US-VA SOL Review Materials – The American Revolution American Political Philosophy John Locke was the most influential political philosopher of the period of the American Revolution. He believed in the idea that people had created a “social contract” with their governments. The governments duty was to protect the natural rights of it’s people. In return, the people gave their consent to be governed. John Locke’s Philosophy Influenced Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence Locke argued that the government could not infringe upon inalienable rights to life, liberty, and their own property. * 2. He said that the people who are governed have consented to a “social contract” with the government – each party has responsibilities. * 3. He argues that the consent of the governed must be given by the people.* 4. And he stated that when the government violates the rights of the people, the people have the right to alter or abolish the government.* 1. * Jefferson included all of these point in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense Encouraged Americans to Declare Independence. In his pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine used enlightenment thought in order to argue that Americans must declare independence from the English. He argued that it was absurd for an island to rule over a continent. He also advised that just as every son leaves his mother’s home eventually, the time had come for Americans to leave the orbit of Mother England. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be selfevident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence, by Thomas Jefferson “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Declaration of Independence, by Thomas Jefferson “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government…” The Declaration of Independence Over the course of time, the Declaration of Independence’s words gained greater meaning. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King challenged Americans to “live out the true meaning of our creed: that all men are created equal.” In this speech, he challenged Americans to end voting barriers, allow due process of law, and grant access to free public education to all students – black or white. In his “I Have a Dream” Speech, MLK challenged Americans to live out the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal.” The Declaration of Independence In 1848, the women of the Seneca Falls Convention adopted the Declaration of Sentiments, which included the line “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” Just as members of the Woman’s Movement used the words of the Declaration of Independence to petition for greater rights, abolitionist societies demanded an end to slavery based on Jefferson’s words. As both an abolitionist and a member of the woman’s movement, Frederick Douglas demanded freedom based on the Declaration of Independence. He once bitterly asked, “What does the Fourth of July mean to the Negro?” The Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence has also been frequently invoked by people who sought to regulate the American system of free enterprise in order to promote equal economic opportunity and to protect private property rights. Racial discrimination in hiring practices was ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The American Revolution, according to the Virginia Standards of Learning… EVENTS OF THE PERIOD OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1763 - 1783 The French and Indian War, 1754 - 1763 France and England competed for land in North America, usually in the Ohio River Valley, west of the Appalachian Mountains. In the French and Indian War the French and their Indian allies fought against the English and their American colonists. The French lost! And, the English took all of their land; however, in order to do this it took seven years of fighting and left the English bankrupt. Tax policies started by the British in order to raise revenue led to the Revolutionary War. The English spent a lot of money in order to defeat the French and their Indian allies – and to protect American colonists. After the war, they wanted to collect tax revenue from American colonists in order to re-coop their loses. American colonists did not find this reasonable! The Proclamation of 1763 King George III forbid American colonists to move anywhere west of the Appalachian Mountains with his Proclamation of 1763. All of the land Americans had helped to wrest away from the French was now completely off limits to them! Americans were outraged, and many ignored the Proclamation. The Stamp Act of 1765 Starting in 1765 with the Stamp Act, the Parliament began to pass a series of taxes intended to raise revenue from their American colonists. Americans resisted ferociously, rejecting the principle of “Taxation Without Representation!” Tax collectors were threatened, boycotts were organized, and nonimportation treaties were enforced by groups like the Sons of Liberty! The tax collector’s was a difficult job, particularly around the Sons of Liberty! Taxation Without Representation The Sugar Act of 1764 The Stamp Act of 1765 The Townshend Acts The Tea Act of 1773 The Intolerable Acts Parliament didn’t give up easily, but Americans steadfastly refused to pay any taxes to a Parliament in which they had no representation. Events in Colonial Boston The Boston Massacre: In 1770, a group of English soldiers who had been pelted by rocks and oyster shells on a snowy day in early March shot into an angry mob of Americans in downtown Boston. Paul Revere’s depiction of the events on that day were a bit biased, as were newspaper accounts of what would go on to be known as the “Boston Massacre.” Five Americans died that day, including Crispus Attucks. The Boston Tea Party Americans protested the Tea Act of 1773 by refusing to allow the ship’s cargo to be unloaded at Boston Harbor. Angered that a small tax on tea had been included by the act – which had actually lowered the cost of tea – American patriots like the Sons of Liberty dressed themselves up as Mohawk Indians and threw over 340 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. Outraged, the British responded with the oppressive Intolerable Acts. The First Continental Congress Including representatives of all the colonies save Georgia, this body passed a number of resolutions condemning the right of the Parliament to tax American colonists. The Congress was borderline treasonous to begin with, and when it passed both the Declaration of Rights and Grievances – protesting “taxation without representation” and the Suffolk Resolves – which encouraged Americans to take up arms to defend themselves, it began to encourage the Revolutionary War. The Shot Heard ‘Round the World was fired at the Battle of Lexington and Concord immediately followed. The American Revolution thus began in April of 1775. Patriots, Loyalists, and Neutrals During the American Revolution, not everyone supported the Patriot cause. 1. About one-third of Americans were pro-Independence Patriots and supported the Continental Army. John Locke’s ideas had inspired men like Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and George Washington. 2. About one-third of Americans were Loyalists, or Tories, who supported England and felt that taxes were pretty much reasonable to protect the colonies. 3. About one-third of Americans were neutral, and just hoped to survive the war without losing their lives or their property! The Redcoats soon discovered, however, that they had very little popular support in the American colonies. Even the Tories were sort of lukewarm supporters at best. George Washington led the Continental Army to Victory… Americans greatest advantage over the British may have been George Washington, who realized from the outset that he need not defeat the English to win the war. He must instead maintain his Continental Army, and prevent its destruction. On more than one occasion, his leadership saved the Continental Army. The Battle of Trenton, for example, or the manner in which he led his men to survive the brutal winter at Valley Forge. The Treaty of Alliance 1778 In 1777, General Horatio Gates won a great victory over General John Burgoyne’s men at Saratoga, in New York. The battle in itself, however, was less important than the treaty which it made possible. After the victory at Saratoga, the French were convinced (by diplomat Benjamin Franklin) that they should support Americans in the War for Independence. In 1778, the Treaty of Alliance was signed and Americans had a military ally with whom we could fight the British. Spain and Holland also loaned us money! The Battle of Saratoga was a turning point in the Revolutionary War. After the battle, Benjamin Franklin was able to convince the French to support Americans in the Revolutionary War. With French aid, Americans would win the war. The Battle of Yorktown, 1781 At the Battle of Yorktown, the Continental Army sieged General Charles Cornwallis and forced him to surrender. Our French allies helped us very much in this regard. Marquis de Lafayette acted as an aide-decamp for Washington; Rochambeau helped to organize an orderly siege of the enemy lines; and Admiral de Grasse commanded the French fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, preventing the escape of Cornwallis’ soldiers. Victory was ours! George Washington accepted the surrender of Cornwallis after the Battle of Yorktown. Although skirmishing would continue in many areas for years, this effectively ended the war with England. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris would officially end the war.