GrCr: Cyc Am Pol Thght ~ outlines #1 ~ Ch. 1 to 6 (synopsis separately)

February 9, 2018

Table of Contents and outlines 1 thru (?)

Professor Biography & Course Overview `…. 1 to 3

Lecture One ~ America—The Philosophical Experiment ……… 4

Lecture Two ~ Historical Baggage ………………………………………8

Lecture Three ~ Theoretical Baggage ………………………………… 11

Lecture Four ~ A Puritan Beginning……………………………………15

Lecture Five ~ Expansion and Individualism …………………….. 20

Lecture Six ~ The Revolutionary Context ………………………….. 24

Lecture Seven ~ Road to the Declaration of Independence…..29

Lecture Eight ~ A “Natural” Revolutionary—Thomas Paine…. 34

Lecture Nine ~ The Unconscious Dialectic of Crèvecoeur ……. 39

Lecture Ten ~ John Adams—“Constitutionalist” …………………. 43

Lecture Eleven ~ A Political Constitution……………………………. 48

Lecture Twelve ~ A Philosophical Constitution—Faction ……… 53

Lecture Thirteen ~ A Philosophical Constitution— Structure…..58

Lecture Fourteen ~ Philosophical Constitution Interpretation….63

Lecture Fifteen ~ Disorganized Losers—The Anti-Federalists…… 68

Lecture Sixteen ~ The “Genius” of Thomas Jefferson ……………… 73

Lecture 17 ~ Jacksonian Democracy— “The People” Extended…. 78

Lecture Eighteen ~ Iconoclastic Individualism—Thoreau ……….. 83

Lecture 19 ~ Inclusionist Stirrings—Douglass and Stanton………. 88

Lecture Twenty ~ The Organic Socialism of Brownson …………… 93

Lecture 21 ~ American Feudalism—The Vision of Fitzhugh …….. 98

Lecture Twenty-Two ~ Constitutionalizing the Slave Class……… 103

Lecture 23 ~ Lincoln’s Reconstitution of America …………………. 109

Lecture Twenty-Four ~ Equality in the Law and in Practice ……. 115

Lecture 25 ~ Social Darwinism and Economic Laissez-Faire …… 120

Lecture Twenty-Six ~ Looking Backward, Looking Forward …… 126

Lecture Twenty-Seven ~ Teddy Roosevelt and Progressivism …. 132

Lecture Twenty-Eight ~ Supreme Court and Laissez-Faire …….. 138

Lecture 29 ~ Women’s Movement and the 19th Amendment…. 143

Lecture 30 ~ Eugene V . Debs and Working-Class Socialism….. 148

lecture 31 ~ Hamiltonian Means for Jeffersonian Ends …………. 153

Lecture 32 ~ FDR, the New Deal, and the Supreme Court ………. 158

Lecture Thirty-Three ~ The Racial Revolution ………………………. 164

Lecture Thirty-Four ~The New Egalitarianism and Freedom ….. 170

Lecture Thirty-Five ~The Reagan Revolution…………………………. 176

Lecture 36 ~ Cycles of American Political Conversations…………. 182


Outline Lecture One ~ America—The Philosophical Experiment ……… 4

I. Why does the history of American political thought matter?

  1. America is a political entity self-consciously designed by philosophically informed architects.
    1. It grew from seeds planted by the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment.
    2. As such, it gives us a living, breathing example of philosophic development.
  2. We will assess three elements essential to the development of American political thought:
    1. The main currents of American thought cycle around a hub of liberalism.
    2. As we will see, liberalism is a philosophy with the individual at its center.
  1. It entails certain concepts—autonomy, liberty, equality, consent, and limited external authority over the individual— though each concept can be read differently.
  2. As the course develops, we will see that the “play in the joints” in these liberal conceptions creates contending “liberalisms,” which we will call minimal state and active state liberalism.
  3. In addition, alternative philosophies arise to challenge liberalism and respond to changing times.
  4. The interaction among these contending schools of thought, liberal and otherwise, creates the context for the development of American political thought and conditions the cycles that it experiences over time.

