San Diego State University American Revolution History Discussion


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Independence and War
• Review – Authors of Independence
• Thomas Paine
• Thomas Jefferson
• John & Abigail Adams
• Colonists become Criminals
• George Washington
• Continental Army
• Battles ~ Loses & Wins
• Visions Self Government
• Articles of Confederation
* Coercive Acts. (Intolerable Acts) London passed several acts
to punish Massachusetts. The Boston Port Bill banned the
loading or unloading of any ships in Boston harbor. The Administration of Justice Act offered protection to royal officials in Mass.
The Massachusetts Government Act put the election of most
government officials under the control of the Crown, essentially
eliminating the Massachusetts charter of government.
* Quartering Act. Parliament broadened its previous Quartering
Act (1765). British troops could now be quartered in any occupied
* The Colonies Organize Protest. Massachusetts suggested another boycott, but several
states preferred a congress of all the colonies to discuss united resistance. The colonies soon
named delegates to a congress — the First Continental Congress — to meet in Philadelphia
on September 5 at Carpenter’s Hall.
*The First Continental Congress. 12 of the 13 colonies sent a total of 56 delegates to the
First Continental Congress. Only Georgia was not represented. Congress passed the
Association of 1774, which urged all colonists to avoid using British goods, and to form
committees to enforce this ban.
* New England Prepares for War. As British troops fortify Boston, Committee of Safety to
direct a militia formed. Minute Men organized to be ready for instant action – seized
ammunition belonging to the colony of Massachusetts.
*New England Resists. British troops continued to attempt
to seize colonial ammunition, but were turned back in
Massachusetts, without any violence. Royal authorities
decided that force should be used to enforce recent acts of
Parliament; war seemed unavoidable.
*Lexington and Concord. British troops sent to destroy
American ammunition at Concord. Boston Committee of
Safety learned of plan & sent Paul Revere and William
Dawes to alert the countryside and gather the Minute Men.
On April 19, Minute Men and British troops met at
Lexington, where a shot from a stray British gun lead to
more British firing. The Americans only fired a few shots;
several Americans were killed. The British marched on to
Concord and destroyed what ammunition they could find. Countryside filled with militia. At
the end of the day, many dead on both sides =269 dead & wounded Brits and 93 dead colonialist.
Volunteers assemble from all colonies & marched to Boston.
*The 2nd Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia on May 10. John Hancock was
elected president of Congress. *On June 10, John Adams proposed the forces in Boston
become a Continental army, and recommended George Washington for the position –
nominated June 15th. To pay for the army, Congress issued bills of credit, 12 colonies promised to
share in repaying the bills.
1775 cont
*Bunker Hill. On June 12, British General
Gage put martial law in effect, and stated that
any person helping the Americans would be
considered a traitor and rebel. When
Americans fortify a hill against British
forces, British ships in the harbor discovered
the activity and opened fire. British troops -2,400 in number — arrived shortly after. Although
the Americans — 1,000 in number — resisted
several attacks, eventually they lost the
*Olive Branch Petition. Congress declared
loyalty to the king, George III in hopes for a
reconciliation and to prevent further hostilities against the colonies. 4 months later, King
George III, hearing about Bunker Hill, rejected it and declared the colonies in rebellion.
*Congress Creates a Navy. Congress began to plan for aggressive action against British
ships stocked with ammunition. It authorized the building of four armed ships, and began to
formulate rules for a navy. Soon after, Congress authorized privateering, and issued rules for
dealing with enemy vessels and plunder.
*Congress Searches for Foreign Aid. When a congressional committee began to investigate
the possibility of foreign aid in the war against Great Britain, France expressed interest.
*”Common Sense.” Thomas Paine moved many to the
cause of independence with his pamphlet titled “Common
Sense.” In a direct, simple style, he cried out against King
George III and a tyrannical form of government.
*The British Evacuate Boston. American General Henry
Knox arrived in Boston with cannons he had moved with
great difficulty from Fort Ticonderoga, New York. Americans
began to entrench themselves around Boston, planning
to attack the British. British General William Howe planned
an attack, but eventually retreated from Boston.
*Congress Authorizes the Colonies to Write
Constitutions. In May, the Second Continental Congress
adopted a resolution authorizing the colonies to adopt new
constitutions; the former colonial governments had dissolved
with the outbreak of war.
