- Explain how the colonists had gradually
developed very strong ideas of rights and liberty
that differed considerably from the meaning of those terms within the context
of the eighteenth-century British Empire. Show how, as a result, actions that
the British considered moderate and reasonable were seen by the colonists
as evidence of a vast conspiracy by a corrupt aristocracy to deprive them
of their basic freedoms.
REFERENCE: Bernard Bailyn,
Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967).
- Examine the crucial issues in the conflict,
perhaps focusing on the colonial cry of No taxation without representation.
Point out that this slogan actually revealed how strong a sense of self-government
the colonists had already developed, since they did not really want representation
in the British Parliament (even had it been offered). The same goes for the
tricky distinction between internal and external
REFERENCE: Robert Middlekauff, The
Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763 - 1789 (1982).
- Explain more fully how patriotic groups
like the Sons and Daughters of Liberty used boycotts, agitation, propaganda,
and sometimes violence or near-violence to keep the Revolutionary movement
alive, even in periods of seemingly improved relations. The focus might be
on the constant spiral of action and reaction that gradually moved the conflict
from an ideological and political debate to open violence and warfare.
REFERENCES: Pauline Maier, From
Resistance to Revolution (1972); Edward Countryman, The
American Revolution (1987).
- Develop an appreciation of the relative
strengths and weaknesses of the two sides by focusing on their typical military
representatives: the British redcoats and the American minutemen (militia).
Point out how the professional British army came to be seen as a hostile occupying
force (for example, in the Boston Massacre), while the strong American preference
for the citizen-soldier militia reflected a love of liberty
and dislike of powerful authority.
REFERENCES: Robert Gross, The
Minutemen and Their World (1976); John Sly, Toward
Lexington: The Role of the British Army in the Coming of the American Revolution (1965).