C. We will examine two interrelated aspects of the American political tradition:

  1. The explicitly theoretical arguments that different thinkers make.
  2. The ebb and flow of arguments as the historical context changes.

D. We will sample from a broad scope of materials:

  1. The arguments of self-conscious, intentional political theorists.
  2. The theoretical implications of the positions and policies of political actors.
  3. Opinions in Supreme Court decisions that are central to themes of political theory.

II. In canvassing American political thought, we will touch on five recurring themes:

  1. The first is American exceptionalism, which takes on sectarian and secular forms.
  2. The second is the dynamic malleability of liberalism, which allows one core philosophy to adjust its contours to changes in context.
  3. Third, we will see that rather than having one “founding,” America has experienced at least three “reconstitutions.”
  4. Fourth, we will look at the concept of “the people,” which has been an expansive idea, with pressures for greater inclusion pressing on the polity from the time when 55 white, property- holding men gathered in Philadelphia to write the Constitution.

E. Finally, we will explore the distinctly American notion of space, which in the context of the vast virgin continent becomes a multifaceted and central part of the political thought that emerges from it.

III. The course will take us over the broad and varied range of thought that has arisen as the American experiment has unfolded.

  1. Central to the development of American political thought is the way thinkers, actors, and institutions have interacted.
    1. The historical, social, and economic context of the times frames thought.
    2. The relationship between ideas and context is dynamic.
    3. In this interplay, we will see cycles of thought: elements of older arguments reemerging to contest with contemporary conceptions.
  2. Louis Hartz, a historian of American thought, argued that America’s political tradition is liberal, but the story is more complex and interesting.
    1. In this series, we will see that a variety of political philosophies have emerged from the fertile soil of the New World.
    2. In the beginning, there were the Puritans and their conservative attachment to order, hierarchy, and truths defined for the people and imposed on them.
    3. During the revolutionary period, different conceptions of liberalism emerged and contested to control the philosophical content of the American idea.
    4. In the early 1800s, pressures for greater inclusion expanded “We the people,” but divided them over issues of race and gender, as well.
    5. The Civil War and the events leading up to it brought non-liberal arguments grounded in socialism and conservativism to the national fore.
    6. The Gilded Age at the end of the 19th century saw socialist and anarchistic arguments reemerge to challenge the liberalisms competing at the war’s end.
  1. With industrialization and the rise of nationwide corporations came an economically defined liberalism (Social Darwinism) that spawned a rich array of philosophical response.
  2. The Great Depression of the 1930s clipped the wings of minimal state liberalism and helped usher in the active state liberalism implicit in Jefferson and Lincoln.
  3. Political thought since the end of World War II has been a tussle between minimal and active state liberalism as the nation continues to define itself in the present by, in part, reaching back to its past.
  4. In sum, the liberalism that Hartz saw as defining American political thought has itself been defined, in part, by this rich field of philosophical traditions.

C. In understanding the strains of political thought of the past, we must understand the present.

  1. To talk about where we are, we need to talk about where we came from.
  2. Knowing where we came from helps place present-day debates about political philosophy, often called “ideology,” in a broader perspective.
  3. This perspective shows us where—and why—we differ.
  4. It also shows us what we share as the inheritors of what JohnWinthrop called in 1630 the “Citty upon a Hill” that we understand to be America.

Suggested Readings:

Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America.
Vernon L. Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought.
Lyman Sargent, Contemporary Political Ideologies.
Glenn Tinder, Political Thinking: The Perennial Questions.

