Unit five independence and New Government "All men are created equal"

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Independence and New Government

"All men are created equal"

from the Declaration of Independence

See page 316

A young Virginian named Thomas Jefferson wrote these words in one of our country's most important documents. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved. It explained to the world why the American colonies were breaking away from Great Britain.

In 1776 the war for independence had already begun. After seven long years the British were finally defeated. The newly independent colonies had become states and needed to create their own government. It was no easy task. In 1789 the Constitution of the United States was accepted. Two years later, the Bill of Rights was added. Together they set down the responsibilities of the government and the rights of the people. A new government began working to build the young United States.


Tough Times

"I lay here two nights ... and had not a morsel of anything to eat." Keep that sad sentence in mind as you look over Valley Forge, where General George Washington and some 12,000 soldiers shivered through the winter of 1777-1778. Today, history buffs come to march across these fields. Even when the place is blanketed with snow, it's hard to picture that terrible winter. But imagine you're a soldier whose shoes wore out weeks ago. An officer whose men grow thinner each day. A commander in chief–sitting at a desk in a stranger's house–wondering how your ragtag army can survive, let alone battle the mighty British.


Imagine getting a letter from that young soldier who hadn't eaten. How would you reply?



Breaking Ties with Great Britain


The story of Chapter 11 begins in New York City in 1735. John Peter Zenger, a printer, was one of the first colonists to help establish freedom of the press, an important right. For the next 50 years colonists in North America moved slowly toward independence from Great Britain. The time line shows some of the events that led eventually to the birth of the United States of America.





How did the colonists begin to govern themselves?



town meeting




Thomas Jefferson

Richard Henry Lee

John Adams

John Peter Zenger

Phillis Wheatley




In 1741 angry members of the Massachusetts assembly tried to remove Governor Jonathan Belcher from office. The king of England had appointed Belcher, but the assembly members did not like him. The governor, in turn, complained about the members. They think, he said, "that they are as big as the Parliament of Great Britain."


As you read in Chapter 9, the population of the colonies grew dramatically in the 1700s. As the colonies grew they gained experience in governing themselves. The colonists had been creating their own governing bodies and laws since the early 1600s. Some followed their own written laws, such as the Mayflower Compact. Most used English laws, such as "innocent until proven guilty," to govern themselves. They modeled their colonial assemblies or law-making bodies, on Parliament. Parliament is Britain's law-making body.

As you read in Chapter 7, the first meeting of Virginia's assembly, the House of Burgesses, took place at the church in Jamestown in 1619. This first colonial assembly served as a model for other colonial assemblies. In this lesson you will read about the colonists' growing desire for self-government. You will also read about how this desire led to the founding of some of the important rights that we enjoy in our country today.



Laws affecting each colony were made by the colonial assemblies. In the New England Colonies, the town meeting was the earliest form of self-government. The town meeting was a group c male colonists who got together to solve local problems.

In other colonies men created written plans for government. These plans spelled out important rights that the colonists would have. The chart on this page lists some of these plans for government in the colonies.

Royal governors

Eight of the 13 colonies were ruled by royal governors. A royal governor was not elected by the colonists. Instead he was chosen by the king of England. Royal governors saw that the colony obeyed British laws. Sometimes the governor and the assembly disagreed on which laws had to be obeyed. If the governor found the assembly unwilling to support him, he could dissolve, or shut down, the assembly.

Assembly members could, in return, refuse to vote for money for the governor's plans. "Let us keep the dogs poor and we'll make them do what we please," one New Jersey assembly member said of the governors. The royal governors did not always have the same view as the assembly members.



In 1624 King James of Britain had made Virginia a royal colony and appointed a royal governor to rule the colony. The House of Burgesses still had some power. It could, for example, decide whether to divide large counties into smaller ones. It could also make laws about the sale of tobacco. By the middle of the 1700s, the colonial burgesses had gained much valuable experience in self-government.

The Talented Burgesses

On a spring day in 1769, Thomas Jefferson traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia's capital. Only 26 years old, the young planter and lawyer had just been elected burgess. Jefferson judged the House of Burgesses to be "the most dignified body of men ever assembled to [make laws]."

