In the 1760s, Benjamin Rush, a native of Philadelphia, recounted a visit to Parliament. Upon seeing the King’s throne in the House of Lords, Rush said he “felt as if he walked on sacred ground” with “emotions that I cannot describe.”1 Throughout the eighteenth century, colonists had developed significant emotional ties with both the British monarchy and the British constitution. British subjects enjoyed a degree of liberty unknown in the unlimited monarchies of France and Spain. The British North American colonists had just helped to win a world war and most, like Rush, had never been more proud to be British. And yet, in a little over a decade, those same colonists would declare their independence and break away from the British Empire. Seen from 1763, nothing would have seemed as improbable as the American Revolution. Read the rest of Chapter 5 from the American Yawp.
Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter
What problems did the British government face at the conclusion of the French-Indian War in 1763? How would these problems influence how the British dealt with their American colonies after 1763?
American colonists considered themselves loyal British citizens in 1763. In what political and economic ways were the colonies connected to Britain in 1763?
Discuss the Enlightenment and Great Awakening. How did these intellectual and religious movements influence how Americans thought about concepts such as liberty and individualism.
Describe legislation passed by the British parliament between 1765 and 1770 such as the Sugar Act, Currency Act, Declaratory Act and Townshend Acts? What did these acts tax and declare?
Why did many American colonists disagree with British taxes placed on them between 1765 and 1770? What sorts of ways did they express their displeasure with these taxes?
The American colonies were separate colonies that rarely worked together or same themselves as one entity prior to 1765. How did that change? In what ways did the colonies work together between 1765 and 1776 to oppose British policies?
Describe the Boston Tea Party. What was the British reaction to this event? How did the other American colonies react to what the British did?
How did fighting break in Massachusetts during the spring of 1775 between the Massachusetts militia? What events between the spring of 1775 and summer of 1776 pushed the American colonists to finally declare their independence from Britain?
What sorts of people living in the American colonists were either neutral during the American Revolutionary War or were Loyalists who opposed independence from Britain?
Compare and contrast how the American Revolution affected women, Native Americans and African-Americans, both free and enslaved.
What sorts of political changes occurred in the states during the American Revolution? And what sort of national government did the Articles of Confederation create?
The British had the most powerful navy in the world and a highly trained professional army. Britain sent a huge invasion fleet to New York in the summer of 1776 to squash the American independence movement. Yet by 1781, the British had largely lost the war. What factors accounted for this seemingly unlikely turn of affairs?