Outline ~ Lecture Two ~ Historical Baggage ………………………………………8

  1. America did not fall from the heavens fully formed.
    1. The first European settlers to the “virgin” continent were English. 1. They brought with them pre-formed conceptions of society and government.
      2. These conceptions framed their approach to life in the New World.
      3. To understand American thought, we need to unpack the baggage its first settlers brought with them.
    2. The next lecture will look at the theoretical baggage they carried; in this lecture, we look at the historical.
  2. Any thumbnail sketch of historical development will be incomplete, but here, we look at signal events in the development of the British constitution.
  1. England does not have a written constitution but a collection of documents and decisions that collectively establishes an unwritten constitution.
    1. A constitution creates forms of governmental decision making.
    2. A constitution frames the scope of, and limits on, the authority of government.
    3. A constitution establishes canons of legitimacy by which governmental actions are evaluated.
  2. The following events had signal importance in defining the British norms of governance that the colonists carried to America:
    1. The institution of the English state in 1066.
    2. The Salisbury Oath taken by the barons in 1086.
    3. Development of the Curia Regis during the reign of Henry II (1154–1189).
    4. The acceptance of the Magna Charta by King John in 1215.
    5. The decision in Bonham’s Case (1610) by Chief Justice Edward Coke.
    6. The Petition of Right (1628) presented to Charles I.
    7. The English Civil War (1642–1651), the Interregnum (1649–1660), and the Restoration (1660).
    8. The Habeas Corpus Act (1679).
    9. The Glorious Revolution (1688–1689).
    10. The English Bill of Rights (1689).
    11. The Act of Settlement (1701).

III. English constitutional governance was born of a long political struggle for power.

  1. This struggle created a conception of proper governance.
    1. The power of government is limited.
    2. Citizens have rights against the state that cannot be infringed.
    3. Executive authority must coexist with popular authority.
  2. As Englishmen, American colonists followed and learned from this history.
    1. Many of these events occurred during the early American settlements.
    2. In part, they reflected some of the religious concerns that animated the migration to America.

3. They informed the “English way” of governance.

4. And, although the colonists did not know it at the time, these events also foreshadowed the future course of events that their descendants would experience.

C. This history created the context in which the colonists would craft their politics.

D. This crafting would be informed, in part, by the theoretical reconstruction of this history.

Suggested Readings:

George Burton Adams, The Origin of the English Constitution.
Robert Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485–1714.
Ann Lyon, Constitutional History of the United Kingdom.

Outline ~ Lecture Three ~ Theoretical Baggage ………………………………… 11

I. The political drama discussed in the last lecture was not the only baggage the colonists carried to America.

  1. Historical events do not exist in a vacuum.
    1. As events occur, people attempt to make more general sense of them.
    2. One way to do this is to create explanations for events that put them in a larger interpretive context.
    3. The birth of liberalism was an interpretive response to this historical drama.
  2. In addition to the political tumult that shook England in the 17th century, there was also significant religious ferment.

1. The Reformation in Europe touched England in the mid-16th century

  1. In reaction to this, many competing Protestant sects emerged.
  2. One of these, the Puritans, brought the Reformation to the New World.

C. These two theoretical traditions—one political, the other religious—conditioned the ways in which the English and the colonists viewed and understood their world.

  1. The Protestant Reformation destroyed the Catholic Church as the fount of Christianity.
    1. Martin Luther began this process in Germany.
    2. John Calvin challenged Catholic authority in Geneva.
      1. By 1541, Calvin had essentially become the governing authority in Geneva.
      2. His Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) was declared holy writ in Geneva.
      3. Institutionalized, Calvin’s teachings held that the role of the state was to enforce the dictates of the church as law.
      4. The moral values of the Old Testament became the basis of the law.
    3. The Reformation in England was formalized by the Act of Supremacy (1534).
    4. After the establishment of the Church of England, dissenters emerged.
      1. Some found Anglicanism insufficient and sought Calvinist practices.
      2. Among these were members of a sect called the Puritans.
  2. Liberalism is the defining theoretical explanation of the GloriousRevolution, and its impact on America is enormous.
    1. Liberalism is a political philosophy grounded on the primacy of the individual.
      1. Central to its argument are concepts of rational self-interest, consent, rights, limited government, liberty, and equality.
      2. These central concepts are all subject to different interpretations and weightings.
    2. Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651) is the intellectual father of liberalism.
  1. He wrote in the context of the English Civil War and was animated by fear of disorder.
  2. Man originally existed in a state of nature, devoid of authority external to him.
  3. This condition was governed by laws of nature, the first of which was self-preservation.
  4. Human beings were naturally rational, self-interested, equal, and free.
  5. Life in the state of nature was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short…a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.”
  6. To achieve self-preservation, individuals consent to give up their right to decide all matters as they wish.
  7. By an act of consent, they create an absolute state to provide personal security.