Most of the burgesses were wealthy planters. George Washington and Richard Henry Lee served as burgesses. They felt it was their duty to help govern the colony. But sometimes the assembly could try their patience. Lee, who served from 1758 to 1776, admitted to his brother his disappointment about not getting much work done:

I find the attendance on Assemblies so expensive, and the power of doing good so rarely occurring, that I am determined to quit.

Many burgesses also tired of the many procedures connected to government. Formal ceremonies took up most of Jefferson's first day in office.

Members of the Virginia House of Burgesses met in this room (left) in the 1700s. They wore wigs while there.


Thomas Jefferson (left) was painted by the artist C. W. Peale. Richard Henry Lee (below) was also a strong supporter of the colonies' rights.

The House of Burgesses did make some important laws for the colony. The burgesses had the power to print money, call for taxes, build roads, and make land laws. They also had the power to prepare for war and raise money to support the colony's militia. A colonial militia was a military force made up of volunteers. The militia was similar to today's National Guard, which is made up of citizen soldiers.

A Model for the Colonies

By 1760 Virginia's assembly was the model for colonial government. Every colony had elected an assembly like the House of Burgesses. To be elected, a delegate, or member of the assembly, had to meet several requirements. A delegate had to be an adult white male. In most colonies he also had to own a certain amount of land and follow the Protestant faith. Thus in most colonies women, African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and Native Americans could not be elected.

Most of the delegates were wealthy merchants or lawyers. In 1770 a lawyer named John Adams was elected to the Massachusetts assembly. Benjamin Franklin was pleased to serve in the Pennsylvania assembly. Franklin wrote that he was "flattered."

Early Colonial Elections

Elections in the 1600s and 1700s were noisy, social occasions. An election "causes a Hubbub for a week or so," wrote one Virginia colonist. He explained that to Virginians used to "dull barbecues and yet duller dances," an election was quite an event.

On election day men from all over the county gathered at the court house or village common. Voters looked forward to the punch, cookies, and cakes given by the candidates. George Washington provided similar food and drink during his first election to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758.

Unlike today's secret voting, each voter spoke his choice in front of a large crowd. Loud cheers or boos followed each vote. The candidates often personally thanked a voter for his vote.



In their assemblies colonial delegates spoke up for the freedom to rule themselves. The growing spirit of freedom also influenced the press, or news publications in the colonies.

John Peter Zenger

In 1733 a few members of the New York assembly started a newspaper called the New York Weekly Journal. They hired John Peter Zenger, a German immigrant, as its printer. Zenger printed stories that criticized New York's royal governor, William Cosby. One story in the newspaper accused Cosby of being dishonest.

In 1734 the New York sheriff, who supported the governor, burned copies of the paper and put Zenger in jail. The governor accused Zenger of publishing remarks attacking the government.

A lawyer named Andrew Hamilton defended Zenger at his trial in 1735. He argued that Zenger could not be punished for printing stories that were true, even if they were about the governor. Every person had a right, Hamilton said, "publicly to

Phillis Wheatley (above) urged colonists to end slavery. Zenger's trial (left) established freedom of speech.


[oppose] the abuses of power . . . of men in authority."

The jury agreed with Hamilton and found Zenger not guilty. Zenger's victory helped establish an important right, freedom of speech. This right meant that colonists could speak or print the truth without fear of being put in jail.

African Americans Speak Out

Enslaved African Americans took special note of the growing calls for freedom. Alone and in groups, they had long fought to be free from slavery.

One African American who wrote of liberty was Phillis Wheatley. Born in what is now the country of Senegal in West Africa, she was kidnapped and brought to the colonies at the age of eight. Wheatley was then sold as a slave to John Wheatley in Boston. It was common for enslaved people to be given the last name of their owner.

Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley taught young Phillis to read and write English. In 1773 she published a book of poetry while she was still enslaved. Wheatley urged the colonists to free their slaves. "In every human .. . God has implanted a principle, which we call love of freedom," she wrote. "The same principle lives in us."


Since their earliest beginnings the 13 colonies practiced some form of self-government. Far from the king of England, the colonists formed town

Meetings and assemblies and created laws to govern themselves. These laws showed the colonists' desire to be free to live as they chose. These strong beliefs in freedom and self-government would later shape the new government of the United States.


