Revolutionary Documents

Letters, Legislation,
Acts, Congress & Documents

The Proclamation of 1763

Author: King George III Date:1763 Annotation: In 1773, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) published a brief history of the British government’s actions during the preceding decade. Its title: Rules by Which a Great Empire May be Reduced to a Small One. Beginning in 1763, successive British ministries made a series of political missteps that gradually stirred the…

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Sugar Act

Date: 1764 Annotation: To maintain the army and repay war debts, Parliament decided to impose charges on colonial trade. It passed the Sugar Act, imposed duties on foreign wines, coffee, textiles, and indigo imported into the colonies, and expanded the customs service. Britain required colonial vessels to fill out papers detailing their cargo and destination….

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Currency Act of 1764

Date:1764 Annotation: The Currency Act prohibited colonial governments from issuing paper money and required all taxes and debts to British merchants to be paid in British currency. Document: WHEREAS great quantities of paper bills of credit have been created and issued in his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America, by virtue of acts, orders, resolutions, or votes…

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Quartering Act

Date:1765 Annotation: Parliament approved the Quartering Act, requiring colonial governments to put up British soldiers in unoccupied buildings and provide them with candles, bedding, and beverages. When the New York Assembly resisted, the British governor suspended the assembly for six months. Document: An act to amend and render more effectual, in his Majesty’s dominions in America,…

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A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law

Annotation: This dissertation, written by John Adams, included one of the first arguments to make informed citizens become a check for government. Document: “Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.” This is an observation of Dr. Tillotson, with relation to the interest of his fellow men in a future and immortal…

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Stamp Act

Date:1765 Annotation: To increase revenues to pay the cost of militarily defending the colonies, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a tax stamp on legal documents, almanacs, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards. This was the first direct tax Parliament had ever levied on the colonies and a violation of the principle that only the colonies’…

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The Stamp Act Crisis

Author:   Archibald Hinschelwood Date:1765 Annotation: Eleven years before the Declaration of Independence, a crisis took place that defined the issue that would help provoke the American Revolution: taxation without representation. In order to raise new revenue, Parliament in 1764 passed the Sugar Act, which imposed new charges on foreign wines, coffee, textiles, and indigo…

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The Continental Congress’ Declaration of Rights and Grievances

Date:1765 Annotation: The Continental Congress’ Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Document: We have several times promised to treat our readers with a correct copy of this venerable manuscript, detailing the first movements of the friends of freedom in the new world. It is an official copy, under the signature of John Cotton, Esq. clerk to that illustrious…

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Resolutions on the Stamp Act

Date:1765 Annotation: Resolutions on the Stamp Act, Massachusetts Assembly Document: WHEREAS the just rights of his majesty’s subjects of this province, derived to them from the British constitution as well as the royal charter, have been lately drawn into question: In order to ascertain the same, this house do unanimously come into the following resolves. I. Resolved,…

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Benjamin Franklin and the Stamp Act Crisis

Author:   Benjamin Franklin Date:1766 Annotation: His is one of the most remarkable success stories in American history. The eighteenth child of a Boston candlemaker and soapmaker, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was apprenticed to his brother, a printer, but ran away. As a publisher in Philadelphia, he was so successful that he was able to retire…

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Examination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin in the House of Commons

Date:1766 Annotation: Examination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin In the House of Commons in 1766. Document: Q. What is your name, and place of abode? — Franklin, of Philadelphia. Q. Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes among themselves? — Certainly many, and very heavy taxes. Q. What are the present taxes in Pennsylvania, laid by the laws…

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Declaratory Act

Date:1766 Annotation: The Declaratory Act of 1766stated that the British Parliament’s taxing authority was the same in America as in Great Britain. Document: An act for the better securing the dependency of his majesty’s dominions in America upon the crown and parliament of Great Britain. Whereas several of the houses of representatives in his Majesty’s colonies and…

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Townshend Act

Date:1767 Annotation: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, imposed new duties on imports of glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea to the colonies. The Townshend Acts also expanded the customs service. Revenue from the acts paid the salaries of colonial governors and judges and prevented colonial legislatures from exercising the power of the purse over these…

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Bostonians Protest the Townshend Acts