*Congress Declares Independence. Virginian Richard
Henry Lee offered a resolution stating that the colonies
“are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” A committee drafted a
Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write it. On July 2,
Congress voted in favor of independence, and on July 4, the Declaration of Independence
was approved. Copies were sent throughout the colonies to be read publicly.
Paradoxes of Thomas Paine

Inspired passions and criticisms
Inspired ideas of independence but was rejected for his views on religion
Published author who had failed out of school in England
Failed in his apprenticeship as a corset maker
Odd jobs: sailor, tax officer = published re: pay raise for officers
1774 – Meets Benjamin Franklin in London = helps him immigrate to Philadelphia
Journalist of pamphlets in PA
• Common Sense Jan 1776
• The American Crisis 1776-1783 = read by more % of the people than today watch the
Abandoned the Revolutionary cause → returned to Europe to pursue inventions and
business ventures
The Rights of Man, 1791-92 criticizing those opposed to the French Revolution → labels him
an outlaw in England and he flees to France to join the Nat’l Convention
1793 = Opposes execution of Louis XVI and imprisoned. In prison he writes and publishes an
anti-religion text, The Age of Reason, 1794-1796
Escapes execution through help of James Madison (US Minister to France)
Returns to America 1802 by invitation of Thomas Jefferson. Paine’s anti-religious views had
over-shadowed his contributions to US Revolution.
Died 1809 in NYC in nearly complete obscurity – abandoned by the public and his friends.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense
“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. . . . Society in every state is a
blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable
one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might
expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish
the means by which we suffer. . . . Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to
obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by
importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they
have but little opportunity of knowing its true interest, and when they succeed to the
government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions. . . . Of
more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever
lived . . . When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary. . . .
The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a city, a country, a province, or
a kingdom, but of a continent—of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. . . . I offer nothing
more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense. . . . O ye that love mankind! Ye
that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is
overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long
expelled her — Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O!
receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind. . . . We have every opportunity and
every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth.
We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will,
in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the
love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have
this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What
we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its
value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange
indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. . . . Not all the
treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war,
for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and
kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to “bind me in all cases whatsoever” to
his absolute will, am I to suffer it? . . . . Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes
that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should
have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;” and
this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. . . . Not a place
upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling
world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them.
A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am
that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign
dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent
must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine,
the coal can never expire.”
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right
of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who
denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he
precludes himself the right of changing it. . . .The most formidable weapon against errors of
every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall. . . . I believe in one
God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe the equality of man;
and I believe that religious duties consists in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring
to make our fellow-creatures happy . . . . . Every national church or religion has established
itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals.
The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and
the Turks their Mahomet; as if the way to God was not open to every man alike. Each of
those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The
Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians
say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of
God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the
other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all. . . . All national institutions of
churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human
inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. . . .
People in general do not know what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. . . .
The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them
Statements about Thomas Paine by John Adams
“You know that the unanimity of the States finally depended on the vote of
Joseph Hewes, and was finally determined by him. And yet history is to
ascribe the American Revolution to Thomas Paine! Sat verbum sapienti [“a
word to the wise is sufficient”].” 1819 letter to Thomas Jefferson
“Without the pen of Paine, the sword
of Washington would have been wielded in vain.”
“I am willing you should call this the Age of Frivolity as you do, and would not object
if you had named it the Age of Folly, Vice, Frenzy, Brutality, Daemons, Buonaparte,
Tom Paine, or the Age of the Burning Brand from the Bottomless Pit, or anything but
the Age of Reason. I know not whether any man in the world has had more
influence on its inhabitants or affairs for the last thirty years than Tom Paine. There
can be no severer satyr on the age. For such a mongrel between pig and puppy,
begotten by a wild boar on a bitch wolf, never before in any age of the world was
suffered by the poltroonery of mankind, to run through such a career of mischief. Call
it then the Age of Paine.” 1805 letter to Benjamin Waterhouse
Letters between John and Abigail Adams
Philadelphia July 3. 1776, John to Abigail
Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in
America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among
Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony “that these
united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent
States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to
make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other
Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do.” You will see in a
few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes, which have impell’d Us to
this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it, in the Sight of
God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days.