The Power of Poetry

Why are Phillis Wheatley's poems remembered today?

People who are not free to do or say what they want sometimes write down their feelings to make them known. Phillis Wheatley was enslaved, and she could not vote. She used poetry to express her opinions about slavery. Find a poem at home or in your library that you think has a message. Share the poems aloud in class and talk about their meanings.

Reviewing Facts and Ideas


• The early colonial assemblies helped to establish self-government in the 1:: colonies.

• Assemblies such as the House of Burgesses made laws to print money, collect taxes, build roads, make land laws, and organize colonial militias.

• John Peter Zenger's trial in 1735 won support for the right to freedom of speech in the colonies.


1. What were some of the colonies' earliest written plans for government?

2. Who could be elected to serve in the colonial assemblies?

3. FOCUS What were the major duties of the colonial assemblies?

4. THINKING SKILL How would the jury have determined which parts of John Peter Zenger's stories contained facts and which contained opinions?

5. WRITE Write a short speech that a British colonist might have written it support of self-government.




Focus Activity


What led the colonies to rebel against Great Britain?




Stamp Act


Sons of Liberty


Townshend Acts


Committees of Correspondence

Boston Tea Party

Intolerable Acts


Patrick Henry

Samuel Adams

Mercy Otis Warren

Crispus Attucks

Abigail Adams


Hanging from the Liberty Tree, a tall elm in the center of Boston, was a straw puppet of a British tax collector. The colonists were furious about a new tax the British government wanted them to pay. This disagreement was only one of many conflicts between Britain and the 13 colonies that began after the French and Indian War.


What is liberty? The word liberty means "freedom." To the colonists liberty came to mean the freedom to govern themselves.

As you read in Chapter 10, the British government did not allow colonists to move onto lands west of the Appalachian Mountains after the French and Indian War. This angered some colonists. A new tax angered them even more. The British government was deeply in debt and needed to pay for the royal governors and British troops it had sent to North America.

The colonists angrily told the British that Parliament had no right to tax them without the vote of the delegates in their own assemblies. Cries of "Taxation without representation is tyranny" filled the streets. Tyranny is the cruel and unfair use of force or power.

These and other conflicts would soon lead the 13 colonies to rebel against the British government. To rebel is to refuse to obey those in charge because of different ideas about what is right.



After the French and Indian War, the British found that governing and defending its new larger empire was difficult. Taxing the colonists seemed like an easy solution to one problem.

The Stamp Act

The Stamp Act of 1765 was one of the first British laws placing taxes on the colonies. The colonists had to pay a tax every time they bought a newspaper or pamphlet or signed a legal document. These items had to have a stamp on them to show that the tax had been paid.

In Virginia a burgess from the back-country named Patrick Henry spoke to the assembly. He said that anyone who paid the stamp tax was an enemy of Virginia. Another burgess accused Henry of treason. Treason is the betrayal of one's country by giving help to one of its enemies. "If this be treason," Henry replied, "make the most of it." Henry's speeches against the Stamp Act were later published in colonial newspapers. His words inspired many colonists to protest against the Stamp Act.

The Colonists Fight Back

To fight the hated Stamp Act, some colonists formed the Sons of Liberty. The Sons of Liberty were groups of colonists who organized protests against the British government. One member, Samuel Adams, wrote news articles for the Boston newspapers attacking the Stamp Act. Sam Adams was a cousin of John Adams.

In other cities the "liberty boys," as they were called, attacked British tax agents. These protests forced some stamp-tax agents to quit their jobs.

In October 1765 delegates from nine colonies attended a Stamp Act Congress. They decided that Parliament could not tax the colonies without their consent. They demanded that the Stamp Act be repealed, or canceled. A year later, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act.

The Sons of Liberty set up a rally (below) to protest the use of tax stamps like this one (right).



The repeal of the Stamp Act did not end the troubles between Britain and the 13 colonies. Barely a year after the Stamp Act was repealed, Parliament passed another law taxing the colonies. The city of Boston became the center of protest against the new tax.

The Townshend Acts

Charles Townshend (TOWN shund), the treasurer of the British government, called for new taxes in 1767. Parliament then passed the Townshend Acts, which said the colonists had to pay taxes on all the tea, paper, glass, lead, and paint that they imported from Britain.