C. John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government (1690) took Hobbesian concepts and shaped them into what we recognize as the basic argument of liberal theory.

  1. Locke wrote in the context of the Glorious Revolution, a time of orderly change and less characterized by general paranoia.
  2. He used the same concepts as Hobbes but conceptualized them differently.
  3. By nature, all men had natural rights to life, liberty, and estate.
  4. Man’s rationality led him, in the state of nature, to behave sociably.
  5. The self-interest of some led them to violate the natural rights of others.
  6. To protect their natural rights, men consented to create government.
  7. If government violates these rights, the people retain their right to revolt.

IV. Carrying this theoretical and historical baggage, English settlers colonized America throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.

  1. Many of the precepts of strict Calvinism and liberalism are in clear tension.
  2. These tensions would establish the political context of early colonial America.

Suggested Readings:

William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers: Plato to the Present, ch 12, 14, and 15.
George H. Sabine, A History of Political Theory, chapters 18, 23, and 26. Mulford Q. Sibley, Political Ideas and Ideologies: A History of Political Thought, chapters 17, 19, and 21.

Outline ~ Lecture Four ~ A Puritan Beginning……………………………………15

I. The English migration to America began in the early 17th century.

A. Jamestown was the first American colony (1607).

  1. As with most later colonies, it was chartered by the king.
  2. Colonists were guaranteed the same liberties that Englishmen enjoyed.
  3. The colony was constantly troubled, and the Virginia Company and the Crown sought to make moving to the New World more attractive.
  4. The 1619 Ordinance allowed the colony to set up a separate governing body.
  5. The Company and Crown still controlled the governor and council of state.
  6. A House of Burgesses was created, elected by “free men,” and so, too, a court system.
  7. The colony eventually failed and revived, but it established the prototype for colonial governance in America.
  1. The Mayflower journeyed from Plymouth, England, to Massachusetts in 1620.
    1. Unlike Jamestown, Plymouth Colony succeeded from the outset, ultimately being absorbed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
    2. Colonists wrote and signed what John Adams called the first American Constitution: the Mayflower Compact.
  2. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the most successful of the early colonies.
    1. It was established in 1629, under charter from the Crown, to govern consistently with English law.
    2. Its governmental structure was a governor, deputy governor, and 18 assistants.
    3. Puritans, so named because they sought to purify the Church of England along Calvinist lines, dominated the colony.
    4. The long-term goals of Puritans were to self-govern and remove themselves from the Church.

II. John Winthrop was the dominant figure in the early Massachusetts Bay Colony.

  1. A strong Calvinist, he graduated from Trinity College in Cambridge and became a lawyer.
    1. Charles I married a Catholic and advanced divine-right monarchy claims.
    2. Winthrop feared that Catholic influences were corrupting the Anglican Church.
    3. Fearing divine retribution on England, he sought refuge in the New World.
    4. In America, he worked to establish a biblical commonwealth consistent with Calvin’s teachings.
    5. Once in Boston, he became a leading citizen in the growing colony.
    6. He served as governor four times and for 8 of his 19 years in the colony.
  2. As a result of his learning and social prominence, Winthrop dominated the politics of the colony’s early development.