Author:   John Hancock Date:1768 Annotation: Based in part on Benjamin Franklin’s arguments before Parliament, Charles Townshend (1725-1767), the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, believed that the colonists would find a duty on imported goods more acceptable than the Stamp Act, which taxed them more directly. In 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which placed…

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James Otis Describes the Situation in the American Colonies in 1769

Author:   John Easson Date:1769 Annotation: In this selection, James Otis (1725-1783), one of the early leaders in the colonists’ struggle for independence, informs Catharine Macaulay (1731-1791), an English liberal sympathetic to the colonies’ cause, about the situation in America. A year before he wrote this letter, Otis had rejected in outspoken terms the British…

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North Carolina Regulators

Date:1769 Annotation: The North Carolina Regulators was a popular movement in the 1760s that challenged the colonial government, the powerful landowners, and the officials that dominated its offices. The Regulators were infuriated by the rising taxes, fees, and bad land dealings that were beneficial to the affluent citizens and left many empty-handed. Herman Husband was one…

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Account of the Boston Massacre

Date:1770 Annotation: On March 5, 1770, a 16-year-old barber’s apprentice named Edward Garrick insulted Hugh White, a soldier of the 29th Regiment on sentry duty in front of Boston’s Customs House. The sentry gave the apprentice a knock on the ear with the butt of his musket and a jab with his bayonet. The boy ran…

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A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston

Date:1770 Annotation: An anonymous account of the Boston Massacre on the evening of March 5, 1770. Document: It may be a proper introduction to this narrative, briefly to represent the state of things for some time previous to the said Massacre; and this seems necessary in order to the forming a just idea of the causes of…

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The Boston Massacre

Author:   Deacon John Tudor Date:1770 Annotation: By the beginning of 1770 there were four thousand British soldiers in Boston, a seaport with only 15,000 inhabitants. On the evening of March 5, crowds of day laborers, apprentices, and merchant sailors began to pelt British soldiers with snowballs and rocks. A shot rang out, and then…

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Account of the Boston Massacre

Date:1770 Annotation: The leader of the British 29th regiment, Preston was defended by John Adams for his role in the massacre and was acquitted of all charges. Document: It is [a] matter of too great notoriety to need any proofs that the arrival of his Majesty’s troops in Boston was extremely obnoxious to its inhabitants. They have…

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Captain Thomas Preston’s account of the Boston Massacre

Author:   Thomas Preston Date:1770 Annotation: Captain Thomas Preston’s account of the Boston Massacre. Document: It is [a] matter of too great notoriety to need any proofs that the arrival of his Majesty’s troops in Boston was extremely obnoxious to its inhabitants. They have ever used all means in their power to weaken the regiments, and to…

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Benjamin Franklin Grows Increasingly Alienated from the British Empire

Author:   Benjamin Franklin Date:1770 Annotation: As late as 1775, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was convinced that the issues dividing Britain and the colonies were “a Matter of Punctilio, which Two or three reasonable People might settle in half an Hour.” But years earlier, his enemies were already trying to use their influence within the British…

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The Regulators

Author:   Richard H. Lee Date:1771 Annotation: Even as tension between the colonies and Britain was rising, disputes among colonists continued. In western North Carolina, many farmers, known as Regulators, rose up against wealthy lawyers and merchants, who charged excessive fees for legal services and manipulated debt laws. The royal governor needed more than a…

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Samuel Adams Describes the Situation in Massachusetts in 1772

Author:   Samuel Adams Date:1772 Annotation: As one of the chief organizers of protests against the imperial policies adopted by Britain after the Seven Years War, Samuel Adams (1722-1803) was, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, “truly the man of the Revolution.” A founder of the Sons of Liberty, the Boston-born, Harvard-educated Adams was also a key…

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Boston Tea Party

Author:   George Robert Twelve Hewes Date:1773 Annotation: George Robert Twelve Hewes, a Boston shoemaker who later fought in the Revolution as a common soldier and sailor, was present at the Boston Massacre and served as a leader in the Boston tea party. Document: The tea destroyed was contained in three ships, lying near each other at…

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Tea Act

Date:1773 Annotation: Parliament passed the Tea Act that authorized the East India Company to bypass American wholesalers and sell tea directly to American distributors. Cutting out the wholesalers’ profit would make English tea cheaper than tea smuggled in from Holland. Colonists in Boston, disguised as Indians, boarded three vessels and dumped 342 canisters of British tea…