[Jefferson, Thomas]. A Summary View of the Rights of British America. Set Forth in Some
Resolutions Intended for the Inspection of the Present Delegates of the People of Virginia. Now in
Convention. By a Native, and Member of the House of Burgesses. Williamsburg: Printed by
Clementina Rind, [1774].
Instructions to Virginia’s Delegates to the first
Continental Congress
written by Thomas Jefferson in 1774
Thomas Jefferson, then a delegate to the Virginia Convention from Albemarle
County, drafted instructions for the Virginia delegates to the first Continental
Congress. Jefferson’s instructions were published by his friends in Williamsburg. His
ideas and smooth, eloquent language contributed to his selection as draftsman of
the Declaration of Independence.
. . . too plainly prove a deliberate, systematical plan of reducing us to slavery . . . That
these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty with that freedom of
language and sentiment which becomes a free people, claiming their rights as derived
from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate. ”
Fairfax County Resolves, July 18, 1774
The Fairfax County Resolves were written by George Mason (1725–1792) and
George Washington (1732/33–1799) and adopted by a Fairfax County Convention
chaired by Washington and called to protest Britain’s harsh measures against
Boston. The resolves are a clear statement of constitutional rights considered to be
fundamental to Britain’s American colonies. The Resolves call for a halt to trade
with Great Britain, including an end to the importation of slaves. Jefferson tried
unsuccessfully to include in the Declaration of Independence a condemnation of
British support of the slave trade.
, we will use every Means which Heaven hath given us to prevent our becoming it’s Slaves . . .
Resolved that the Claim lately assumed and exercised by the British Parliament, of making all
such Laws as they think fit, to govern the People of these Colonies, and to extort from us our
Money with out our Consent, . . . is totally incompatible with the Privileges of a free People, and the
natural Rights of Mankind; will render our own Legislatures merely nominal and nugatory, and is
calculated to reduce us from a State of Freedom and Happiness to Slavery and Misery. ”
Suffolk Resolves, September 1774
Numerous meetings held in Massachusetts 1774 to protest the Coercive Acts. Sept 6 & 9
delegates from Boston and Suffolk County, compose resolutions that became known as the
Suffolk Resolves:
• Coercive Acts unconstitutional and void; officials enforcing these were called upon to resign
• urged Massachusetts to establish a separate free state until the Coercive Acts were
• called for the creation and enforcement of a boycott of British goods and trade with Britain
• advised the people of Mass. to appoint militia officers and commence arming their local
• announced that subjects no longer owe loyalty to a king who violates their rights.
These resolutions were passed by a unanimous vote of the Suffolk County towns on September 9.
Paul Revere carried a copy of the Suffolk Resolves to the Continental Congress in session
in Philadelphia. Discussion of the resolves split the Congress; some felt the statements
were too radical and were an invitation to war. Nonetheless, the Resolves were endorsed by
a vote of the Congress on September 17.
Thomas Jefferson’s Draft of a Constitution for Virginia,
predecessor of The Declaration Of Independence
May-June, 1776
Immediately on learning that the Virginia Convention had called for
independence on May 15, 1776, Jefferson, while a Virginia delegate to the
2nd Continental Congress, wrote at least three drafts of a Virginia constitution.
Jefferson’s drafts are not only important for their influence on the Virginia
government, they are direct predecessors of the Declaration of
Jefferson’s 1st Draft of a Constitution for Virginia
“Constitution of Virginia first ideas of Th: J. communicated to a member of the
Convention.” It bears no date, but TJ stated an obvious fact when he declared it to
be “prior in composition to the Declaration”
(TJ to Augustus B. Woodward, 3 Apr. 1825).
• Whereas George King of Great Britain & Ireland
. . . . hath endeavored to pervert the same
into a detestable & insupportable tyranny . . . by combining with others to subject us to a
foreign jurisdiction giving his assent to their pretended acts of legislation for imposing
taxes on us without our consent.
