Unit two american revolution constitution

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I. The colonies in 1763

A. the French and Indian War had been “more a solvent than a cement” - Morison

1. victory was complete in Europe - thus England’s attention no longer diverted

2. colonies become more than just a mercantilistic economic benefit - they test the power

of political control

B. “The colonists argued and then fought not to obtain freedom, but to confirm the freedom they already had or claimed” - Morison

C. some say the American Revolution should be called the British Revolution because of their change in colonial policy

D. colonist’s view in 1763

1. salutary neglect had resulted in two basic assumptions

a. colonists viewed Parliament as supreme in regulating foreign trade

b. colonists believed themselves self-governing in all other ways

2. French and Indian War had been fought to eliminated the French impediment to westward expansion - thus the colonists were expansionistic and optimistic

3. with France removed, the colonists saw less need for British presence

4. new colonial leadership had emerged as a result of the French and Indian War - Patrick

Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Otis, John and Sam Adams, John Hancock - “Mr. Cushing I knew, and Mr., Hancock I knew; but where the devil this brace of Adamses come from, I know not. “ Governor Shirley

5. colonists strongly believed in their rights as Englishmen

6. colonists believed they were the major reason for victory in the French and Indian War

E. despite this, “there was no American nationalism” in 1763

F. the English view of the colonists

1. colonists had given little aid during the war

2. Pennsylvania and New England had openly traded with the enemy

3. Wolfe on the colonists - “The dirtiest, most contemptible dogs you can conceive..” - this was the official view transmitted to London

4. ineffective administration both in customs collections and in other laws

5. the feeling that the colonists had been too long indulged

6. colonists out of step with mercantile philosophy

II. Post-war problems

A. George III

1. twenty-two, insecure, and at times insane - particularly later in life

2. yet he was determined to rule (Barck) - “I know I am doing my duty and therefore I can never wish to retract...I will rather risk my crown than to do what I think personally disgraceful, and whilst I have no wish but for the good and prosperity of my country, it is impossible that the nation shall not stand by me; if they will not, they shall have another king..”

3. the result was a quick turnover in officials

4. (Garraty) - “George I and George II were not indifferent to national affairs and George III was not a tyrant. as once was commonly believed, but the first two were stupid and the third at best an inept politician.”

B. debt doubles as a result of F & I War - 75m pounds to 145m pounds

1. encouragement of autonomy by requisition

2. tax burdens were high in England and both the common man and the leadership thought it fair that the colonies should help defray the cost of their defense

C. salutary neglect

  1. in 1763 - colonists were the freest people in the world - thus attempts to regain

  2. administrative control of the government were bound to be resisted

3. economically - New England was used to doing their own thing - also - discuss lack of respect for English law generally

D. Western problems

1. Indians - Amherst had suggested that free blankets infected with smallpox be distributed to them - or wild dogs loosed on them

2. settlement of the Ohio River Valley from Virginia was expected

3. 1763 - Pontiac’s rebellion - 1774 Lord Dunmore’s War

4. effect on the colonists was that they expected protection from British troops

5. English inherited the fur trade from the French and the colonists now posed the major threat to it

III. Colonial disunity in 1763

A. continued backcountry v east problems

1. Paxton boys - 1764 - outraged at the lack of protection during Pontiac’s rebellion they massacred peaceful Conastogas - threatened Moravian Indians who were protected by British troops in Philadelphia

2. Franklin and the government make some concessions and they go home

3. regulators - North Carolina - 1771 - disagreements over taxes and protection with eastern establishment

B. varying economic interests - particularly between New England and the South

C. after 1763 British colonial policy will alienate every group in the colonies until they come to feel that they have more in common with each other than with England

ORGANIZING PRINCIPLE - From 1763-1776 British attempts to reexert control over the colonies resulted in organized, violent, successful resistance by the colonists.
D. what you need to look for

1. unifying factors

2. establishment of colonial organizational structures of cooperation

3. types of successful resistance

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I. Attempts to reexert control over the colonies

A. Proclamation Act of 1763 -

  1. prohibited settlement west of the Appalachians - those already there had to move back

  2. actually proposed deforesting a strip of land one mile wide from Maine to Georgia

3. four purposes

a. maintain control - geographically restricting the colonies made for easier political control

  1. control of fur trade and land sales were placed directly in the hands of the royal

  2. governor - benefiting the crown rather than the colony

d. redirection of population to Nova Scotia and Florida where it would be most beneficial in a mercantilistic sense