In Boston the colonists held a town meeting to protest the new taxes. The colonists decided to make a list of all the British goods they would boycott, or refuse to buy. To boycott means to refuse to do business or have contact with a person, group, or country.

Women formed groups called the Daughters of Liberty to support the boycott. The Daughters of Liberty held "spinning bees" to spin thread so that they would not have to import clothes from Britain. The women, wrote one colonial newspaper, act "with the men in contributing to . . . their country and equally share in the honor of it."

Poet and playwright Mercy Otis Warren encouraged women to give up tea and the other goods from Britain. We should make "a small sacrifice," she wrote. "We'll quit the useless vanities [luxuries] of life."

Colonists opposing the British often met in Mercy Otis Warren's home. She later wrote a history of how the colonies rebelled.

The Boston Massacre

Boston soon faced even bigger conflicts. Warren and other Bostonians expected trouble when British troops marched into town in October 1768. That was the first time soldiers had been sent to control the colonists.

Boston residents grew angry as soldiers began their noisy drills and set up guard posts around the city. Some colonists picked fights with the soldiers. Young boys called the soldiers "lobsters" because of their red uniforms and threw snowballs at them.

The growing anger finally boiled over on March 5, 1770. Church bells rang as a large group of colonists met outside the Customs House. Crispus Attucks, a former slave, yelled to the crowd, "The way to get rid of these soldiers is to attack the main guard." In the confusion that followed, the British soldiers fired. Five men were killed, including Attucks.


Sam Adams (left) and John Adams (above right) led the colonists' early struggles. The Boston Massacre (above), engraved by Paul Revere, horrified many colonists.

The people of Boston were horrified at the killings. The soldiers were arrested. John Adams agreed to defend them. Although he did not want British soldiers in Boston, Adams believed the soldiers should have a fair trial.

The Committees of Correspondence

A major step toward uniting the colonies came through the Committees of Correspondence. October 1772 Sam Adams asked the members of a Boston town meeting to form a committee "to state the rights of the colonists." By 1774 all of the colonies except Pennsylvania had formed their own Commit tees of Correspondence. The committee of each colony wrote to each other to inform colonists about important political events in the colonies.

John Adams was also a founder of the Committees of Correspondence. Adams believed that keeping people informed was a very important goal of the committees. He wrote:

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right . . . and a desire to know . . . the characters and conduct of their rulers.



After the Boston Massacre some colonists wondered whether they would have to defend their liberty in battle. Although Parliament agreed to repeal the Townshend Acts, it kept the tax on tea. The colonies began to unite in order to fight this hated tax.

The Boston Tea Party

In 1773 British ships carrying thousands of pounds of tea sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston and other colonial ports. In early December, Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, reported that the colonists were preparing a protest:

The Tea . . . is arrived. . . . I hope [effective] opposition had been made to the landing of it. . . . The flame is kindled [lit] and like Lightning it catches from Soul to Soul.

In fact, on a quiet December night, a group of colonists disguised as Mohawks crept toward Boston Harbor. "Boston Harbor will be a teapot tonight!" they shouted. They then boarded a ship and dumped 342 chests of valuable tea into the harbor.

John Adams wrote about the Boston Tea Party in his diary.

American Nathaniel Currier later painted the Boston Tea Party in his work The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor (above). The Boston Tea Party led King George Ill (above right) to blockade Boston Harbor (right).


The people should never rise without doing something to be remembered—something notable and striking. This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring . . . that I can't but consider it as a [new and important period] in history.

Because the men were disguised, the governor did not know whom to charge for destroying the tea. When King George III learned of the "tea party" he demanded that Boston be punished.

In early 1774 Parliament decided to close the port of Boston until the colonists paid for the tea. Town meetings were banned. Parliament also ordered colonists to feed and house British soldiers in the colonies. The colonists called Parliament's actions the Intolerable Acts.

Unknown to the British, the Committees of Correspondence sent food and money to Boston. "Don't pay for an ounce of the ... tea," they wrote. The committees then worked to decide on a united response to the Intolerable Acts.