III. Calvinism infused Winthrop’s private and public visions.

  1. His “Christian Experience” (1636) describes his personal battles to control his sinful nature.
    1. Sin gnawed at him from the time he was young.
    2. His attachment to God waxed and waned throughout his life.
    3. He came to understand that freedom would come only in submission to God.
    4. Material affairs weakened Winthrop’s attachments by playing to his “secret corruptions.”
    5. Eventually, he came to understand the covenant of grace in his heart.
    6. Life on Earth is a constant trial of the good (and transcendent) tempted by the evil (and material).
    7. Metaphorically, this is the trial undergone by communities that aspire to live in the light of the Lord.
  2. Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” (1630) framed a “Citty upon a Hill.”
    1. A Christian community exists in a “Covenant” with God.
    2. This covenant is an agreement to live in accordance with God’s laws.
    3. As long as a community lives up to this covenant, God will bless and protect it.
  3. Winthrop’s “Little Speech” (1645) framed the principles under which just governance occurs.
    1. The government is to enforce the laws of God.
    2. Citizens are to obey the government and be ruled by God.
    3. “Natural” liberty is the freedom of beasts and sinners.
    4. “Civil” liberty is freedom under God’s authority, the true liberty for fallen man.
    5. Civil liberty flows from the Old Testament and is the measure of a community.
    6. Democracy is a corruption of God’s will and just governance.
    7. Only the elect can govern.
    8. Others must obey and live in their stations, subordinate to God.
    9. Among other things, this means that woman must stay “in the place God had set her.”
    10. Thus, a “Citty upon a Hill” will be God’s gift to man.

IV. Winthrop’s legacy is theocratic and philosophically conservative.

A. Man’s natural desires are sinful and evil.

  1. The “good” is external to man and must be imposed on him by church and state.
  2. The elite elect must discipline the people.
  3. The government draws its authority and legitimacy from God.
  4. Just governance flows from the imposition of and obedience to biblical law.
  5. Freedom is socially constructed.

B. The of man and society.
1. There is skepticism about man’s reason as a measure of the philosophical conservatism here results from a particular view good.

  1. The good of the whole transcends men; it does not come from them.
  2. Hierarchy is necessary to guide society toward the good.
  3. Order is just when men are governed in accordance with the transcendent good.
  4. In a way, society is real; humans are merely instances of it.
  5. For humans to be good, society must be made and kept good.

C. Yet in this organic vision of society and governance are the seeds of individualism.

  1. The covenant suggests choice, and choice, consent.
  2. Election of magistrates invites representation of the people’s understanding of the commands of God.
  3. Coupled with the space afforded by the virgin continent and the rise of less elitist conceptions of church organization, Puritanism lost its stranglehold on early American governance and political thought.

Suggested Readings:

Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilderness.
Edmund Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop.
Thomas J. Wertenbaker, The Puritan Oligarchy.
John Winthrop, The History of New England from 1630 to 1649.

