Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution (The American Social Experience)
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The couple had five sons. In fact, Warren herself would maintain a lifelong, though at times tumultuous, friendship with John Adams, which included extensive letters on the nature of the new republic. An avid patriot, Warren began writing political dramas that denounced British policies and key officials in Massachusetts, notably Governor Thomas Hutchinson. Warren also published two additional plays skewering British colonial leaders, Defeat and The Group She supported the Boston Tea Party and boycotts of British imports and urged other women to follow suit.
From the outset of the American Revolution, Warren began writing its history, which was published in as History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. This was among the first nonfiction book published by a woman in America, and she was the third woman after Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley to publish a book of poems.
Warren, who embraced the natural rights philosophy that undergirded the Patriot cause, was hopeful that it would lead to egalitarian and democratic policies in the new republic and beyond. Warren lived to age eighty-six. She remained vital even in her final years, continuing to write and correspond with political friends. MLA - Michals, Debra.
National Women's History Museum, Date accessed. Chicago - Michals, Debra. Dubois, Ellen Carol and Lynn Dumenil. Martins, Boucher, an Anglican clergyman and close friend of George Washington despite his loyalism, took greater issue with the actions and claims of American radicals. Peter Oliver, a former chief justice of Massachusetts who fled Boston in , published a history called Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion Oliver, who was subject to threats and intimidation, was also strongly critical of Bostonian radicals. Perhaps the best-known Loyalist history of the revolution was authored by Thomas Hutchinson.
For most of the s, serious historians presented the American Revolution as an epic story of idealism, nationalism and progress. This grand narrative portrayed the revolution as a struggle between the forces of liberty and modernity America and the regressive, corrupt and morally bankrupt Old World Britain. This perspective was, needless to say, one-sided. These early histories belonged firmly to the Whig school. Whig historians imagined history in general, and the American Revolution in particular, as a journey of progress and advancement.
Human society was improving and progressing toward a state of political and social fulfilment, the Whigs argued, and the United States was at the forefront of this progress. These histories maintained the Whig view that the revolution was a profound event in human history. They supported this position with more rigorous uses of evidence and analysis. These late 19th century historians portrayed the revolution as a worthy cause that was guided by benevolent and wise leaders. That these achievements were won with minimal bloodshed or destruction was a testimony to the American people and their desire for freedom and progress.
Whig perspectives of the American Revolution were challenged in the early 20th century. A new breed of historians, loosely referred to as the Progressives, began to ask whether the revolution was driven by economic factors and self-interest, rather than progress, patriotism and benevolence. These merchants, Schlesinger claimed, were keen to increase their profits by shedding British trade regulations and gaining entry to British-dominated markets. Jensen argued that the economic slump of the s was an understandable byproduct of war, not of intrinsic weaknesses in the Articles.
The Federalist attack on the Articles, Jensen contended, was driven by their personal desire for stronger controls over trade and finance. Progressive historians were prominent in the first three decades of the s and their perspectives changed how many viewed the American Revolution. The Whig belief in a national consensus, a revolution free of divisions and disagreements, was largely abandoned. Colonial attitudes to Britain and the revolution became more complex and divided than previously assumed.
Colonial and revolutionary American society was no longer seen as calm, idyllic or homogenous. The Imperial school, as this group became known, placed the revolution in the context of the British Empire. Imperialist historians did not consider British mercantilism and the Navigation Acts as particularly oppressive or restrictive; if they were the American colonies could not have flourished as they had before The appointment of Tory ministries, who were obsessed with imperial management but too inexperienced to understand its complexities, was pivotal.
Confronted with pressing economic problems at home, these conservative ministers responded by adopting poorly considered imperial policies. They did not understand the political ramifications of these policies, which triggered a shift in Anglo-American relations. But in New York, a door-to-door poll of the population revealed that the majority wanted to end nonimportation. In April , Parliament passed two acts to aid the failing East India Company, which had fallen behind in the annual payments it owed Britain.
But the company was not only drowning in debt; it was also drowning in tea, with almost fifteen million pounds of it in stored in warehouses from India to England. In , Parliament passed the Regulating Act, which effectively put the troubled company under government control. It then passed the Tea Act, which would allow the company to sell its tea in the colonies directly and without the usual import duties.
This would greatly lower the cost of tea for colonists, but, again, they resisted. But like the Sugar Act, the Tea Act affected only a small, specific group of people. The widespread support for resisting the Tea Act had more to do with principles. The Tea Act stipulated that the duty had to be paid when the ship unloaded. This worked and the tea did not reach the shore, but by December 16, the ships were still there. Hence, another town meeting was held at the Old South Meeting House, at the end of which dozens of men disguised as Mohawk Indians made their way to the wharf.