• for quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
• for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
• for imposing taxes on us without our consent:
• for depriving us of the benefits of trial by jury:
• for transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:
• for suspending our own legislatures & declaring themselves invested with power to
legislate for us in all cases whatsoever
• by plundering our seas, ravaging our coasts, burning our towns, & destroying the lives of our
Virginia Declaration of Rights, May 1776
Adopted June 12, 1776
The Virginia Declaration of Rights was adopted unanimously in June 1776 during
the Virginia Convention in Williamsburg. The Virginia Declaration of Rights can be
seen as the fountain from which flowed the principles embodied in the Declaration
of Independence, the Virginia Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
“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 their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty,
with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining
happiness and safety.
That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that
magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.”
June 7, 1776: Lee Resolution
Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, read a resolution before the Continental Congress “that these United
Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the
British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally
June 11, 1776: Committee of Five Appointed
Consideration of the Lee Resolution was postponed—the “Committee of Five” was appointed to draft a statement
presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence.
June 11–July 1, 1776: Declaration of Independence Drafted
On June 11, Congress recessed for three weeks. During this period the “Committee of Five” (John Adams, Roger
Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson) drafted the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson drafted it, Adams and Franklin made changes to it. Congress reconvened on July 1, 1776.
July 2, 1776: Lee Resolution Adopted & Consideration of Declaration
On July 2, the Lee resolution was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies (New York did not vote). Immediately afterward,
Congress began to consider the Declaration. Congress made some alterations and deletions to it on July 2, 3, and the
morning of the 4th.
July 4, 1776: Declaration of Independence Adopted & Printed
Late in the morning of July 4, the Declaration was officially adopted, and the “Committee of Five” took the
manuscript copy of the document to John Dunlap, official printer to the Congress. Printed Declaration of
Independence, called the Dunlap Broadside. About 200 copies were printed and circulated.
July 5, 1776: Copies of the Declaration Dispatched
On the morning of the July 5, copies printed by John Dunlap were dispatched by members of Congress to various
committees, assemblies, and to the commanders of the Continental troops. (On July 9, the action of Congress
was officially approved by the NY Convention.)
July 19, 1776: Congress Orders the Declaration Engrossed on Parchment
Congress ordered that the Declaration be “fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and stile {sic} of ‘The
unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America’ and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by
every member of Congress.”
August 2, 1776 – 1781: Declaration Signed
The document was signed by most of the members on August 2. George Wythe signed on August 27. On
September 4, Richard Henry Lee, Elbridge Gerry, and Oliver Wilcott signed. Matthew Thornton signed on
November 19, and Thomas McKean signed in 1781.
Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, adopted July 4, 1776, announced the birth of a
new nation AND also set forth a philosophy of human freedom that became a dynamic force
throughout the world. The Declaration drew upon the political philosophy of the Enlightenment,
especially that of John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, with conceptions of
traditional rights of Englishmen universalized into the natural rights of all humankind. Its opening
passage echoes Locke’s social-contract theory of government:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are
instituted among Men, deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed, that whenever any
Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to
abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying
its foundation on such principles, and organizing its
powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Jefferson linked Locke’s principles directly to the situation in the colonies. To fight for
American independence was to fight for a government based on popular consent in place of a
government by a king who had “combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our
constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws….” Only a government based on popular
consent could secure natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thus, to
fight for American independence was to fight on behalf of one’s own natural rights.
“There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And
he can double the reward on my head!”
― John Hancock
Signature of LAST patriot to sign, Thomas McKean,
my ancestor, who was leading troops in battle under
Washington during initial signing ceremony.
Government in the Colonies – Proprietary Colonies
The Proprietary colonies were territories granted by the English Crown to one or
more proprietors who had full governing rights. There were three propriety colonies:
Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Government in the Colonies – Charter Colonies
The Charter Colonies were written contracts between the British King and the
American colonists. The Charter Colonies were Connecticut, Massachusetts
(Charter then Royal) and Rhode Island.
Government in the Colonies – Royal Colonies
The Royal colonies were administered by a royal governor and council that was
appointed by the British crown. The Royal colonies were New Hampshire, New
York, New Jersey, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia
Colonial Government
• Were extension of the British government with a Governor, governor’s court and legal
• The colonial governments of the 13 colonies took a variety of forms. By 1775:
• 8 of the colonies had royal governors, who were appointed by the king
• 3 of the colonies, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware were under proprietors who
themselves chose the governors.
• 2 of the colonies, Connecticut and Rhode Island, elected their governors under selfgoverning rule.
