride of Paul Revere [Image]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Midnight_Ride_of_Paul_Revere.jpg Suggested Unit Resources In order to access the following resources, click the links below. Who were the people who served in the American Revolution? Men? Women? Children? White? Black? (Side note: In this video, the terms American Revolution and War for Independence are used interchangeably). Watch this video to learn more. PBS (Producer). (2002). A people’s war (Segment 1 of 8) [Video]. In Revolution: Freedom, a History of US. Films on Demand. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=https://fod.infobase.com/PortalPl aylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=44248&loid=113255 The transcript for this video can be found by clicking on the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database. The infant American Continental Army, supported by thousands of volunteer militia, are battling the strongest military in the world. Yet, against the odds, the American forces emerge victorious! Watch this video to learn more. PBS (Producer). (2002). The world turned upside down (Segment 2 of 8) [Video]. In Revolution: Freedom, a History of US. Films on Demand. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=https://fod.infobase.com/PortalPl aylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=44248&loid=113256 The transcript for this video can be found by clicking on the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database.