A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Individuals and nations are moved to bold and decisive action not in the midst of calm but in the heat of strife. In the years between 1764 and 1776, America truly became a nation. Where before America had been a cluster of competing British colonies—with differing origins, goals, and policies—by 1776 colonists had forged a separate identity flexible enough to support not just revolution but nation building.

By investigating the lives and events recorded in newspapers, official documents and personal correspondence from our collection, you will immerse yourself in the past and discover the fears, friction and turmoil that shaped these tumultuous times.

Choose from the links below to begin your journey.

If you’d like to learn more about how this site works, read "how this site is structured."

Explore topics through selected documents in Flash. Browse primary sources by  topic.