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John Adams Describes Escalating Tensions in Massachusetts

Author:   John Adams Date:1773 Annotation: In this letter, John Adams (1735-1826) describes the escalating tensions in Massachusetts during the winter and early spring of 1773, and the mounting opposition to Governor Thomas Hutchinson. Two months after this letter was written, Samuel Adams read a private letter of Hutchinson’s before a secret session of the…

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The Boston Tea Party

Author:   John Easson Date:1773 Annotation: A Bostonian named John Andrews (1764-1845) offered the following account of the Tea Party. “A general muster was assembled, from this and all ye neighbouring towns, to the number of five or six thousand, at 10 o’clock Thursday morning in the Old South Meeting house, where they pass’d a…

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A Summary View of the Rights of British America

Author:   Thomas Jefferson Date:1774 Annotation: Two years before the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), then 31, distributed an essay to the delegates at the first Continental Congress in which he outlined grievances against the British government. At the time, this statement was considered too radical by most colonial leaders. In this document, Jefferson…

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Administration of Justice Act

Date:1774 Annotation: The Administration of Justice Act of 1774 Document: An act for the impartial administration of justice in the cases of persons questioned for any acts done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of the Massachuset’s Bay, in New England. WHEREAS in his…

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An Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec

Date:1774 Annotation: The Continental Congress in 1774 made an address to the Inhabitants of Quebec. This address encouraged inhabitants to resist English threats that went against their freedom. It wasn’t taken in good favor as the people of Quebec already knew of their rights and did not need an explanation. They refused to participate. Document: An Appeal…

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Boston Port Act

Date:1774 Annotation: Parliament passed the Boston Port Act in hopes to regain control of an unruly Massachusetts. The act closed the ports in Boston until the city saw fit to reimburse the East India Company for the damage caused by the Boston Tea Party. Document: AN ACT to discontinue, in such manner, and for or such time…

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Massachusetts Government Act

Date:1774 Annotation: The Massachusetts Government Act put the election of most government officials under the control of the Crown, basically removing the Massachusetts charter of government. Document: An act for the better regulating the government of the province of the Massachuset’s Bay, in New England. WHEREAS by letters patent under the great seal of England, made in…

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Quartering Act of 1774

Date:1774 Annotation: Established June 2, 1774, the Quartering Act of 1774 was similar to the Quartering Act of 1765. This act allowed troops to be quartered in private facilities. Document: AN ACT to amend and render more effectual, in his Majesty’s dominions in America, an act passed in this present session of parliament, intituled, An act for…

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A False Report of a British Attack on Boston

Author:   Caesar Rodney Date:1774 Annotation: A signer of the Declaration of Independence from Delaware, Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) served as a major general in the state militia and as president of Delaware during the Revolution. In this letter, Rodney describes the rumors and paranoia following a false report of a British attack on Boston. He…

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Quebec Act

Date:1774 Annotation: The Quebec Act enlarged French Quebec to cover the area as far west as the Mississippi River and as far south as the Ohio River. French law prevailed in this area and the Catholic Church would have a privileged status there. Document: An Act for making more effectual Provision for the Government of the Province…

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Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress

Date:1774 Annotation: Declaration and Resolves of the Continental Congress Document: Whereas, since the close of the last war, the British parliament, claiming a power, of right, to bind the people of America by statutes in all cases whatsoever, hath, in some acts, expressly imposed taxes on them, and in others, under various pretences, but in fact for…

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John Adams Describes the Colonists’ Grievances

Author:   John Adams Date:1774 Annotation: In the following letter, in which he describes the grievances he feels threaten to reduce the colonists to political slavery, John Adams (1735-1826) revives memories of the Puritan struggle against the religious tyranny of the Stuart monarchs during the English Civil War, a subject dear to the heart of…

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Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Author:   Patrick Henry Date:1775 Annotation: A speech made by Patrick Henry to the Virginia House of Burgesses in order to raise support for the American Revolutionary War. The speech was delivered at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. Document: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the…

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How Britain Was Inflaming American Opinion

Author:   Ezra Stiles Date:1775 Annotation: Ezra Stiles (1727-1795), a future president of Yale College, was serving as pastor in Newport at the time he wrote this letter. He describes how Parliament’s repressive laws have inflamed Americans, who fled Europe for freedom. He criticizes Britain for not sharing its triumph over France with its colonists….