The colonists learned about the power of writing and organizing in the Committees of Correspondence, which helped them become more united. The committees saw that they could make Britain repeal some of its taxes. John Adams felt that the Committees of Correspondence had become "a great political engine" that would move the colonies closer toward liberty.

Reviewing Facts and Ideas


• To raise money after the French and Indian War, Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765 to collect taxes from the colonies.

• The Townshend Acts of 1767 made colonists pay taxes on many everyday products. After the Boston Massacre in 1770, the Committees of Correspondence were formed to tell colonists of important events.

• The Boston Tea Party led to Britain's strongest actions against the colonies, the Intolerable Acts of 1774.


1. Why did many colonists oppose the Stamp Act?

2. How did the Sons and Daughters of Liberty oppose the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts?

3. FOCUS What acts of the British Parliament caused the colonists to rebel?

4. THINKING SKILL What effects did the Committees of Correspondence have? Explain your answer.

5. WRITE Suppose you were a member of the Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence. Describe the Boston Tea Party and Intolerable Acts.



Reading Political Cartoons


political cartoon



The trial of John Peter Zenger helped to establish freedom of speech. One way that people in the 13 colonies expressed their opinions was through political cartoons that were printed in newspapers and pamphlets. A political cartoon is a drawing that expresses a cartoonist's opinion about people, political events, or newsworthy issues.

Have you ever drawn a picture to express low you feel about someone or some event? That is what a political cartoon does. Political cartoons deal with very serious issues, such as taxes and elections. Yet cartoonists often treat these issues in a humorous way.

Reading political cartoons can help you earn about the most important issues of a particular time, or in a particular city or 3ountry. Political cartoons give readers something to think about, or sometimes something to laugh about.


Political cartoons often contain symbols that help get their message across to readers. A symbol is something that stands for something else. You know, for example, that the 50 stars of the United States flag stand for the 50 states.


Symbols can be hard to understand. Look at Cartoon A about the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. The small coffin one man is carrying is a symbol for the Stamp Act that has just been repealed, or "killed." The skulls are symbols for other taxes that the colonies had repealed. The men who are sad are British leaders who supported the Stamp Act. In the background, the ships stand for the trade that will begin again between Great Britain and America.

To help readers understand their drawings, some cartoonists use captions. Or they may use dialogue (DI uh lahg) in order to express their opinions in words. Dialogue is conversation. The caption of Cartoon A is the Repeal, Or the Funeral of Miss Ame-Stamp. It does not have any dialogue, but Cartoon B on this page does.

Today, political cartoons appear in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers.

Helping Yourself

• A political cartoon shows a cartoonist's opinion about a person, an event, or an issue.

• To understand a political cartoon, look for symbols and other clues. If there is dialogue, determine who is speaking.


Look at Cartoon B. It was drawn in 1994. What is this cartoon about? It is like many cartoons that find fault with or praise people or events. What point is this cartoonist trying to make? Is this cartoon finding fault with or praising something?


1. What is a political cartoon?

2. How does a political cartoon express its meaning?

3. What kinds of issues does a political cartoon cover?

t. Do you think political cartoons influence people? Explain your answer.

5. If you had to draw a political cartoon, what issue or person would you picture? What symbols would you use to express your opinion? Why?




Focus Activity


What happened in the first battles of the American Revolution?


First Continental Congress



American Revolution

Battle of Bunker Hill




Fort Ticonderoga



John Hancock

Paul Revere

William Dawes

John Parker

Ethan Allen

Israel Putnam

Peter Salem


"The colonies must either submit or triumph," spoke King George III. The King was sure that the colonies would "submit," or surrender, to the authority of the British government. However, many colonists agreed that now was the time to stand up to Britain and to unite the colonies.


On September 5, 1774, delegates from every colony except Georgia met at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia. At this First Continental Congress, delegates wrote a petition to send to King George III asking for repeal of the Intolerable Acts. A petition is a written request signed by many people. The delegates argued that the Intolerable Acts were illegal and unfair. They also claimed that they had the right to make their own laws without Britain's approval.

To fight the Intolerable Acts, the delegates agreed to stop trade with Britain. They also asked the colonists to gather minutemen to defend the cities. Minutemen had to be ready for battle at a minute's notice. They were usually the best trained or most experienced soldiers.

