"Now commences the era of our quiet enjoyment of those liberties which our fathers purchased with the toil of their whole lives, their treasure, their blood." These words were delivered by an American clergyman to welcome the victorious end of a lengthy war—not the American Revolution in 1781, but the French and Indian War in 1763. Americans cheered the British victory over France as a joint accomplishment that affirmed their security as British citizens with all the rights and privileges therein. But just twelve years later another American clergyman intoned, "We have no choice left to us but to submit to absolute slavery and despotism, or as freemen to stand in our own defense and endeavor a noble resistance."* What happened? What ended the "era of our quiet enjoyment of our liberties"? Why did many Americans turn from loyal British subjects to rebellious Patriots in such a short time? We follow the tumultuous process in this theme, Crisis.
Sections in CRISIS
Each section presents primary resources, introductory notes, classroom discussion questions, and supplemental links.
- 1763: Britain Victorious
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to British victory in the French and Indian War, 1759-1763
- - Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe (1759), oil on canvas, 1770
- 1764: Loyal Subjects?
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Sugar & Currency Acts, 1764
- - A Briton's warning to Britain: Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the Colonies, 1764, selection
- 1765-66: Stamp Act Crisis
- - Parliamentary debate on the Stamp Act, 1765, selections
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Stamp Act, 1765-1766
- - "A Poetical Dream concerning Stamped Papers," poem (anonymous), 1765
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Stamp Act's repeal, 1766
- 1766-69: The Crisis Deepens
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Townshend Acts, 1767-1770
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Quartering Act, 1766-1767
- - John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, Letters 1 & 2, 1767
- - Artists' depictions of the arrival of British troops in Boston, 1768
- 1770: Violence—and Pause
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Boston Massacre and other violent confrontations of 1770
- - Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Samuel Cooper on the easing of British-American tensions, 1770-1771, selections
- 1772-73: Crisis Renewed
- - Boston Committee of Correspondence, the "Boston Pamphlet," 1772, selections
- - Rev. John Allen, An Oration upon the Beauties of Liberty, sermon after the Gaspée incident, 1772, selections
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Tea Act & the Boston Tea Party, 1773-1774
- - David Ramsay, A Sermon on Tea, essay, 1774
- 1774: Colonies United
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the Coercive Acts and the First Continental Congress, 1774
- - First Continental Congress, 1774: Petition to King George III, Bill of Rights; Letters to the American colonists & to the British people, excerpts
- 1775: The Outbreak of War
- - COMPILATION: Colonists respond to the outbreak of war, 1774-1775
- - Sermons on the outbreak of war and the justifiability of revolution, 1775, selections
- - Announcement of the Battle of Lexington & Concord, Virginia, 1775
- - Diary of Matthew Patten, New Hampshire, selections, 1775-1776
- - Second Continental Congress, 1775: Olive Branch Petition; Declaration . . . Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms
- How Did We Get Here?
- - Benjamin Franklin, Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One, satirical essay, 1773
- - Francis Hopkinson, A Pretty Story Written in the Year of Our Lord 2774, allegory, 1774
- - John Adams, letter to Hezekiah Niles, 1818, excerpts on the American Revolution
- Between 1763 and 1775, what changed many Americans from loyal British subjects to rebellious Patriots?
- Why did many Americans remain loyal to Great Britain and oppose rebellion?
- How did Patriots and Loyalists convey their views through the media outlets of the time?
- Was the American Revolution inevitable? If so, was there a "point of no return"?
*1763 sermon: Rev. Thomas Barnard, First Church of Salem, Salem, Massachusetts, 25 May 1763.
1775 sermon: Rev. David Jones, Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless, sermon, Great Valley Baptist Church, Tredyffryn, Pennsylvania, 20 July 1775.
Image: Americans Throwing the Cargoes of the Tea Ships into the River, at Boston, engraving (detail), in W. D. Rev. Mr. Cooper, The History of North America (London: E. Newbery, 1789). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZC4-538 (also Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Digital ID us0012_01). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.