The End of Colonial Government – Colonies turn themselves into States
• Spring 1776 all governors of the 13 colonies had either fled or been thrown into prison =
effectively put an end to colonial government.
• May 1776 Continental Congress advised all the colonies to form governments for themselves.
All but two made new constitutions; Connecticut and Rhode Island used their old charters.
• They turned themselves from British colonies into sovereign and independent states.
United States becomes a united, sovereign and national state
• While the colonies turned themselves into the states, the Continental Congress was trying to
bind them into a union with a general constitution called the “Articles of Confederation.”
• Approval of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation brought into being the United
States as a united, sovereign and national state.
Congress of the Confederation
• Under the Articles of Confederation, a unicameral legislature,
“Congress of the Confederation” created 1781 and remained a
governing body until 1789.
• All states had equal representation
• States had power to veto most decisions determined by the
• Congress had no real power over the States = considered
sovereign entities.
• Congressional decisions could ultimately be ignored by the
• Members of the 2nd Continental Congress automatically
carried over to the Congress of the Confederation when the
latter was created by the ratification of the Articles of
“Articles of Confederation
and Perpetual Union”

1776 – first proposed
1777 – adopted
1781 – ratified by all
U.S. = 13 sovereign states
‘Congress of the
All states equal in
‘Executive’ type powers
latent in Gen. Washington
1783 – Treaty of Paris –
ends War of Independ.
Del. were Franklin, Jay
and Adams
1783 – 1787 – Multiple
problems challenged the
No powers to = set tariffs,
regulate commerce, levy
taxes, negotiate w/
foreign countries, form an
army, coin money
*Battle of Long Island. After leaving Boston, British General Howe planned to use New York as a base.
The British captured Staten Island and began a military build-up on Long Island in preparation for an
advance on Brooklyn. Washington succeeded in saving his army by secretly retreating onto Manhattan
Island. Washington eventually retreated from Manhattan, fearing the prospect of being trapped on the
island, and the British occupied New York City.
*Congress Names Commissioners to enact Treaties with Foreign Nations. Congress sent a delegation of
three men to Europe — Silas Deane, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur Lee — to prepare treaties of commerce
and friendship, and to attempt to secure loans from foreign nations.
* The Battle of White Plains. British and American forces met at White Plains, New York, where the
British captured an important fortification. Washington once again retreated, still attempting to save his
army from the full force of the British army.
*(Bad Winter). Washington and his army
retreated across New Jersey, crossing the
Delaware River into Pennsylvania.
Congress, fearing a British attack on
Philadelphia, fled to Baltimore. Talk about
replacing him. Thomas Paine “American
Crisis” read to the troops.
*Battle of Trenton. On December 26,
Washington launched a surprise attack
against a British fortification at Trenton,
New Jersey, that was staffed by Hessian
soldiers. After one hour of confused
fighting, the Hessians surrendered. Only
five American soldiers were killed.
1777 *Battle of Princeton. British General Howe reacted to
the Battle of Trenton by sending a large force of men to New
Jersey. At Princeton, Washington once again launched a
surprise attack, and succeeded in defeating the British. He
cleared most of New Jersey of enemy forces and greatly
boosted American morale.
*America Has a Flag. On June 14, Congress declared that
the flag of the United States would consist of thirteen
alternating red and white stripes, and a blue field with thirteen
white stars.
*The British take Philadelphia Sept. ’77. Brits & Amer. met
at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania. The Americans retreated,
and the British soon occupied Philadelphia, forcing Congress
once again to flee the city.
*Saratoga. October, British General John Burgoyne’s
troops were repulsed by American forces under General
Horatio Gates. October 17th nearly 6000 British & Hessian
troops surrender at Saratoga, New York after horrendous
march of Burgoyne’s army and entourage through untamed
wilderness between Lake Champlain and Hudson River and
opposition from the colonists along his route. This turning
point in the American War for Independence was the
deciding factor in bringing active French support to the
American cause.
1777, cont . . .
* Nov. Congress adopts Articles
of Confederation as new government of the United States, pending
ratification by the states –
not ratified until 1781
* The “Conway Cabal.” ‘77-’78 –
Many in Congress were unhappy
with Washington’s leadership &
offer General Horatio Gates as a
replacement. Thomas Conway,
army’s inspector general, wrote a
critical letter to Gates about Washington, leading many to believe there was an organized effort to replace Washington. Conway
resigned from the army, and eventually apologized to Washington.