The colonists felt that they needed the minutemen because the conflicts between the colonies and Britain might explode into war at any time. They were right. Within a year the colonists and the British would be fighting a war called the American Revolution. A revolution is a sudden, violent, or very great change.



By 1775 every able-bodied man in every colonial town was required to join the militia. Most of the militia members were farmers, craftsworkers, business owners, and wealthy men. Early in the Revolution some militias allowed both free and enslaved African Americans to join. Later most colonial militias refused to accept any African Americans.

The militias near Lexington were given orders "to be ready at the beat of the drum." The rumor was that the British were going to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, a leading Boston patriot. Then the British would march to Concord to capture weapons the militia had stored there.

Paul Revere

On the night of April 18, a silver smith named Paul Revere learned that the British were leaving Boston and heading for Concord. Revere mounted his horse and rode to Lexington to warn Adams and Hancock. Revere's friend, William Dawes, a shoemaker, joined him on the way to Concord. Trace the routes of Revere and Dawes on the map below.

They were joined by a doctor named Samuel Prescott, who was returning home to Concord. A British patrol caught up with the men. The patrol took Revere's horse, but Dawes escaped into the woods. Prescott was the only one to reach Concord.

Revere's cry, "The British are coming!" is remembered today because of the opening lines from the poem "Paul Revere's Ride." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote it in 1863:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.


A farmer at the Battle of Lexington above) said, "We always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to."


The night buzzed with activity after Paul Revere's ride. Minutemen galloped from their farms to Lexington. About 700 British redcoats marched toward the town. In the early morning hours of April 19, the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.

Lexington and Concord

With the British troops in view, the militia captain John Parker assembled about 70 men in Lexington. "Stand your ground!" he ordered them. "Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

The British advanced, and someone fired. As the Boston poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote years later:

Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world.

In the battle that followed, 8 militia men were killed, and 10 were wounded. Only one British soldier was hurt.

The British then marched 5 miles to Concord. Knowing that they were badly outnumbered, the 250 militia men waited for reinforcements as the British searched the town. The British only managed to destroy a cannon and a small amount of ammunition. The women of Concord kept the soldiers from finding most of the supplies. They had hidden them under straw in barns and in freshly plowed fields.

The minutemen, aided by the militias from other towns, came upon British soldiers blocking the bridge west of Concord. With musket balls whistling around them, the militia were ordered to fire "and not kill our own men." The colonists forced the British to retreat.

Hiding behind trees and buildings, lie minutemen shot at the weary British soldiers who were retreating pack toward Boston. More than 90 British soldiers were killed, and 174 were wounded.


"Liberty or Death"

Muskets were not the only weapons used against the British. In Virginia the fiery speeches of Patrick Henry convinced many in the House of Burgesses that a final break with Great Britain was near.

On March 23, 1775, Henry gave one of the most famous speeches in our country's history. He argued that the British troops were in Boston to take away the colonists' rights. "And what have we to oppose them?" he asked. Read the following excerpt from Henry's speech. What course of action did he suggest the colonies take?

Patrick Henry's speeches inspired colonists to take action against the British. As a result of the speech he gave in 1775, the Virginia House of Burgesses voted to organize a militia for Virginia's defense.



Henry's powerful speech predicted the battles of the coming war. After Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts minutemen kept up their attack on the British around Boston.

"Let the cannon roar," said an English lord. Then the colonists will run away "as fast as their feet will carry them." He was wrong.

The Fall of Fort Ticonderoga

While the minutemen surrounded Boston, a militia leader from Vermont named Ethan Allen set his sights on Fort Ticonderoga. This fort on Lake Champlain was one of the main supply posts for the British army.

The Green Mountain Boys served in the militia under Allen. The band of farmers who mostly made up this group included both blacks and whites.

Near dawn on May 10, 1775, the Green Mountain Boys crept past the fort's light defenses. Allen woke the commander and demanded his surrender. "Come out of there, you old rat," he shouted. Without any bloodshed, the Americans had captured British cannons and cut off British support from Canada.

The Battle of Bunker Hill

In June some 1,200 militia around Boston were sent across the bay to Charlestown. Whoever controlled the

This painting, Battle of Bunker Hill, is by John Trumbull. Most of the fighting took place on Breed's Hill.