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The Battles of Lexington and Concord

Author:   Isaac Merrill Date:1775 Annotation: In February 1775, Parliament declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. This declaration permitted soldiers to shoot suspected rebels on sight. In April, General Thomas Gage (1721-1787) received secret orders to arrest the ringleaders of colonial unrest. Having already learned of the orders, colonial leaders fled Boston…

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Thomas Gage’s 1775 Offer of Amnesty

Author:   Thomas Gage and Laurence Fishburne Date:1775 Annotation: In British eyes, the Revolution was the work of a small group demagogues and radicals who plotted with debtors and smugglers to overthrown British rule. This proclamation, issued by British commander General Thomas Gage (1721-1787), offers a pardon to all Bostonians except John Hancock and Samuel…

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The Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

Author:   Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson Date:1775 Annotation: This was prepared by the Second Continental Congress to clarify why the British colonies had taken up arms against Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson completed the first draft and John Dickinson prepared the second. The final document combined the work of the two. Document: Continental Congress July 6, 1775…

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Olive Branch Petition

Date:1775 Annotation: Two copies of this petition were sent to King George in hopes of settling amicably. But, King George would not accept the petition which prompted the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. Document: SATURDAY JULY 8, 1775 The Congress met according to adjournment. The Petition to the King being engrossed, was compared, and signed by…

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Royal Proclamation of Rebellion

Date:1775 Annotation: This is a royal proclamation issued by George III, responding to increasing hostilities in the American colonies. Document: A Proclamation, by The King, for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition King George III August 23, 1775 George R. Whereas many of our subjects in divers parts of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous…

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Mercy Otis Warren Describes Conditions in the Colonies in 1775

Author:   Mercy Otis Warren Date:1775 Annotation: In May 1775, shortly after the battles at Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. In mid-June, Congress established the Continental Army and named George Washington (1732-1799) commander-in-chief. The colonists needed artillery and in May patriots captured Fort Ticonderoga, a British post in New York,…

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Adam Smith Criticizes the British Colonial System

Author:   Adam Smith Date:1776 Annotation: In his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, the Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790) argued that the individual pursuit of economic self-interest, unhindered by government interference, would promote economic and social well-being. “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher,…

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Declaring Independence

Author:   Thomas Jefferson Date:1776 Annotation: More than a year past between the outbreak of fighting at the battles of Lexington and Concord and the decision to issue the Declaration of Independence. The major reason for the delay was the high value that the colonists attached to unanimity. While New England, Virginia, and South Carolina…

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Original Rough Draught of the Declaration of Independence

Annotation: Image shows the first page of the original four page “first draught” of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson. This early draft, which included several lines condemning the British for sustaining the practice of slavery, was submitted to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, who made several corrections before Jefferson penned a final copy…

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Common Sense

Author:   Thomas Paine Date:1776 Annotation: John Adams called him “the first man of the Revolution.” Teddy Roosevelt called him a “filthy little atheist.” His name was Thomas Paine. The author of “Common Sense,” “The Rights of Man,” and “The Age of Reason,” Paine was probably the most widely read political pamphleteer of the eighteenth century….

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The Resolutions and Recommendations of Congress

Date:1776 Annotation: The Resolutions and Recommendations of Congress. Document: Continental Congress May 10-15, 1776 Friday, May 10, 1776 A letter of the 7, from General Washington, and A letter of the 3, from Thomas Cushing, Esq. being received, and read: Resolved, That they be referred to the committee on the state of the eastern colonies. A letter…

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Fragment of the First Draft of the Declaration of Independence

Annotation: This is the only surviving fragment of the earliest draft of the Declaration of Independence. This fragment demonstrates that Jefferson heavily edited his first draft of the Declaration of Independence before he prepared a fair copy that became the basis of “the original Rough draught.” None of the deleted words and passages in this fragment…

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Richard H. Lee Defends his Call for American Independence

