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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
Suggested Lecture Topics
Chapter 7
Developing The Chapter: Suggested Lecture Or Discussion Topics

  • 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" taxation.

    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).