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American Revolution Document Analysis

Part 1: Identify whether your document is a primary or secondary source.

Explain your reasoning.

Part 2: Read the document you have been given and answer the following

1) Who is speaking/writing in this document? Are they important to the

American Revolution? If so, why?
2) What kind of document is this? (ex. newspaper article, song,
declaration, letter, diary entry etc.)

3) When was this document written?

4) Where was this document written?

5) Why is this document important with regards to the American

Revolution and the question of what was done to prevent war?
Documents to be Examined:

Reconciliation Better than Independence

Reconciliation Better than Independence
Clergyman William Smith writes that the American colonies would do better to seek
reconciliation rather than independence. A last-minute attempt to prevent the impending war,
Smith argues that, in time, the colonies will again enjoy a prosperous and pleasant relationship
with Great Britain.

Anglican clergyman and educator William Smith wrote a series of public letters in 1776 under
the name Cato in reply to Thomas Paines Common Sense.

We have already declared ourselves independent, as to all useful purposes, by resisting our
oppressors upon our own foundation. And while we keep upon this ground, without connecting
ourselves with any foreign nations, to involve us in fresh difficulties and endanger our liberties
still further, we are able, in our own element (upon the shore), to continue this resistance; and it
is our duty to continue it till Great Britain is convinced (as she must soon be) of her fatal policy,
and open her arms to reconciliation, upon the permanent and sure footing of mutual interests and

Upon such a footing, we may again be happy. Our trade will be revived. Our husbandmen, our
mechanics, our artificers will flourish. Our language, our laws, and manners being the same with
those of the nation with which we are again to be connected, that connection will be natural; and
we shall the more easily guard against future innovations. Pennsylvania has much to lose in this
contest and much to hope from a proper settlement of it. We have long flourished under our
charter government. What may be the consequences of another form we cannot pronounce with
certainty; but this we know, that it is a road we have not traveled and may be worse than it is

Source: Teresa ONeill, ser. ed., Opposing Viewpoints: The American Revolution, American
History Series (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1992), p.151.
Dawe, Philip (ca. 1750-1785) The Bostonians Paying the
Excise-man, or Tarring & Feathering
Summary of Content: Engraving attributed to Philip Dawe, with hand-coloring. Shows the Boston Tea
Party in the background, a Liberty Tree with a paper Stamp Act affixed upside-down, with five
unsavory Bostonians forcibly pouring a pot of tea into the mouth of a tarred and feathered tea excise
collector. Printed for Robert Sayer and J. Bennett, October 24, 1774. Dawe was a British mezzotint

Edmund Burke
Speech to Parliament on Reconciliation
with the American Colonies
22 March 1775, selections

The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war, not peace to be hunted
through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations, not peace to arise out of universal
discord. . . It is simple peace, sought in its natural course and in its ordinary haunts. It is peace
sought in the spirit of peace, and laid in principles purely pacific. I propose, by removing the
ground of the difference [between Britain and America] and by restoring the former
unsuspecting confidence of the colonies in the mother country, to give permanent satisfaction to
your people and (far from a scheme of ruling by discord) to reconcile them to each other in
the same act and by the bond of the very same interest which reconciles them to British
. . . . . . .

The first is a resolution: That the colonies and plantations of Great Britain in North America,
consisting of fourteen separate governments, and containing two millions and upwards of free
inhabitants, have not had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any knights and
burgesses, or others, to represent them in the high court of Parliament.

The second is like unto the first: That the said colonies and plantations have been made liable
to, and bounden by, several subsidies, payments, rates, and taxes, given and granted by
Parliament, though the said colonies and plantations have not their knights and burgesses in the
said high court of Parliament, of their own election, to represent the condition of their country; by
lack whereof they have been oftentimes touched and grieved by subsidies, given, granted, and
assented to, in the said court, in a manner prejudicial to the common wealth, quietness, rest,
and peace of the subjects inhabiting within the same.

The next proposition is: That, from the distance of the said colonies, and from other
circumstances, no method hath hitherto been devised for procuring a representation in
Parliament for the said colonies.

The fourth resolution is: That each of the said colonies hath within itself a body, chosen in part
or in the whole by the freemen, freeholders, or other free inhabitants thereof, commonly called
the General Assembly or General Court, with powers legally to raise, levy, and assess,
according to the several usages of such colonies, duties and taxes towards defraying all sorts
of public services.