Outline ~ Lecture Five ~ Expansion and Individualism …………………….. 20

I. The dominance of Winthrop’s version of Puritanism waned as the 17th century wore on.

  1. The declining religiosity of subsequent generations weakened popular acceptance of the legitimacy of the dictates of religious leaders.
  2. Abundance of territorial space allowed the spread of communities, making more difficult efforts to control and constrain their members.
  3. Cleavages within the Protestant Church worked to undermine elite control of doctrine.
  1. The advent of the Glorious Revolution and Locke’s gloss on it gave new impetus to a growing appreciation of the capacity of the individual to govern himself.
  2. In this lecture, we will examine the effects of the first three points:
    1. The cracks in the colonial Christian world opened up new political possibilities.
    2. In these cracks, new Christian sects developed.
    3. These sects proved more tolerant and, ultimately, more politically liberal and democratic than their Puritan precursors.
  3. Politically, a string of modifications to the Massachusetts Bay Charter took their toll.A. The Body of Liberties (1641) established a written legal code and vested the General Court with the exclusive authority to legislate for the colony.B. The Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts (1648) built on the Body of Liberties, establishing greater procedural requirements and protections.C. The Half-Way Covenant (1662) relaxed rules for church membership and political participation.D. These political changes fed the social liberalization of the population of the colony.
    1. Governance was not perceived to be the sole domain of the elite.
    2. Limits existed not only for citizens but for the government.
  4. The expansion of the population from major cities to new towns worked a de facto decentralization of elite power.
    1. I will not belabor the point, but as the colony grew, it spawned new towns.
    2. Often, these towns were settled by religious dissenters from other cities or new immigrants who were never socialized into Puritan orthodoxy.
    3. Outside of this orthodoxy, citizens were less susceptible to its pull.
    4. The sheer vastness of physical space took on political relevance as it undermined elite control.
  5. Cracks in the Puritan elite began forming by the middle of the 17th century.
  1. Roger Williams arrived in Massachusetts Bay in 1631.
    1. He was educated at Pembroke College at Cambridge University.
    2. Taking up a life in the ministry, he ran afoul of the Church of England, and this precipitated his departure to the New World.
    3. His independent religious beliefs soon set him apart from the governing elite.
    4. Williams was a strict Calvinist theologically, but he deviated from Puritan teachings.
    5. He renounced the Puritans for not formally separating from the Anglican Church.
    6. His beliefs led him to dispute two cardinal tenants of Puritan orthodoxy: First, he rejected the enforcement of biblical law by the state. Second, he believed in “soul-liberty,” what we now call freedom of conscience.
    7. Gifted in languages, Williams picked up native tongues and developed respect for Indian tribes, ultimately concluding that any land derived from them must be purchased.
    8. Williams was banished from Massachusetts Bay.
    9. He ended up founding the colony of Providence, later, Rhode Island.
    10. Here, he implemented his notions of religious freedom and political democracy in civil matters.
    11. In his odyssey is a demonstration of a uniquely American dimension of political reality and, ultimately, thought: the connection between liberty and space.
  2. Within Boston itself, a more democratically inclined Congregationalism began to eat away at the conceptions of centralized authority at the heart of Presbyterianism.
  3. John Wise’s argument for democratic church organization provides an example.
    1. The son of a former indentured servant, Wise was a sectarian secularizer.
    2. He fought the Mathers’s efforts to reassert Winthropian conceptions after the Half-Way Covenant and was imprisoned for resisting the arbitrary taxes imposed by the royal governor in 1687.
    3. In his Vindication of the Government of New England Churches (1717), Wise argued that democracy was grounded in scripture.
  1. Although drawn from the Bible, Wise’s principles, the principles in the Vindication, are comfortably Lockean: Legitimate governance arises when equal and free individuals at nature “assemble together [and] enter into a covenant.”
  2. Majority rule was the governing mechanism created by this compact.

V. With time, these cracks caused the Puritan dominance of New England colonies to crumble.

  1. At the onset of the 18th century, new voices were being heard.
  2. Puritanistic concerns never wholly depart from the scene, but they recede to become one philosophical possibility that cycles through subsequent historical periods.
    1. They resurface in periodic “Great Awakenings.”
    2. They animate an element of the “conservative” reaction to perceived excesses of the 1960s.
    3. Never again, though, will they monopolize political thought.
    4. They come to rest along side, and compete with, the American importation of individualist English liberal thought.
    5. The individualism of liberalism undermined the communitarianism of earlier Puritan political conservatism.

Suggested Readings:

George Cook, John Wise: Early American Democrat.
Perry Miller, Roger Williams: A Contribution to the American Tradition.
Roger Williams, A Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience.
John Wise, A Vindication of New England Churches.

Outline ~ Lecture Six ~ The Revolutionary Context ………………………….. 24

I. Political thought chases events, and events chase political thought.

  1. Ideas (philosophy) and actions (context) exist in a complex relationship.
    1. Neither can be understood without the other.
    2. Both inform each other.
  2. The last two lectures discussed the early thought about colonial governance, but that was solely an American conversation.
  3. Until the mid-18th century, the British had little to do with day-to- day colonial affairs.
    1. The colonies functioned essentially as trading partners.
    2. In this context, they developed their own traditions of self-governance.
    3. Indeed, this is the genesis of the American notion of federalism that we will revisit in Lectures Eleven, Thirteen, and Fourteen.
    4. Historians refer to this as the period of “benign neglect.”
 D. The French and Indian War (1754–1763) and its aftermath changed the context.

E. This change in the political context gave birth to the context for a new, revolutionary vocabulary for American thought.