• December – Washington settled his army for ‘77-’78 winter in Valley Forge – a winter of
extreme cold and great hunger. Arrival of Baron von Steuben (Feb. 1778) to train the army
and build morale.
*France and America Become Allies and formed an alliance, negotiated by Benjamin Franklin, stating
that each would consider the other a “most favored nation” for trade and friendship; France would fight for
American independence; and America would be obligated to stand by France if war should occur
between France and Great Britain. Within four months, France and Great Britain were at war.
*The British Attempt to Make Peace. Threatened by the alliance between France and America,
Parliament proposed the repeal of the Tea Act (1773) and Coercive Acts (1774), pledged not to tax the
colonies, and sent peace commissioners to America. BUT British would not recognize independence.
British commissioner tried to bribe congressmen Joseph Reed, Robert Morris, and Francis Dana – the
British commissioners soon returned to Great Britain, their mission a failure.
*John Paul Jones Wins Naval Victories. Although Esek Hopkins was never very successful with the
American navy, Captain John Paul Jones won several victories against the British with his ship, the
*The Battle of Monmouth, June 18. When the British headed for New York, Washington left Valley
Forge to follow. At the Battle of Monmouth, American General Charles Lee gave several confused orders,
and then ordered a sudden retreat. Washington’s arrival on the scene saved the battle, although the British
escaped to New York during the night. Lee was later court-martialed.
*The British Attack in North and South. Fighting continued in both the northern and southern states.
In the frontier settlements of Pennsylvania, Loyalists and Indians led by Mohawk Joseph Brant attacked
American settlers. The Loyalists were defeated, and Americans destroyed many Native American
villages whose residents were fighting on the side of the British.
*Spain asked Britain for Gibraltar as a reward for joining the war on the British side. When Britain
refused, Spain joined with France in its war against Britain.
*After a brief fight, the British took Charleston, capturing
5,400 men and four American ships in the harbor. It was the worst
American defeat of the war.
*A Mutiny in the Continental Army. When the value of
Continental currency sank to a new low, Congress had problems
supplying the American army. Great shortages of food led to a
short-lived mutiny among some Connecticut soldiers at
Washington’s camp in New Jersey.
*The Treason of Benedict Arnold. American General Benedict
Arnold, frustrated and ambitious, began dealing with British
General Sir Henry Clinton. After he was promised the command at
West Point by General Washington, Arnold told Clinton that he
would give the strategic American fortification to the British. But
when British Major John André, acting as messenger, was
captured, Arnold fled to a British ship, revealing his involvement in the treasonous plan. André was
executed as a spy, and Arnold was made a brigadier general in the British army.
*Congress Creates a Dept. of Finance. Robert Morris was appointed superintendent of finance.
* The Articles of Confederation Are Ratified, Congress assumed a new title, “The United States in
Congress Assembled.”
*French and American forces joined at Yorktown, on land and at sea, and successfully took British
fortifications. British General Cornwallis soon surrendered, giving up almost 8,000 men. With this
defeat, Britain lost hope of winning the war in America.
*Peace Negotiations Begin in Paris. British, French, and American commissioners met in Paris to discuss
peace. The United States sent Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay. By November, the
commissioners had drafted a peace treaty. Its terms called for Great Britain to recognize American
independence and provide for the evacuation of all British troops. Great Britain also gave up its territory
between the Mississippi River and the Allegheny Mountains, doubling the size of the new nation.
*The Army Complains. When a delegation of army officers complained to Congress about their unpaid
salaries and pensions, Congress had no quick solution. An anonymous letter urged officers to unite and
attempt one last appeal to Congress. If its attempt was ignored, the army was prepared to revolt against
Congress. Washington, addressing the army in person at its headquarters in Newburgh, New York, convinced
them to be patient, and not to dishonor themselves after their glorious victory. Visibly moved, the officers
adopted resolutions to present to Congress, and pledged not to threaten violence or rebellion.
*Congress Ratifies the Preliminary Articles of Peace. After Spain, France, and Britain successfully came to
terms, the treaty between France, Britain, and America was put into effect, and warfare formally ceased.