1. coastal markets more easily served by British merchants than inland ones

2. inland markets might encourage the development of colonial manufacturing

d. prevention of Indian problems which might add cost

1. 10,000 troops are sent to the colonies - though Amherst requested only 6,500

2. most quartered in coastal towns

3. what conclusions can be drawn from this - was the purpose preventionof frontier conflict or intimidation

4. colonial reaction relatively mild - why?

a. they flaunted the law and settled west of the line anyway

b. viewed as temporary - Washington - “I can never view that proclamation in any other light than as a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians..Any person who therefore neglects the present opportunity of hunting out good lands and,,marking and distinguishing them for their own will never regain it.”

d. five years later the line is moved farther west

B. Sugar or Revenue Act of 1764 (revised the Molasses Act of 1733)

1. clearly its purpose was to raise money

2. wording of the Molasses Act 1733 - an act “for better securing and encouraging the trade of his majesty’s sugar colonies”

3. wording of the Sugar Act 1764 - “for granting certain duties for defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the colonies

4. Molasses Act yearly customs take was 1900 pounds - administrative cost 7600 pounds -

estimated yearly cost to England of smuggling - 100,000 pounds

5. provisions of the act

a. reduced tariff to 3 pence from six - hopefully it would be cheaper to pay than to bribe customs officials

b. emunerated more products that could be sent only to England

c. smuggling trials moved to admiralty court

1. tried in Nova Scotia

2. no juries

3. had to prove innocence

4. issuing of writs of assistance (define) - emphasize use as intimidation

6. colonial protest center on two arguments

a. taxing v the regulation of trade

b. internal v external taxation

c. “colonists always accepted the right of Parliament to regulate trade because it was easier to ignore than to challenge their right”

7. pamphlets, protests to the king, mass meetings

a. utilization of Locke’s theory of taxation without representation

b. if Parliament can tax our trade why not our land

c. beginnings of non-importation

d. British view of undivided sovereignty

C. Currency Act 1764

1. prevented colonial assemblies from printing paper money

2. shortage of currency hurt trade

3. customs duties had to be paid in specie

D. Quartering Act of 1765

1. British troops could be quartered in taverns, barns, inns, uninhabited houses

2. colonial assemblies had to pay the rent

3. also had to provide fire, candles, beer, bedding

E. Stamp Act - 1765

1. placed a tax on every kind on legal paper, diplomas, licenses, playing cards, newspapers - thus it touches everyone in the colonies

2. it was also internal, direct, and visible - thus it couldn’t be ignored

3. all violations were to be tried in Admiralty Courts

4. colonial reaction - Morison - “extraordinary unanimity of thought and actions”

5. Patrick Henry - Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell - “if this be treason make the most of it"

6. in all colonies the act was rendered useless

7. distributors were harassed into resigning by angry mobs or hired thugs

8. Loyal Nine grows to Sons of Liberty groups - quickly the upper class seizes the leadership of these groups - why? - they become, in essence, organized mobs

a. intimidation amounts to controlled riots

b. no one is killed but significant property damage - crimes against property not person

c. John Weber incident

9. non-importation agreements - designed to put pressure on Parliament through British merchants

10. colonial philosophical objections to the Stamp Act

a. taxation without representation - Locke’s theory of the consent of the governed

b. virtual v direct representation

1. relative merits of each

2. England and the colonists each spoke from their own experience

c. did the colonists want representation

1. geographic distance was a problem

2. they would consistently be outvoted

3. they probably sought a return to pre-1763 condition

4. is the debate one of self-interest?

  1. Virginia resolves - colonial assemblies have the sole and exclusive right to lay and collect

taxes on themselves - Britain might have established requisition system allowing the colonies discretion in how they taxed themselves

12. Massachusetts Circular Letter - called for a Stamp Act Congress

13. Stamp Act Congress meets October 1765 - 9 colonies represented - has been called “the first spontaneous colonial movement”

a. quickly shelves the idea of representation in Parliament

b. emphasized the sole and exclusive right to tax themselves

c. composed largely of conservative upper class

14. March 4, 1766 the Stamp Act is repealed

15. the Declaratory Act added - Parliament has the right to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever - largely ignored because it was seen as a face saving device

F. results of the Stamp Act

1. create a degree of unity

a. alienated all groups in the colonies

b. Stamp Act Congress presents a unified front

c. Circular letters serve to create channels of communication

d. non-importation agreements become widespread

e. coordinated activities of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty in different colonies

2. established the structures for continued agitation

a. Stamp Act Congress - representative meetings

b. Son of Liberty - opens channels of communication

c. Circular letters - open channels of communication as well

3. creates the sense that unified, violent action would result in change

a. violent actions of intimidation were successful

b. violent response therefore becomes self-sustaining because no negative consequences are forthcoming

