(HRS) Severing the Bonds of Empire, 1754-1774

                                                                               

                                             Boston Massacre                                       Sam Adams



HR Chapter 5 Study Guide

The main topic of Chapter 5 is the emergence of the colonial resistance movement. The authors explain: (l) the interaction of forces that determined how the American colonists and the British perceived each other between 1754 and 1774, and (2) how the actions born of those perceptions created tensions and conflicts that led to the emergence of a widespread and unified colonial resistance movement.

In the first section, Renewed Warfare Among Europeans and Indians, we learn about the causes of the Seven Years War, William Pitt's contributions to the eventual British victory over France, and the provisions of the Peace of Paris of 1763.

The next section, 1763: A Turning Point, presents the consequences of the Seven Years War, especially the devastating impact of the war on the southern and northwestern Indians and Pontiac's desperate attempt to regain a measure of independence for the northwestern Indians. The consequences of the war on the British, on their North American colonies, and on the relationship between the two takes up the rest of the section, and indeed the rest of the chapter. The authors explain the differing frames of reference of the British and the colonists. The British frame of reference was shaped by: (l) Britain's need for additional revenue in the face of financial crisis; and (2) Britain?s definition of representative government, the role of Parliament, and the nature of the relationship between Parliament and the colonies. The colonial frame of reference toward Great Britain was shaped by: (l) a feeling of security stemming from the outcome of the Seven Years War, (2) a wariness of the British based on the influence of the Real Whigs, and (3) colonial theories about representative government. Given this frame of reference, the colonists began to see oppressive designs behind the actions of Grenville and his successors. Out of this colonial perception grew the conspiracy theory considered at the end of the chapter.

Passage of the Sugar and Currency Acts in 1764 and the hesitant protest attending those acts are the topics of the third section, The Stamp Act Crisis. The debate over constitutional issues led to widespread but relatively moderate protest at the ideological level. Involvement of the masses shifted the protest to the emotional level. Soon some internal colonial divisions appeared, caused by the tension between the ordinary folk and the educated elite. Composed of merchants, lawyers, prosperous tradesmen, and the like, the Sons of Liberty attempted to channel the energy of the masses into acceptable forms of resistance.

Repeal of the Stamp Act, passage of the Declaratory Act, passage of the Townshend Acts, and the expansion of the resistance movement are considered in the fourth section, Resistance to the Townshend Acts. John Dickinson's contention that the colonists had the right to determine the intent of Parliament before deciding to obey its laws suggests that the conspiracy theory was gaining ground. British reaction to the Massachusetts Circular Letter further strengthened the perception that the British were conspiring to destroy colonial rights and liberties. The discussion of how the middling sort used public rituals to involve the ordinary in the resistance movement again shows the internal divisions among the colonists.

We then focus on events in Boston that eventually led to the Boston Massacre, an event that exemplified the fears of the most conservative patriots about involving the masses in the resistance movement. News of the repeal of the Townshend duties (except the tea tax), the use of the Massacre as a propaganda tool against the British, the defense of the British soldiers by two leading patriots, and the relative calm from 1770 to 1773 helped alleviate those fears. Yet both the resistance movement and the conspiracy theory continued to grow in these calm years. It was during this time that Samuel Adams used the Boston Committee of Correspondence to widen the geographic scope of the resistance movement. Both the Boston Committee's statement of rights and grievances and the response of interior Massachusetts towns to this document demonstrate the emergence of patriots more committed to American rights than to loyalty to Great Britain.

We then focus on events in Boston that eventually led to the Boston Massacre, an event that exemplified the fears of the most conservative patriots about involving the masses in the resistance movement. News of the repeal of the Townshend duties (except the tea tax), the use of the Massacre as a propaganda tool against the British, the defense of the British soldiers by two leading patriots, and the relative calm from 1770 to 1773 helped alleviate those fears. Yet both the resistance movement and the conspiracy theory continued to grow in these calm years. It was during this time that Samuel Adams used the Boston Committee of Correspondence to widen the geographic scope of the resistance movement. Both the Boston Committee's statement of rights and grievances and the response of interior Massachusetts towns to this document demonstrate the emergence of patriots more committed to American rights than to loyalty to Great Britain.

Such commitment led to definitive action by patriots, who perceived a corrupt, oppressive, tyrannical Great Britain conspiring to destroy colonial rights and liberties through passage of the Tea Act, the Coercive Acts, and the Quebec Act. As stated by the authors, It seemed as though the full dimensions of the plot against American rights and liberties had at last been revealed. The chapter ends with the calling of delegates to the First Continental Congress for the purpose of formulating a united plan of resistance against the British.

Such commitment led to definitive action by patriots, who perceived a corrupt, oppressive, tyrannical Great Britain conspiring to destroy colonial rights and liberties through passage of the Tea Act, the Coercive Acts, and the Quebec Act. As stated by the authors, It seemed as though the full dimensions of the plot against American rights and liberties had at last been revealed. The chapter ends with the calling of delegates to the First Continental Congress for the purpose of formulating a united plan of resistance against the British.

Norton (2008). A People and a Nation: A History of the United States, 8th Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Lecture Outlines

Road to Revolution 1744-1763 notes 

Prologue to Revolution 1763-1775

Road to Revolution 1763-1776 notes


Student Assignments

Declaration of Independence ws

Road to Revolution 1764-1775

BOA #4  The Coming of Independence


Biography of America (series 4)

The Coming of Independence
Professor Maier tells the story of how the English-loving colonist transforms into the freedom-loving American rebel. The luminaries of the early days of the Republic -- Washington, Jefferson, Adams -- are featured in this program as they craft the Declaration of -- and wage the War for -- Independence.


Multimedia Presentations

The French and Indian War

Imperial Reorganization


PowerPoint Presentations

Colonial Society 1700-1750

Toward Revolution and Independence 1750-1783