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Charleston, SC Sons of Liberty
This exercise provides an introduction to a bit of quantitative history and to the slippery concept of social class. Methodologically, the exercise depends on the time-honored strategy of translating occupation into social class. There are certainly problems with this approach, but it is a serviceable shorthand for getting at the heart of the issue. (One of the most obvious problems is the small number contained in the sample.) You might wish to begin with a general discussion and by having students run through the list and categorize each person by putting an appropriate abbreviation before each. There are several ambiguous individual, so some debate about their placement will be instructive. The class can then easily count the number in each category and do a little math. The remainder of the questions work off the table and material contained in the textbooks.
This document stresses the role played by nonelite activists who supported the initiatives of popular party leaders in the years preceding the Revolutionary war.
Questions to Consider
- Count the number of persons on the list who fall into the following classes:
- Merchants and Shopkeepers
- Miscellaneous innkeepers, seamen, etc.
- Teachers and professors
- Anglican clerics
- Other clerics
- What occupations do not appear on the list?
- What makes assigning some individuals to a particular group difficult?
- Make a table in which you note the percentage of the total number in each category. (To obtain the percentage, divide the total number (N=26) into the smaller number.) Would you characterize these men as working- or middle-class people?
- Why would the largest group in your table be more likely to support revolutionary ideology? Charleston was a noted Loyalist stronghold. Who do you think allied themselves with the Loyalist cause? Why?
- Write a paragraph in which you do the following:
- Generalize about the social and economic composition of the Sons of Liberty
- Address the significance of such organizations in the movement toward rebellion
- Discuss briefly the Sons of Liberty's relationship to urban crowds and pre-Revolutionary popular violence
Christopher Gadsden, merchant.
William Johnson, blacksmith.
Joseph Veree, carpenter.
John Fullerton, carpenter.
James Brown, carpenter.
Nath[anie]l Libby, ship carpenter.
George Flagg, painter and glazier.
Tho[ma]s Coleman, upholsterer.
John Hall, coachmaker.
W[illia]m Field, carver.
Robert Jones, sadler.
John Loughton, coachmaker.
"W." Roger, wheelwright.
John Calvert, "Clerk in some office."
H[enry] Bookless, wheelwright.
J. Barlow , sadler.
Tunis Teabout, blacksmith.
Peter Munclean, clerk.
W[illia]m Trusler, butcher.
Robert Howard, carpenter.
Alexander Alexander, schoolmaster.
Ed[ward] Weyman, clerk of St. Philip's Church, and glass grinder.
Tho[ma]s Swarle, painter.
W[illia]m Laughton, tailor.
Daniel Cannon, carpenter.
Benjamin Hawes, painter.
Charleston, South Carolina, Sons of Liberty, 1766 Charleston, S.C., Sons of Liberty Membership List, 1766, Robert W. Gibbes, ed., Documentary History of the American Revolution, South Carolina,
1764-1776 (New York, 1855), pp. 10-11.