The fifth resolution is also a resolution of fact: That the said general assemblies, general courts,
or other bodies legally qualified as aforesaid, have at sundry [several/various] times freely
granted several large subsidies and public aids for his Majestys service, according to their
abilities, when required thereto by letter from one of his Majestys principal Secretaries of
State; and that their right to grant the same, and their cheerfulness and sufficiency in the said
grants, have been at sundry times acknowledged by Parliament.

Benjamin Franklin
Letters on the Prospects for Reconciliation and the Beginning of War,
1775- 1776

12 SEPT. 1775.
To David Hartley, Member of Parliament, London.

With this[letter]I send you a number of Newspapers and Pamphlets by which you will
see Things are become serious here. Your Nation must stop short and change its
Measures, or she will lose the Colonies forever. The Burning of Towns and firing from
Men of War [warships] on defenseless Cities and Villages filld with Women and
Children, the exciting the Indians to fall on our innocent Back [country] Settlers and our
Slaves to murder their Masters, are by no means Acts of a legitimate Government. They
are of barbarous Tyranny and dissolve all Allegiance. The Insolence of your Captains of
Men of War [warships] is intolerable. But we suppose they
know whom they are to please.

13 SEPT. 1775.
To Bishop Jonathan Shipley, Anglican clergyman, England.

Our united Wishes for a Reconciliation of the two Countries are not, I fear, soon to be
accomplished, for I hear your Ministry are determind to persevere in their mad
Measures, and here I find the firmest Determination to resist at all Hazards. The Event
may be doubtful, but it is clear to me that if the Contest is only to be ended by our
Submission, it will not be a short one. We have given up our Commerceour last
Ships, 34 Sail, left this Port the 9th Instant [of this month]: And in our Minds we give up
our Sea Coast (tho Part may be a little disputed) to the barbarous Ravages of your
Ships of War; but the internal Country we shall defend. It is a good one and fruitful. It is,
with our Liberties, worth defending, and it will itself by its Fertility enable us to defend it.
Agriculture is the great Source of Wealth and Plenty. By cutting off our Trade you have
thrown us to the Earth, whence like Antaeus we shall rise yearly with fresh Strength and
Vigor. . . . I am here immersd in so much Business that I have scarce time to eat or
sleep. The Winter I promise myself will bring with it some Relaxation. This Bustle is
unsuitable to Age. How happy I was in the sweet Retirement of Twyford, where my only
Business was a little Scribbling in the Garden Study and my Pleasure your
Conversation, with that of your amiable Family!

The Howe Brothers and the American Revolution

By: Ira D. Gruber

Chapter: The Olive Branch Withers

Pg. 3-5

By Christmas of 1774 most Englishmen were well aware that the twelve British colonies
in North America were near rebellion. For more than a decade these colonies had resisted the
efforts of successive ministries to assert tighter controls over colonial commerce and
government and to raise a revenue in America. Being unable to evade objectionable laws, the
colonists had resisted them openly: refusing to pay taxes for revenue, boycotting British goods,
and denying that Parliament had a right to tax them or manage their domestic affairs.
Parliament responded by asserting in the Declaratory Act of 1766 that is could make laws to
bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever. Neither side pressed for a resolution of these
conflicting claims until 1773, when Bostonians destroyed a shipment of tea to keep their
neighbors from buying it, paying the import duty, and acknowledging thereby Parliaments rights
to tax the colonists for revenue. Parliament promptly closed the port of Boston and altered the
government of Massachusetts. These measures, known to Englishmen as the Massachusetts
Acts, were designed to punish the people of Boston and the sustain parliamentary supremacy
throughout America. The colonists were not to be intimidated. Delegates from twelve colonies
meeting at Philadelphia in September and October 1774 agreed not merely to stop consuming
British goods and trading with Britain but also to make an explicit statement of their grievances
and constitutional claims. In several addresses, a petition to the kind, and a declaration of rights,
they asked that oppressive measures taken by Parliament since the Seven Year War be
repealed, asserted that the colonial legislatures had exclusive jurisdiction over their domestic
affairs (including taxation for revenue0, and resolved to oppose force with force if British troops
were used to support acts of Parliament in Massachusetts. These resolutions offered a blunt
challenge to the supremacy of Parliament and to the continuation of British Rule in America.
The king and the ministry deeply resented this challenge. Like Englishmen of nearly
every political persuasion, they were committed to preserving the legislative supremacy of
Parliament throughout the empire. But they could not agree how best to sustain that supremacy
in America. During the autumn of 1774, while adopting a succession of coercive measures, they
had continued to search for peaceful alternatives. . . At times they turned to persuasion [rather
than violence], negotiating with a leading colonist and considering plans to send a peace
mission to America.

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