Congress ratified the Articles of Peace on April 15.
*The Loyalists and British Evacuate New York. New York City was the last Loyalist refuge in America.
Starting in April, nearly 30,000 Loyalists, knowing that the British soon would leave New York, packed their
belongings and sailed to Canada and England, followed shortly by the British army. In November, when the
British sailed away, Washington entered the city and formally bade farewell to his officers. Soon after, he
resigned his commission.
*The American Army Disbands. In June, most of Washington’s army disbanded and headed for home just
before the British evacuated New York. A small force remained until all the British had departed.
*Congress Is Threatened. A group of soldiers from Pennsylvania marched on Congress, demanding their
pay. Armed and angry, they surrounded Independence Hall. The members of Congress eventually were
allowed to leave the building; they fled to Princeton, New Jersey.
*The Western Territories. Thomas Jefferson headed a committee that proposed a plan for dividing the
western territories, providing a temporary government for the West, and devising a method for new
western states to enter the Union on an equal basis with the original states. The plan was adopted, but not
put into effect.
*Congress Creates a Board of Finance. When Robert Morris resigned as superintendent of finance, he was
replaced by a Board of Finance consisting of three commissioners.
*New York the Temporary Capital. Congress decided to make New York City the temporary capital of the
United States, until the location of a permanent federal city was decided upon.
*Congress Lacks Power over Commerce. When American commissioners attempted to make trade
arrangements with Britain, the British Ambassador refused, because any state could decline to abide by
Congress’s trade regulations. The inability of Congress to regulate commerce on a national scale led to the
formation of a committee dedicated to appealing to the states for a new Constitutional Convention.
Continental Congress convenes in New York City.
* Shay’s Rebellion in Springfield, Mass. Armed insurrection by farmers in against the state government.
Debt-ridden farmers, struck by the economic depression that followed the American Revolution, petitioned
the state senate to issue paper money and to halt foreclosure of mortgages on their property and their own
imprisonment for debt as a result of high land taxes. The rebellion influenced Massachusetts’s ratification of
the U.S. Constitution.
*Constitutional convention opens at Philadelphia, George Washington presiding . Congress establishes
Northwest Territory (excludes slavery). In September, U.S. constitution adopted by Philadelphia convention
and sent to states for ratification. “Federalist Papers” published, calls for ratification of Constitution.
* US Constitution is ratified and becomes basis for government of United States of America
Answer the following PROMPT in a 300-word minimum essay, 100 words minimum for each of the 3 questions
posed, NAMING, QUOTING AND CITING each of the three assigned sources for this assignment: your (1)
textbook, (2) the Doc Film, and (3) a PowerPoint Lecture(s) OR an In-Class Lecture at least once each. Do not
answer in bullet points or in a numbered list, but write at least 3 full paragraphs total in response to the
questions posed – remember, at least 100 words minimum for each paragraph answering a prompt question. At
the end of your essay, YOU MUST post a study question of your own for your fellow students to consider and
answer in their response posts. Post your initial response to all questions of my prompt in essay form before
SATURDAY 3/5, 11:59 pm AND your responses, each a minimum of 100 words minimum to two different
students’ study questions, before SUNDAY 3/6, 11:59 pm.
1. Explain the meaning that this term “LIBERTY” had to all different peoples of this time: the British, the
Aristocracy of Colonial Society, northern merchants, southern planters, black slaves, poor whites, etc. Who
achieved actual Liberty at the time? Who eventually achieved it later? How and why?
2. What led loyal British colonists to become Revolutionaries seeking independence from England? Who were
the voices of the Revolution and what were their messages?
3. Describe the conclusion of the War for Independence. Who were the players involved and what role did they
play? How did the accomplishment of American Independence influence the world?
*** | recommend you write your essay FIRST on a word processing program and either copy and paste it into the
submission window OR upload your saved file instead. Either option is okay with me.
