VOICES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
In the years preceding the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, many American colonists
expressed opposition to Great Britain’s policies toward the colonies, but few thought seriously about
establishing an independent nation until late in the imperial crisis. Throughout the years of controversy
beginning in the 1760s, Americans expressed a variety of opinions about the legitimacy of open acts of
resistance and rebellion, which intensified as armed resistance began in April 1775. On both sides of the
issue, perspectives and motivations were diverse. Among those who favored resistance, for example, not
all would go so far as to advocate full-scale rebellion against Great Britain or national independence for
the United States. The debate, moreover, was not a static one, and its terms shifted over time; by 1776
many colonists found themselves advocating positions undreamed of a decade earlier.
In this lesson, you will work to make informed analyses of primary documents illustrating the diversity of
religious, political, social, and economic motives behind competing perspectives on questions of
independence and rebellion. Making use of a variety of primary texts, the activities will help you to “hear”
some of the colonial voices that, in the course of time and under the pressure of novel ideas and events,
contributed to the American Revolution.
Your assignment will be to read ten documents from the lists below. Each document must come from a
different perspective. You should use two documents from each group to write your essay. You will then
write a three to five page essay in which you compare and contrast what the Revolution meant to different
groups in society.
Feel free to include any other sources, but the majority of your paper must be based on primary sources
from the time period.
You will also need to footnote what documents you are using in Chicago Manuel style. Any word
processor should help you make footnotes. Please use the following link to complete your footnotes in the
Voices of the American Revolution
Most religious ministers who operated before independence largely asked the American
population to seek divine judgement. They always interpreted Bible teachings and applied them
to settings of the society. However, they believed that true justice came from God. For example,
Jonathan Mayhew one congressional minister who served during this time was a key believer in
high justice. They believed that God was to be the ultimate judge of all actions of human beings.
Therefore, they expected all people irrespective of their positions to apply Bible teachings to the
society 1 . Despite being from both divides, they believed that all members of society who were
doing good and following the mandatory laws as set by the Bible would never be punished.
However, punishment was to be used for all parties that contravened Bible teachings. However,
they believed that this form of punishment will only be applied to God. Jacob Cushing another
minister advocated for a different form of following. However, it was still in line with divine
judgments 2 . Most teachings were based on the teachings of Moses. The same context was being
used to confront challenges associated with colonialism.
Loyalist wrote poems and songs advocated for Great Britain continual presence in the
United States. Most songs and poems that were written during this time placed a lot of praise on
King George and their family. In one of the poems titled God Save the King loyalists ask God to
punish all people who are against the King 3 . Another poem urges all people from the United
States to choose the winning side, that is in their case the army of King George. They urge all
people to refrain from joining the rebellion side. They even term it as a failed objective. The
main purpose seems to be the continual dominance of the British Empire in the United States.
Another commonly used song utilised is known as the Tradesman Song. It urges all people to
come out in large numbers to celebrate certain occasions in society. Celebrating such occasions
in their colony showed British influence and dominance and their intention to continue staying in
the United States.
Patrick Henry wrote a book in 1775 titled Give me Liberty or Give me Death. The paper
articulated rights of all Americans affected by colonial policies. The rebels intended to use all
available methods to gain their freedom. They are demanding their rights and not begging for it
under the current law. They intended to use any means possible to overcome the British, who had
taken over their land. Patrick Henry’s book provides the British community or colonialist with
only two options 4 . The first one is to either give them their liberty or to give them death since
they have suffered for many years from their country. The rebels wanted their land back using all
means, legally or illegal. Thomas Jones articles titled Common Sense brings out major issues
affecting the country. Most Americans were tired of abuse of power by the colonialist
1 “Jonathan Mayhew’s Sermon On Submission”. Lawandliberty.Org.
government 5 . The King of Great Britain had in numerous cases reduced powers of American
giving precedence to majority issues facing colonial settlers. The sole purpose of all rebels was
to ensure they fought against the British colonial system and all other players who were
interested in taking their lands.
African American Perspectives
African Americans were neutral partners in the war against the British and Americans.
Both of the above parties had supported slavery of the African- American population and could
not have acted as an arbitrator on all issues that were facing the two parties 6 . While violence
between the two parties was going on some slaves were arrested and taken to British offices in
New York. The slaves felt much better during this period. However, after the collision, slaves
were much afraid of going back to their original owners since they were to be treated in the same
manner as before 7 . This means that they would still be viewed as slaves during this whole
period. African –Americans insisted that slavery and any form of colonialism were two systems
not acceptable in any society.
The Declaration of necessity to take up arms passed by Congress urging all people to take
up arms to fight against anyone who attempted to degrade aspects of humanity 8 . The declaration
stated that most violations had been made to the people of the United States. The declaration
intended to take back the land of their forefathers that had been taken over by colonialists.
The Declaration of Independence showed that there are the United States was no longer a
colony of the British government 9 . They would resist any attempt by major players in the British
society from taking over their land.5 “Thomas Paine – Common Sense (1776) < 1776-1785 < Documents < American History From Revolution To
Reconstruction And Beyond”. 2016. Odur.Let.Rug.Nl.
Africans in America/Part 2/. Boston King’s Memories of the Evacuation. New York. Pbs.Org.