The Boston Gazette reported what happened next:. But, behold what followed! As word spread throughout the colonies, patriots were emboldened to do the same to the tea sitting in their harbors. Popular protest spread across the continent and down through all levels of colonial society.
Thomas Hutchinson - HISTORY
Women across the thirteen colonies could most readily express their political sentiments as consumers and producers. Because women often made decisions regarding household purchases, their participation in consumer boycotts held particular weight. The agitation of so many helped elicit responses from both Britain and the colonial elites.
The following spring, Parliament passed four acts known collectively, by the British, as the Coercive Acts. Colonists, however, referred to them as the Intolerable Acts. First, the Boston Port Act shut down the harbor and cut off all trade to and from the city. The Massachusetts Government Act put the colonial government entirely under British control, dissolving the assembly and restricting town meetings.
The Administration of Justice Act allowed any royal official accused of a crime to be tried in Britain rather than by Massachusetts courts and juries. Boston had been deemed in open rebellion, and the king, his advisors, and Parliament acted decisively to end the rebellion. The Crown, however, did not anticipate the other colonies coming to the aid of Massachusetts. Colonists collected food to send to Boston. Rather than isolating Massachusetts, the Coercive Acts fostered the sense of shared identity created over the previous decade.
In Massachusetts, patriots created the Provincial Congress, and, throughout , they seized control of local and county governments and courts. Committees of Correspondence agreed to send delegates to a Continental Congress to coordinate an intercolonial response. The First Continental Congress convened on September 5, It sought to unite and direct twelve revolutionary governments, establish economic and moral policies, and empower common colonists by giving them an important and unprecedented degree of on-the-ground political power.
But not all colonists were patriots.
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Indeed, many remained faithful to the king and Parliament, while a good number took a neutral stance. As the situation intensified throughout and early , factions emerged within the resistance movements in many colonies.
Elite merchants who traded primarily with Britain, Anglican clergy, and colonists holding royal offices depended on and received privileges directly from their relationship with Britain. Initially, they sought to exert a moderating influence on the resistance committees, but, following the Association, a number of these colonists began to worry that the resistance was too radical and aimed at independence.
They, like most colonists in this period, still expected a peaceful conciliation with Britain and grew increasingly suspicious of the resistance movement. However, by the time the Continental Congress met again in May , war had already broken out in Massachusetts. The town militia met them at the Lexington Green.
The British ordered the militia to disperse when someone fired, setting off a volley from the British. The battle continued all the way to the next town, Concord. News of the events at Lexington spread rapidly throughout the countryside. Militia members, known as minutemen, responded quickly and inflicted significant casualties on the British regiments as they chased them back to Boston. Approximately twenty thousand colonial militiamen laid siege to Boston, effectively trapping the British. While men in Boston fought and died, the Continental Congress struggled to organize a response.
The radical Massachusetts delegates—including John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock—implored the Congress to support the Massachusetts militia, who without supplies were laying siege to Boston. Meanwhile, many delegates from the Middle Colonies—including New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia—took a more moderate position, calling for renewed attempts at reconciliation.
The moderates worried that supporting the Massachusetts militia would be akin to declaring war. The Congress struck a compromise, agreeing to adopt the Massachusetts militia and form a Continental Army, naming Virginia delegate George Washington commander in chief. In the opening months of , independence, for the first time, became part of the popular debate. Town meetings throughout the colonies approved resolutions in support of independence. Yet, with moderates still hanging on, it would take another seven months before the Continental Congress officially passed the independence resolution.
A small forty-six-page pamphlet published in Philadelphia and written by a recent immigrant from England captured the American conversation. Arguments over political philosophy and rumors of battlefield developments filled taverns throughout the colonies. George Washington had taken control of the army and after laying siege to Boston forced the British to retreat to Halifax. Former slaves occasionally fought, but primarily served in companies called Black Pioneers as laborers, skilled workers, and spies.
British motives for offering freedom were practical rather than humanitarian, but the proclamation was the first mass emancipation of enslaved people in American history. Slaves could now choose to run and risk their lives for possible freedom with the British army or hope that the United States would live up to its ideals of liberty.
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Four years earlier, English courts dealt a serious blow to slavery in the empire. In Somerset v Stewart , James Somerset sued for his freedom, and the court not only granted it but also undercut the very legality of slavery on the British mainland.