Author:   Richard H. Lee Date:1776 Annotation: Richard Lee (1732-1794), writing to a fellow Virginian, calls for American independence, a goal suddenly and effectively popularized in January 1776 by Thomas Paine’s anonymous pamphlet, Common Sense. Lee subsequently introduced the resolution in Congress “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and…

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John Hancock Recounts British Hostilities Against the Colonists

Author:   John Hancock Date:1776 Annotation: In a message to patriots in Maryland, John Hancock (1737-1793), the President of the Continental Congress, recounts British hostilities against the colonists, including the recruitment of Hessian mercenaries from Germany, and stresses the need for unity among the colonies. Document: Our affairs are hastening fast to a Crisis; and…

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Lee Resolution for Independence

Author:   Richard H. Lee Date:1776 Annotation: The Lee Resolution prompted by Richard Henry Lee was put forth June 7, 1776. Three parts of the resolution included a declaration of independence, an outline for the organization of a confederacy, and the formation of foreign alliances. Document: Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to…

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Virginia Constitution

Author:   George Mason Date:1776 Annotation: The Virginia Constitution, written by George Mason, is significant in that it was the first constitutions dividing the government into three branches. It provided an outline to the U. S. Constitution. Document: CONSTITUTION OF VIRGINIA – 1776.* WE, the Delegates and Representatives of the good people of Virginia, do declare the…

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Virginia Declaration of Rights

Date:1776 Annotation: Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously June 12, 1776 at the Virginia Convention of Delegates. Drafted by Mr. George Mason. Document: I That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest…

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The Declaration of Independence

Date:1776 Annotation: During the Spring of 1776, as the historian Pauline Maier has shown, colonies, localities, and groups of ordinary Americans–including New York mechanics, Pennsylvania militiamen, and South Carolina grand juries–adopted resolutions endorsing independence. These resolutions encouraged the Continental Congress to appoint a five-member committee to draft a formal declaration of independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote…

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Quakers Address the Problem of Slavery

Date:1776 Annotation: “How is it,” the English essayist Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) asked at the start of the Revolution, “that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” Many British Tories taunted colonists with the jarring contradiction between their complaints about political oppression and the reality of chattel slavery. The American Revolution…

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Town Meeting Resolution

Date:1776 Annotation: Town Meeting Resolution, Concord, Massachusetts, 1776 Document: At a meeting of the Inhabitents of the Town of Concord being free and twenty one years of age and upward, met by adjournment on the twenty first Day of October 1776 to take into Consideration a Resolve of the Honorable House of Representatives of this State on…

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John Jay’s 1776 Appeal to the Inhabitants of New York

Author:   John Jay Date:1776 Annotation: Toward the end of 1776, when John Jay (1745-1829) made this appeal to the inhabitants of New York, a pall of despair lay upon the American cause. The New York Assembly had fled to Fish Kill, New York, to escape the British army. Jay, who himself came from a…

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The American Crisis

Author:   Thomas Paine Date:1776 Annotation: Thomas Paine wrote this collection of articles to represent his support for the independence of America and also to describe the crises people would face during the time of the Revolutionary War. Document: THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this…

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Blaming Wartime Inflation on Loyalists

Author:   Josiah Bartlett Date:1777 Annotation: The Continental Congress faced serious problems financing the Revolution. Lacking the power to tax, Congress made assessments of the states, but they provided only limited funds. To pay for the war, the Continental Congress began to issue a national currency known as the Continental dollar. Without gold or silver…

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The Impact of the Revolution on the Homefront

Author: Lucy Knox Date: 1777 Annotation: Wartime conditions thrust new responsibilities upon American women. With many husbands absent, women assumed heightened responsibilities for managing family finances and operating family farms and shops. The correspondence between Lucy Knox and her husband Henry, one of Washington’s leading generals, an artillery expert, and his future Secretary of War,…

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George Washington Reports on the Status of the War to Congress

Author:   George Washington Date:1777 Annotation: At first glance, George Washington (1732-1799) might seem to be an unlikely choice to lead the Continental Army. His only previous military experience, during the Seven Years’ War, had not been particularly successful. He and his men had been ambushed at Pennsylvania and then been forced to surrender Fort…

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George Washington Describes the Continental Army’s Needs