G. Townshend Acts - 1767

1. following the repeal of the Stamp Act Britain made no attempt to explore acceptable ways to tax the colonies

2. Townshend (Champagne Charlie) - “A statesman who has left nothing but errors to account for his fame.” - Burke

3. taunted Grenville in an hour long speech about ineffective rule of the colonies - Grenville retorts - “You are cowards, you’re afraid on the Americans, you dare not tax America!” Townshend replies “Fear! Cowards! Dare not tax America! I dare tax America.” Grenville, “Dare you tax America? I wish to God I could see it!” Townshend, “I will, Iwill.” and he did

4. the Townshend duties took the colonists distinction of internal/external taxation at face


5. taxed lead, paint, glass, tea

6. provided for more efficient colonial administration

a. colonial customs headquarters moved to Boston

b. absentee customs officials lost their jobs

c. writs of assistance were continued

7. purpose of the Townshend Acts

a. raise defense revenue

b. put royal governors and judges on the British payroll - eliminate the power of the purse from colonial legislatures

c. raised 257,000 in ten years

8. colonial leaders were hard pressed to find philosophical justification for objections to it

a. Dickinson - Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer - “Let us behave like dutiful children who have received unmerited blows from a beloved parent. Let us complain to our parent; but let our complaints speak at the same time the language of affliction and veneration.” - Morison 259

b. Samuel Adams (Father of the American Revolution) had already reached the point of believing that Parliament had no right to legislate for the colonies on any subject

c. political realities kept him from saying that publicly

9. colonial reaction to the Townshend Acts

a. Massachusetts Circular Letter - “The new taxes are obviously unconstitutional but united and dutiful supplications of distressed American subjects would meet with royal and favorable acceptance.”

b. Grafton ministry decides on a showdown - orders Massachusetts to rescind the letter or the General Court will be dissolved

c. Hancock bankrolls activities of the Sons of Liberty

d. customs officials try harassment by bringing false charges against the Liberty

e. Sons of Liberty rescue the ship and chase customs officials to Castle Island in Boston Harbor

f. troops are sent in from Halifax

g. Adams wished to seize the opportunity - called for a representative assembly but most delegations had orders to do nothing rash

h. New York assembly had been dissolved for failure to pay for beer (NY Suspending Act)

10. non-importation agreements

a. in theory voluntary agreements not to import British goods

b. in fact they were enforced by strong arm tactics

c. results were varied

1. Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey imports decline 45-50%

2. in New York 83%

3. in Virginia, Maryland, Carolinas they actually increase

d. purpose was to put pressure on British merchants to lobby Parliament for repeal

11. 3-5-1770 Townshend duties were repealed - except for a tax on tea which George insisted be left “as a mark of the supremacy of Parliament.”

H. 3-5-70 - The Boston Massacre

1. taunting of British troops was great sport

2. additional troops sent out (13)

3. withstood taunts, rotten eggs, snowballs rocks, oyster shells, and club

4. unauthorized firing kills five - Crispus Attucks

5. explore the possibility that it was and orchestrated event

6. the colonial reaction

a. Hancock told the governor that he was through with agitation

b. John Adams - “I shall certainly become more retired and cautious; I shall certainly

mind my own farm and my own business.”

c. John Adams defends the soldiers - gets them acquitted but for two who have their hands branded

d. Sam Adams - “It is to be feared that the people will grow so accustomed to bondage as to forget that they were ever free

7. return to prosperity tempers the colonial reaction - imports to New England increase from 300,000 to 1.2 million

8. Governor Hutchinson adjourns the assemble to Cambridge - effect on Harvard students

9. Sam Adams initiates the idea of Committees of Correspondence

a. purpose was to keep lines of communication open even in non-crisis times

b. its purpose was to create an organization of inter-colonial leaders to keep alive the issue of the defense of colonial liberties

c. gave radical leaders an initial base of support to resist new infringements - it was an organization for revolution

d. loyalist reaction - “The foulest, subtlest, and most venomous serpent ever issued from the egg of sedition.”