Items carried by men in the colonial militia (left) included a flask, spoon, and plate for meals. They also used a lantern (center) for sending messages.

hills surrounding Charlestown would be able to fire cannons on Boston.

Through the night the colonists dug out a rough fort near Breed's Hill. By dawn the soldiers "began to be almost beat out," remembered one colonist, "being tired by our labor and having no sleep the night before." Then a British ship in the harbor began to fire its cannons at the exhausted men.

British troops marched on the fort after noon. "Don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes," ordered the colonial General Israel Putnam. The colonists bravely fought off two charges. But they ran out of ammunition, and a third charge forced them to retreat to nearby Bunker Hill. The British commander Colonel Pitcairn, who had fought the colonists at Lexington, leaped upon a wall of the fort to declare victory. Peter Salem, a former slave, killed him with a single shot.

In what was later called the Battle of Bunker Hill, the British "victory" cost them the lives of more than 1,000 soldiers. Although more than 400 colonists were also killed, they had proven their willingness to put up a hard fight.


In the first battles between colonists and British troops, the colonial militias learned some of the skills they would need in the American Revolution. In the First Continental Congress the colonists gained experience in forming a government for a new country.

By 1775 the final break between Britain and its colonies had not yet come. Some colonists still hoped the British would repeal the Intolerable Acts and restore peace. Already colonial unity and military readiness showed the beginning of a new country—a country separate from Britain.

Reviewing Facts and Ideas


• The First Continental Congress met in 1774 to discuss the colonies' response to the Intolerable Acts.

• The first battles of the American Revolution were fought in Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

• The capture of Fort Ticonderoga and the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 proved that the colonists were serious in their struggle against the British.


I. What actions did the First Continental Congress decide to take?

2. What forces did the colonists have to defend themselves?

3. FOCUS What happened at the battles of Lexington and Concord?

4. THINKING SKILL List in sequence the events leading to the "shot heard round the world."

5. GEOGRAPHY Look at the map on page 301. What waterways did Revere and Dawes cross?




Number a paper from 1 to 5. Next to each number write the two words or terms from the list below that best completes the sentence.

American Revolution


Battle of Bunker Hill






Stamp Act


1. The male colonists elected a ____ to represent them in the ____.

2. The ____ was one of the first battles of the ____.

3. The ____ volunteered to serve in the colonial ____.

4. The ____ was one reason that the colonists decided to ____ British goods.

5. The British thought it was ____ when the colonists decided to ____ against Great Britain's authority.


1. Give an example of self-government in the colonies.

2. How did the trial of John Peter Zenger become important to the colonists?

3. Why did the colonies rebel against the British government?

4. Describe the role Samuel Adams played during the conflict between Parliament and the English colonies.

5. Who was Mercy Otis Warren?

6. Who was Crispus Attucks? In which event did he play a key role?

7. How did the Committees of Correspondence help to unify the colonies?

8. What was unusual about the capture of Fort Ticonderoga?

9. What did the Battle of Bunker Hill accomplish?

10. In the time line above, study the dates for the Boston Tea Party and the Intolerable Acts. Which was a cause for the other? Which was an effect?




Reread the section on Phillis Wheatley and the power of poetry on page 291. Think about what freedom meant to Wheatley. Then write a poem in which you express what freedom means to you.


Reread the excerpt of Patrick Henry's speech to the House of Burgesses on page 303. Suppose that you are a Son or Daughter of Liberty. Write a speech trying to convince others to join your cause.


Suppose that you are assigned to report on the activities of the Patriot forces. Describe the battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill. Include the basic facts and conclusions about the outcome.



Answer the questions below to practice the skill of reading political cartoons.

I. What is a political cartoon?

2. Look at the political cartoon from 1766 on page 298. What symbols does the cartoonist use? What do they mean?

3. What is the caption of the cartoon on page 298? How does this help you to understand the drawing?

4. How do you think this cartoon might have influenced a colonial reader?

5. Do political cartoons express facts or opinions?

Summing Up the Chapter

Copy the cause-and-effect chart on a separate piece of paper. Then review the chapter to complete the chart. After you have finished, use the chart to answer the question "How can an effect sometimes become the cause of other effects?"


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