F. To understand this change in philosophical thought, we first look at the historical events that drove it.

  1. The French and Indian War was actually the American theater for the European Seven Years’ War.
    1. In Europe, this was, essentially, a struggle among emerging nation-states for dominance.
    2. In America, it was a struggle between the French and their Indian allies and the British.
      1. The Native Americans wanted to force the colonists from their lands.
      2. The French sought to solidify their territorial claims on the American continent.
      3. In the end, the French lost most of their North American possessions to the British and Spanish.
      4. The British gained Canada, which meant an extended empire and an overly extended treasury.
    3. To refill its coffers and sustain its expanding empire, the British turned to taxation schemes never before seen by their American brethren.
    4. This set the stage for the development of an “American” consciousness and, eventually, a distinctive political thought.
      1. What failed to materialize with Benjamin Franklin’s Albany Plan (1754) was forged by events.
      2. An “independent” America was created in response to failures of British imperial policy.
  2. The French and Indian War and its aftermath began the rift that eventually led to the Revolutionary War.

A. The British had the assistance of some colonial militias during the French and Indian War.
1. George Washington served as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Regiment.

  1. The Board of Trade encouraged the colonies to send representatives to Albany, New York, to talk over common interests.
  2. It was there that Franklin proposed the Albany Plan (1754).
  3. A first effort at limited colonial confederation, the plan failed as a result of colonial indifference and a decided lack of enthusiasm from the British.
  1. Not all colonial behavior during the war, however, supported the British.
  2. Some New England merchants conducted a profitable, albeit illegal, trade with the French.
    1. In response, in 1760, the British searched Massachusetts warehouses for contraband under the 1662 Writs of Assistance Act.
    2. James Otis, a Massachusetts lawyer who considered himself a loyalist, defended the merchants, arguing that the searches violated the “rights of Englishmen,” the common law, and almost incidentally, the natural rights of the colonists.
    3. John Adams later called this the birth of the American Revolution.

IV. After the war, the British Parliament passed a series of revenue measures to punish the colonists for the disloyalty of some and to raise money for the cash-strapped empire.

  1. This represented a shift in the British policy of taxation.
    1. Previously, taxes were basically duties, implemented to regulate commercial affairs.
    2. Now, Parliament was taxing solely to raise needed revenue.
  2. The Sugar Act (1764) was the first parliamentary act to tax colonies directly.1. The act levied a three-pence tax on sugar, wine, and other items imported from foreign countries and took steps to collect the taxes more consistently.2. The act prompted colonial outrage fanned by, among others, Sam Adams.3. Parliament repealed the act but replaced it with another.
  3. The Stamp Act (1765) imposed taxes on paper products brought in to America.
  1. This affected newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, contracts, playing cards, and other paper goods.
  2. Again, there was outrage in the colonies.
  3. The outrage led to the calling of the Stamp Act Congress, which drew delegates from nine colonies.
  4. The Congress petitioned Great Britain for rescission.
  1. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act but responded with the Declaratory Act (1766), which asserted the complete sovereignty of Parliament over the colonies.
  2. The next year, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts (1767), which imposed taxes on the import of glass, paint, paper, and tea into the colonies.
    1. Again, colonial anger was rampant.
    2. Parliament removed all the taxes except those on tea.
  3. The Tea Act (1773) dropped the tea tax but gave the East India Company a monopoly over the tea trade with the colonies.
    1. This undermined local merchants and prompted the Boston Tea Party.
    2. Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty threw 350 crates of tea into Boston Harbor.
  4. The furious British responded with the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts (1774).
    1. One act closed Boston Harbor and the Massachusetts legislature.
    2. Another required Massachusetts criminal cases to be tried in Britain.
    3. Another allowed the quartering of British troops in colonial homes.
    4. In a final humiliation, another reasserted Parliament’s absolute power over the colonies.

V. These acts, taken collectively, led to three results:

  1. The calling of the First Continental Congress (1774) and its issuance of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances.
  2. The calling of the Second Continental Congress (1775–1776) and its issuance of the Declaration of Independence.
  3. The forging of an infant nation with a new vocabulary of politics and theory.

Suggested Readings:

J.G.A. Pocock, Three British Revolutions: 1641, 1688, 1776.
Clinton Rossiter, Seed-Time of the Republic.

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