e. by 1774 - 12 colonies had Committees of Correspondence

I. Gaspee Affair

1. overzealous enforcement of the Trade and Navigation Acts in Narragansett Bay

2. abuse of colonials livestock, fruit trees, rights, seizure of vessels

3. June 1772 - Gaspee runs aground

a. 150 colonists board, beat up the crew, and burn it to the water line

b. English commission promises to leave no stone unturned

c. trial to be in England - violates the principle of local trial by jury of peers

d. can find no witnesses - disrespect for English authority

e. encourages the formation of new Committees of Correspondence

J. Tea Act - 1773

1. designed to rescue the British East India Company from bankruptcy

2. gives them a monopoly of sale of tea in the colonies

3. reduces the cost of tea while leaving a 3 pence tariff

4. puts legitimate operators out of business as well as smugglers

5. grants the right to sell tea to loyalists

6. colonial reaction - Committees of Correspondence provide remarkably unified action

a. in Charleston the tea is landed but threats so intense it is stored in a warehouse -

eventually sold to benefit colonial cause during the revolution

b. in New York it is not permitted to land and is returned to England

c. Boston - goaded by Southern jibes - “Bostonians were better at resolving what to do than doing what they resolved

d. Adams determined to make a better show of it

e. upon Hutchinson’s refusal to return ships to England - Adams - “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country.”

f. Boston Tea Party 12-16-73

g. prearranged signal they meet disguised as Indians and dump tea into the harbor

h. loss is 10,000 pound worth

7. 1768-1772 - 500,000 pounds of tea imported into New York and Philadelphia - after the

Tea Act - 650 pounds

8. purpose of the Boston Tea Party - to goad England into unwise acts of retaliation

a. negative English public opinion forced the government to act

b. 1774 the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts are passed

c. “The dye is now cast. The colonies must either submit or triumph.”

d. the Intolerable Acts gave radical colonial leaders exactly what they sought

K. The Intolerable Acts - designed to punish Boston until the tea was paid for - king was confident that order could be maintained

1. Boston Port Act - literally closed the port of Boston

a. customs office is moved to Salem

b. warships enforce the no landing order

2. Massachusetts Government Act

a. governor’s council to be royally appointed rather than elected by the assembly

b. unauthorized town meeting and Committees of Correspondence were banned

3. Administration of Justice Act (Murder Act

a. allowed the governor to transfer trials to England or Nova Scotia if an impartial jury could not be found in Massachusetts (soldiers killing people in the line of duty)

b. particularly frightening to colonial leaders who might be tries for treason

4. Quartering Act - authorized greater latitude in gaining quarters for British troops

5. Quebec Act - not specifically designed as a measure against New England

a. extended the jurisdiction of Quebec into the Ohio River Valley

b. codified the rights of Roman Catholics in the region

c. seen as a threat to sea to sea colonial charters

L. effects of the Intolerable Acts

1. remarkable display of support from other colonies - “Nearby towns sent meat, fish, and oil, Connecticut donated hundreds of sheep, Quebec sent wheat, the Carolinas sent rice and other food, and all the colonies donated money.”

2. colonies reacted like a family attacked from the outside

3. Committees of Correspondence called for a Continental Congress which met on September 5, 1774

4. they debated Galloway’s conservative plan until news of the Suffolk Resolves reached them

5. Suffolk Resolves - Galloway - “A declaration of war against Great Britain.”

a. declared the Coercive Acts unconstitutional

b. set up the free state of Massachusetts

c. urged the people to arm themselves and defend their rights

6. actions of the Continental Congress

a. issued a Declaration of Rights - claiming their rights as Englishmen

b. issued a non-importation order effective 12-1-74

c. issued a non-exportation order effective 9-10-75

d. these were to be enforced by the “Association” - Sons of Liberty

e. Adjourned October 1774

7. English counter moves

a. passed The New England Restraining Act

b. forbid New England to trade with any part of the world except Great Britain

c. closed the Grand Banks fisheries to New England


M. unifying factors - English attempts at control alienated all segments of colonial society and all

geographic regions, eventually causing many to see more in common with each other than

with England

N. organizational framework of inter-colonial unity was established relatively early

O. colonial success as defying British law was self-sustaining

P. polarization of attitudes caused differences to be viewed in an emotional rather than a rational light

Q. was the American Revolution preventable? - explore the concept of commonwealth

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I. Philosophy of the revolution

A. Adams - “The revolution was effected before the war commenced. The revolution was in the minds and the

hearts of the people.”

B. Adams’ view is a bit exaggerated - but there was an ideological shift prior to 1775 in the way many (though not most) viewed the British government

C. ideology supporting the revolution came from two sources

1. religious - Puritanism and Calvinism

a. there was a higher law then civil authority

b. when laws contradict God’s law, it need not be obeyed

2. radical British political philosophy - Locke (partially from Hobbs)

a. since man is innately selfish and corrupt - the function of government is to protect

man from each other

b. Hobbs - man in the state of nature - “There is no place for industry....no culture of

the earth....no arts....no letters....no society; and worst of all, continual fear of a

violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

c. government is created to correct this state

d. since government is run by corruptable men, it must in turn be protected from its


e. in the British system this was done through separation of powers into interest

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