Disc Board Sample Student Posts At
Sample Discussion Board Posts
For Sample Purposes only
NOTE the execution of the following components:
QUOTING and CITING of all assigned and required sources stated in the assignment instructions to support
your answers
• Study question at the end of the essay
All 3 questions of the prompt are answered in essay form of 100 words minimum each
• Response to student study questions 100 words each of substantive content to their question – no “fluff
Prompt – [for sample purposes only
– do not duplicate)
After reading through my assigned PowerPoint Lecture on “Reconstruction,” reading the textbook”s chapter
14 on Reconstruction, and viewing both parts of the documentary film on “Reconstruction – The Second Civil
War,” Create a new thread and answer the following questions based on the information in these three sources
in essay form, 100 words minimum response on each question. Complete your essay response with a Study
Question of your own for your classmates to answer:
1. How was Reconstruction a 2nd Civil War?
2. Describe Andrew Johnson’s actions during Reconstruction that angered the Radical Republicans.
3. How did Congressional Reconstruction, 1867-1877, overcome and nullify Johnston’s ineffective
Reconstruction ambitions?
Sample Student Primary Post – Response to Prompt Questions in Essay Form
Reconstruction was a 2nd Civil War because people were still in a constant state of fear and confusion over the status of basic rights.
The documentary film “Reconstruction” depicted how there were many discrepancies over the definitions of citizenship and freedom.
Historian Eric Foner remarks in the film that “there were a lot of people in 1865 who were trying to tell blacks what freedom is, and
tell them what they ought to be doing” (Film: “Reconstruction”). Even though the war had ended, which was initially a fight over
slavery, there was still a lot of tension between the North and the South which added to ambiguities in understanding new laws. Also,
the Emancipation Proclamation followed by the 13th Amendment, which according to our textbook, A People and a Nation by
Kamensky, first freed just the slaves in the Confederacy, “all persons held as slaves in areas in rebellion” (Kamensky, 392) and then
eventually “involuntary servitude everywhere in the United States” (Kamensky, 414), but not everyone was sure on how to proceed
with the laws regarding freedmen- could state laws supersede federal laws? People were concerned with the confiscation of their
land while some still were eager to regain control over black labor. All of these factors contributed to the ongoing battle which can be
represented as a 2nd Civil War. (222 words)
Radical Republicans, led by Thaddeus Stevens, focused on the rights of African Americans. Historian David Blight states in the film
that “to Thaddeus Stevens, Reconstruction meant not only safeguarding and preserving the essential results of the Civil War but in his
vision, it meant remaking the South. It meant the increase of democracy in terms of representation. It meant the spread of the right of
suffrage” (Film: “Reconstruction”). On the other hand, Johnson’s aim was to unite the white North and the white South without room
for the black community. The film effectively depicted how he thought that African Americans should accept their inferior position in
society and return to their previous work. This contempt for the freedmen infuriated many people. Johnson wanted little changes to
the Constitution, but the Radical Republicans desired many changes. These differences in ideology and the proposal of Johnson’s
reconstruction plan angered the Radical Republicans. One specific action that Andrew Johnson did was pardon 15,000 to 20,000
planters. Johnson did this so the planters could get their land back and kick off whoever had currently lived on the land. One assistant
commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Georgia was refusing to give the planters their land back so Johnson fired him. This meant
the freedmen basically had to return to their work on the fields and sign contracts. In a roundabout way, black people were placed
back into times before slavery was abolished. Johnson’s presidential reconstruction also insinuated that the government will not help
or protect any of the freedmen. This led to tension and fight for rights that the Radical Republicans emphatically desired. (271 words)
The Power Point lecture on Reconstruction by Dr. Harris discussed Congressional Reconstruction from 1867-1877 and how it was
able to overcome and nullify Johnson’s ineffective Reconstruction ambitions passing the Radical’s Reconstruction plan. In March of
1867, both houses of Congress rejected a veto by President Johnson and in turn passed the Radical’s Reconstruction plan. This
caused the former confederate states to be broken up into 5 military districts, each with their own leaders and enforcement of the
laws. Dr. Harris summarized that state “conventions were called to write new constitutions with provisions for ratification of the 14th
amendment” and passing black suffrage, which resulted in “all states reorganized and admitted to Congress by 1870” (PPT
“Reconstruction, slide #29). These states all had to ratify the fourteenth amendment, have their state constitution approved, and
allow black men to have the right to vote. These requirements opposed everything Andrew Johnson proposed in his reconstruction
plans and started to progress with laws that focused on African American rights. (164 words)
Study Question – Why do you think Andrew Johnson’s Plan for Reconstruction failed?

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