Causes of the American Revolution Question



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Causes of the American Revolution


Question: To what extent were the American colonists justified in fighting a war to break away from Britain?

Directions: The following question is based on the documents provided. As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of the document and the author’s point of view.

Be sure to:

  1. Carefully read the document-based question. Consider what you already know about this topic. How would you answer the question I you had no documents to examine?

  2. Now, read each document carefully, underlining key phrases and words that address the document-based question. You may also wish to use the margin to make brief notes. Answer the questions that follow each document.

  3. Based on your own knowledge and on the information found in the documents, develop a thesis that directly answers the question.

  4. Organize supportive and relevant information into a brief outline.

  5. Write a well-organized essay proving your thesis. The essay should be logically presented and should include information both from the documents and from your own outside knowledge of the topic.

Part A: The following documents address the question of whether the American colonists were really justified in fighting against Britain. Examine each document carefully, and answer the question or questions that follow.

Document 1

This excerpt is from "Considerations . . .," a pamphlet written by Tomas Whately. Whately was an advisor to George Grenville, British Chancellor of the Exchequer (1763-1765) and the author of the Stamp Act. In this pamphlet, Whately explained why the British were justified in placing taxes on their American colonists.

We are not yet recovered from a War [French and Indian War] [fought] for their [the American colonists’] Protection . . . a War undertaken for their defense only . . . they should contribute to the Preservation of the Advantages they have received . . ."

Why did Whately (and probably most other British officials) feel that the American colonists should be willing to pay higher taxes to Britain?



Document 2

These excerpts are from "The Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations [unlawful acts], all [aimed at] the establishment of an absolute Tyranny [i.e. abuse of power] over these States.

In every stage of these [unfair and illegal actions by the King] We have [asked for help in dealing with this situation] in the most humble terms. Our repeated [requests for help] have been answered only by repeated [abuses]. A Prince, whose character is [so abusive of his power], is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

How does this document describe the British King, George III?

Was the Declaration an unbiased, fair look at the conflict between the colonists and Britain? Explain.



Documents 3

This excerpt is from Thomas Paine’s, Common Sense (1776), a pamphlet that was influential in gaining support for the Revolution. In it, Paine explains why he believed it was necessary for the American colonies to gain their independence from Great Britain.

But the injuries and disadvantages we [receive] by that connection [to Great Britain], are [very many]; . . . any submission to, or dependence on Great Britain, [will] directly . . . involve [America] in European wars and quarrels; and [makes us enemies] with nations, who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom, we have neither anger nor complaint.

According to Paine, how did America suffer from its connection with Britain?



Document 4

The engraving above, produced by Paul Revere, depicts the first armed conflict between American colonists and British forces in 1770.

How did works like those in documents 3 and 4 influence the feelings of the American colonists, and the debate over whether to rebel against Britain?

Document 5

How might a British representative used the information from the chart above in defense against the complaints of the colonists?



Question: To what extent were the American colonists justified in fighting a war to break away from Britain?


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