HIST 10 – The era of the colonial resistance movement leading to the American Revolution

Spring 2016History 10Writing Assignment #2Write a 2-3 page essay in response to the following prompt. Your paper should be typewrittenand double-spaced. Papers are due on Thursday, March 31. No late papers accepted.Essay prompt: The following four documents were all written in the era of the colonial resistancemovement leading to the American Revolution. What do these four documents tell us about howthe focus, goals, and/or arguments of the resistance movement changed during eleven yearsbetween the Stamp Act and the Declaration of Independence?[Keep in mind the following: your essay must use all four documents. Think about what eachwriter might see as the main issue or goal of the resistance movement. Where would they agreeand where would they disagree? How does the tone and language of the resistance movementchange among these documents? Remember that this essay is not a summary of what thedocuments say, nor is it an overview of the events that lead to the American Revolution, butrather the essay should focus on the issue raised by the prompt.]Document #1: Benjamin Franklin is Questioned Before the British Parliament, 1765Question: What was the temper of America towards Great-Britain before the year 1763?Franklin: The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the Crown, andpaid, in all their courts, obedience to the acts of parliament. Numerous as the people are in theseveral old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons or armies, to keep themin subjection. They were governed by this country at the expence only of a little pen, ink andpaper. They were led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection, for GreatBritain, for its laws, its customs and manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatlyincreased the commerce. Natives of Britain were always treated with particular regard; to be anOld Englandman was, of itself, a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us.Q.: And what is their temper now [since passage of the Stamp Act]?Franklin: O, very much altered.Document #2: John Dickinson, Letters of a Farmer in Pennsylvania, (1767)”All artful rulers who strive to extend their power . . . endeavor to give to their attemptsas much semblance of legality as possible. Those who succeed then may . . . go a little further,for each new encroachment will be strengthened by a former. . . . A free people therefore cannever be too quick in observing, nor too firm in opposing the beginnings of alteration. . . .”“Some persons may imagine the sums to be raised by [the Townshend Duties] are butsmall, and therefore may be inclined to acquiesce under it. A conduct more dangerous tofreedom . . . [could] never be adopted. Nothing is wanted at home but a PRECEDENT, the forceof which shall be established, by the tacit submission of the colonies. . . If the parliamentsucceeds in this attempt, other statutes will impose other duties. Instead of taxing ourselves, aswe have been accustomed to do, from the first settlement of these provinces, all our usual taxeswill be converted into parliamentary taxes . . .”Document #3: Massachusetts Slaves Argue for Freedom in a petition to the MassachusettsProvincial Assembly, 1773Boston, April 20th, 1773Sir, The efforts made by the legislature of this province in their last sessions to free themselvesfrom slavery, gave us, who are in that deplorable state, a high degree of satisfaction. We expectgreat things from men who have made such a noble stand against the designs of their fellow-mento enslave them. We cannot but wish and hope Sir, that you will have the same grand object, wemean civil and religious liberty, in view in your next session. The divine spirit of freedom,seems to fire every humane breast on this continent . . . [and] we cannot but expect your housewill again take our deplorable case into serious consideration, and give us that ample reliefwhich, as men, we have a natural right to.Document #4: Thomas Paine argues for independence in Common Sense, 1776I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former connectionwith Great Britain, that the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and willalways have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. . . . Ianswer roundly that America would have flourished as much, and probably more, had noEuropean power had any thing to do with her. . . . Alas, we have long been led away by ancientprejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted of the protection of GreatBritain, without considering, that her motive was interest not attachment. . . . I challenge thewarmest advocate for reconciliation, to shew, a single advantage that this continent can reap, bybeing connected with Great Britain.The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a city, a county, aprovince, or a kingdom, but of a continent—of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe.‘Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, andwill be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honour . . .Should an independency be brought about . . . we have every opportunity and everyencouragement before us to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth. Wehave it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath nothappened since the days of Noah until now. The birth-day of a new world is at hand . . .

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