A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

For Teachers » Core Concepts

CONCEPT 4

The decade before the Revolution began was a continual tug of war between those who wanted to force confrontation and those who sought accommodation and compromise.

Suppose we all agree on the nature of a problem. Does that mean we agree on how to solve it? What happens when we disagree sharply over the proper solution?

Political change emerges from conflicts over solutions, from tensions between moderates and radicals over how to address a particular challenge. It is important that students understand how when groups that share goals develop different, often competing, methods to achieve those goals, the resulting tensions powerfully shape events.

    GOALS:

    As a result of using this website, students will understand that...
  • some people had specific motivations to force confrontation; others had specific motivations to seek accommodation
  • each group used events in a different way
  • the dynamic of the opposing approaches is evident in the arguments of each group which were intended for the other
  • by 1775/1776, advocates of confrontation were outnumbering the accommodators

    OBJECTIVES:

    Students demonstrate their understanding of this concept by...
  • identifying pertinent documents:
    • finding at least two documents from the Coming of the American Revolution website
    • explaining how they illustrate this goal
  • interpreting the documents
    • conducting a Document Analysis (see Document Analysis Worksheet)
    • answering Questions to Consider (writing and discussion prompts) at bottom of each document description
  • investigating the significance and interconnections of the documents
    • following one or more of the Further Exploration research assignments and project suggestions at bottom of each document description
    • drawing conclusions backed by evidence from documents and introductory essays
  • answering the following Framing Questions (drawn directly from the stated Goals above) based on those conclusions and that evidence collected from the documents:
    • What reasons did some people have for forcing confrontation and why did some seek accommodation as the best course?
    • How did each of those groups use a specific event that you have selected and what were their motivations?
    • How did each group try to persuade the other?
    • Why did the accommodators begin to lose ground?

Documents

The Sugar Act

The “exclusive Right of the People”
Letter from Thomas Cushing to Jasper Mauduit, 17 November 1764
Letter from Thomas Cushing to Jasper Mauduit, 17 November 1764

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The Stamp Act

Safety Comes First
Letter from Archibald Kennedy to Cadwallader Colden (retained copy), 2 November 1765, and letter Cadwallader Colden to Archibald Kennedy (copy), 2 November 1765
Letter from Archibald Kennedy to Cadwallader Colden (retained copy), 2 November 1765, and letter Cadwallader Colden to Archibald Kennedy (copy), 2 November 1765

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Prosperity the End; Protectionism the Means
Letter from James Murray to John Murray (letterbook copy), 13 November 1765
Letter from James Murray to John Murray (letterbook copy), 13 November 1765

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The Formation of the Sons of Liberty

Under the Liberty Tree
St-p! St-p! St-p! No: Tuesday-Morning, December 17, 1765
St-p! St-p! St-p! No: Tuesday-Morning, December 17, 1765

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Keeping the Peace
Extract of a letter from Charlestown, South Carolina, Dec. 2, 1765 ...
"Extract of a letter from Charlestown, South Carolina, Dec. 2, 1765 ..."
Article from page 1 of the Supplement to the Boston Gazette, 27 January 1766

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Non-Consumption and Non-importation

Trade Violators Exposed!
Summary of the Cargo of the Snow Pittt [sic] ...
"Summary of the Cargo of the Snow Pittt [sic] ..."
List from page 1 of The Boston Chronicle, Number 120, 17-21 August 1769

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"zeal in the cause"
Letter from Boston Merchants to Dennis De Berdt, 30 January 1770
Letter from Boston Merchants to Dennis De Berdt, 30 January 1770

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The Boston Massacre

Tories Strike First
A Fair Account of the Late Unhappy Disturbance at Boston in New England
A Fair Account of the Late Unhappy Disturbance at Boston in New England

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A Sinister Plot?
A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston...
A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston...

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Justice Prevailed

The Boston Tea Party

The "True Sons of Liberty" Weigh In
Tradesmen's Protest against the Proceedings of the Merchants ...
Tradesmen's Protest against the Proceedings of the Merchants ...

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Will you Shrink at Boston?
Extract of a Letter from Philadelphia, Dec. 4, 1773. Our tea consignees ...
"Extract of a Letter from Philadelphia, Dec. 4, 1773. Our tea consignees ..."
Article from page 3 of The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, Number 975, 13 December 1773

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342 Chests of Tea into the Sea
Boston, December 20. On Tuesday last the body of the people ...
"Boston, December 20. On Tuesday last the body of the people ..."
Article from page 3 of The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, Number [976], 20 December 1773

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Bostonians, Keep up your Courage
Tea, Destroyed by Indians
Tea, Destroyed by Indians

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Good and Loyal Subjects Speak up
At a Town-Meeting held in Marshfield ...
"At a Town-Meeting held in Marshfield ..."
Article from pages 1-2 of The Massachusetts Gazette; and the Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser, Number 859, 31 January - 7 February 1774

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The Coercive Acts

Paying for the Tea
To the Printers of the Massachusetts Gazette ...
"To the Printers of the Massachusetts Gazette ..."
Article from page 2 of The Massachusetts Gazette: And The Boston Weekly News-Letter, Number 3693, 14 July 1774

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The First Continental Congress

Spirited Debates
Speaking with One Voice
At a Meeting of the Delegates of every Town and District in the County of Suffolk ...
"At a Meeting of the Delegates of every Town and District in the County of Suffolk ..."
Article from page 1 of the Supplement to the Massachusets-Gazette, 15 September 1774

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A Humble Petition
The Petition of Grand American Continental Congress, to the King's Most Excellent Majesty
The Petition of Grand American Continental Congress, to the King's Most Excellent Majesty

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“A System formed to enslave America”
Friday, October 14, 1774. The Congress came into the following Resolutions
"Friday, October 14, 1774. The Congress came into the following Resolutions"
From Extracts from the votes and proceedings of the American Continental Congress: held at Philadelphia on the 5th of September 1774. Published by order of the Congress.
Philadelphia: Printed by William and Thomas Bradford, 1774.

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Lexington and Concord

A Powder Alarm
John Rowe diary 11, 1-4 September 1774, pages 1901-1902
John Rowe diary 11, 1-4 September 1774, pages 1901-1902

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The Second Continental Congress

A Spirited Manifesto
A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in General Congress at Philadelphia
A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in General Congress at Philadelphia

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A Pesky Preamble