Somerset and now Dunmore began to convince some slave owners that a new independent nation might offer a surer protection for slavery. Indeed, the proclamation laid the groundwork for the very unrest that loyal southerners had hoped to avoid. Consequently, slaveholders often used violence to prevent their slaves from joining the British or rising against them.
Virginia enacted regulations to prevent slave defection, threatening to ship rebellious slaves to the West Indies or execute them. Many masters transported their enslaved people inland, away from the coastal temptation to join the British armies, sometimes separating families in the process. On May 10, , nearly two months before the Declaration of Independence, the Congress voted on a resolution calling on all colonies that had not already established revolutionary governments to do so and to wrest control from royal officials. A few weeks later, on June 7, Richard Henry Lee offered the following resolution:.
Resolved, 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 connexion between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. Delegates went scurrying back to their assemblies for new instructions and nearly a month later, on July 2, the resolution finally came to a vote.
It passed 12—0, with New York, under imminent threat of British invasion, abstaining. Virginian Thomas Jefferson drafted the document, with edits being made by his fellow committee members John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and then again by the Congress as a whole. 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 new Government. The majority of the document outlined a list of specific grievances that the colonists had with British attempts to reform imperial administration during the s and s.
An early draft blamed the British for the transatlantic slave trade and even for discouraging attempts by the colonists to promote abolition. Delegates from South Carolina and Georgia as well as those from northern states who profited from the trade all opposed this language, and it was removed.
Neither the grievances nor the rhetoric of the preamble were new. The Congress approved the document on July 4, However, it was one thing to declare independence; it was quite another to win it on the battlefield. The war began at Lexington and Concord, more than a year before Congress declared independence.
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In , the British believed that the mere threat of war and a few minor incursions to seize supplies would be enough to cow the colonial rebellion. Those minor incursions, however, turned into a full-out military conflict. In the summer of , the British forces that had abandoned Boston arrived at New York. The largest expeditionary force in British history, including tens of thousands of German mercenaries known as Hessians, followed soon after. New York was the perfect location to launch expeditions aimed at seizing control of the Hudson River and isolating New England from the rest of the continent.
Also, New York contained many loyalists, particularly among its merchant and Anglican communities. In October, the British finally launched an attack on Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Continental Army took severe losses before retreating through New Jersey. Therefore, he launched a successful surprise attack on the Hessian camp at Trenton on Christmas Day by ferrying the few thousand men he had left across the Delaware River under the cover of night.
The victory won the Continental Army much-needed supplies and a morale boost following the disaster at New York. An even greater success followed in upstate New York. Benjamin Franklin had been in Paris trying to secure a treaty of alliance with the French. However, the French were reluctant to back what seemed like an unlikely cause. News of the victory at Saratoga convinced the French that the cause might not have been as unlikely as they had thought. A Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed on February 6, The treaty effectively turned a colonial rebellion into a global war as fighting between the British and French soon broke out in Europe and India.
In this cartoon, the British lion faces a spaniel Spain , a rooster France , a rattlesnake America , and a pug dog Netherlands. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Howe had taken Philadelphia in but returned to New York once winter ended. He slowly realized that European military tactics would not work in North America. In Europe, armies fought head-on battles in attempt to seize major cities. However, in , the British had held Philadelphia and New York and yet still weakened their position. Meanwhile, Washington realized after New York that the largely untrained Continental Army could not win head-on battles with the professional British army.
So he developed his own logic of warfare that involved smaller, more frequent skirmishes and avoided major engagements that would risk his entire army.
As long as he kept the army intact, the war would continue, no matter how many cities the British captured. In , the British shifted their attentions to the South, where they believed they enjoyed more popular support. Campaigns from Virginia to South Carolina and Georgia captured major cities, but the British simply did not have the manpower to retain military control.
And upon their departures, severe fighting ensued between local patriots and loyalists, often pitting family members against one another. The war in the South was truly a civil war. By , the British were also fighting France, Spain, and Holland. The Americans took advantage of the British southern strategy with significant aid from the French army and navy. Cornwallis had dug his men in at Yorktown awaiting supplies and reinforcements from New York. The capture of another army left the British without a new strategy and without public support to continue the war.
Peace negotiations took place in France, and the war came to an official end on September 3, John Trumbull, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, Americans celebrated their victory, but it came at great cost. Soldiers suffered through brutal winters with inadequate resources. During the single winter at Valley Forge in —, over 2, Americans died from disease and exposure.
Life was not easy on the home front either.