Author:   George Washington Date:1777 Annotation: In May 1777, Washington had an army of only about 10,000 men, of whom fewer than 7,400 were present and fit for duty. Many were unfree, either indentured servants or slaves who were serving as substitutes for their masters in exchange for a promise of freedom at the war’s…

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A Glimpse of San Antonio in 1778

Author:   Juan Agustin Morfi Date:1778 Annotation: In 1777 and 1778, a Franciscan father, Juan Agustín Morfi, traveled into northern New Spain, and offered the following description of San Antonio. Document: On the west bank of the San Antonio river, about a league from its source, above the point where San Pedro creek joins the river, is…

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Treaty of Alliance with France

Date:1778 Annotation: The Treaty of Alliance was a formal treaty with France that established cooperation against Great Britain. In this treaty, France officially recognized the United States as an independent country.   Document: Treaty of Alliance The most Christian King and the United States of North America, to wit, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhodes island, Connecticut, New…

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Sir Henry Clinton’s 1778 Manifesto and Proclamation

Author:   Henry Clinton Date:1778 Annotation: In May 1778, General Henry Clinton (1738-1795) became commander of chief of British forces. He replaced William Howe (1729-1814), who was occupying Philadelphia. The British ministry ordered Clinton to abandon Philadelphia, go to New York, and dispatch some of his troops to the West Indies. While marching across New…

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The War in the South

Author:   Henry Laurens Date:1780 Annotation: France’s entry into the Revolution in 1778 altered the entire nature of the conflict. No longer was the Revolution simply a conflict between Britain and the United States; the war quickly expanded to include a number of other major European powers. In 1779, Spain joined France, hoping to regain…

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The Articles of Confederation

Author:   Edmund Pendleton Date:1780 Annotation: In 1781, the 13 original states ratified the first United States constitution, the Articles of Confederation. The Articles served as the new nation’s plan of government until the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1789. In this letter, Edmund Pendleton (1721-1803) urges establishment of a formal compact…

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Benedict Arnold’s Treason

Author:   Edmund Pendleton Date:1780 Annotation: Toward the end of 1780, morale within the Continental Army reached a low point. Troop strength fell to just 6000, and many officers threatened to resign over unpaid wages and inadequate supplies. In September, one of the frustrated officers–Benedict Arnold (1741-1801)–switched to the British side. Earlier in the war,…

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Thomas Jefferson Describes the Revolutionary War in the South

Author:   Thomas Jefferson Date:1780 Annotation: Few Americans realize that much of the Revolution’s bitterest fighting took place in the South. To replace the army that had been captured at Charleston, Horatio Gates (1728-1806), the hero of Saratoga assembled raw recruits in Virginia and North Carolina. He then rushed into South Carolina to halt the…

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The War in the South: Lord Cornwallis’s 1781 Proclamation

Author:   Charles Cornwallis Date:1781 Annotation: British policy in the South was based on several miscalculations. Britain had decided to concentrate its military efforts in the South because it believed it could count on significant support from Southern loyalists. The British military, however, failed to provide loyalists with effective protection. In South Carolina, for example,…

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George Mason Describes the State of the Revolutionary War in 1781

Author:   George Mason Date:1781 Annotation: In October 1780, Major General Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) replaced Horatio Gates as commander of the American army in the South. Greene proceeded to divide his troops into three smaller forces, one of which worked alongside the rebel guerrilla bands. Greene’s plan was to avoid fixed battles, seize outposts and…

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The Peace Negotiations with Britain

Author:   Edmund Pendleton Date:1782 Annotation: Although Americans often treat their history in isolation from other countries’, in fact foreign events have played a shaping role in the American past. After Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Sir Henry Clinton still had 16,000 British troops in New York. But British leaders were fearful that they might lose…

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Treaty of Paris

Annotation: On September 3, 1783–Two years after the Revolutionary War–The United States of America was officially considered a free nation by Great Britain. Delegates from America and Great Britain met in Paris to make it official. In addition to declaring the United States a free state, boundaries were set, and important rights to fish the Grand…

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African Americans and the Revolution

Author:   Peter Kiteridge Date:1806 Annotation: African American soldiers served with valor at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. In November 1775, however, Congress decided to exclude blacks from future enlistment out of a sensitivity to the opinion of southern slaveholders. But Lord Dunmore’s promise of freedom to slaves who enlisted in the British…

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