Massachusetts Historical Society
America's oldest historical society, founded 1791.

For Teachers » Core Concepts

CONCEPT 6

At some point, each colonist had to face the individual dilemma of whether to remain loyal to the Crown or resist, knowing that his choice would have consequences.

Which side are you on? Why? What are the personal costs of taking a position on an important issue? Are you willing to sacrifice for your ideals?

During the imperial crisis Americans had to choose sides and their choices had consequences. Merchants debated between their political ideals and their pocketbooks as they considered signing non-importation agreements; patriot John Adams risked ostracism to defend British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre; newspapers chronicled the fates of those who opposed popular will. As is true today, one’s political position in the 1760’s and 1770’s often had significant personal consequences.

    GOALS:

    As a result of using this website, students will understand that...
  • the question of where one’s loyalty lies is a very personal decision that depends on many factors including family ties and economics
  • personal choices in times of war are considered public knowledge
  • colonists could face major repercussions for their choice of Tory or Patriot sides

    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 are the factors influencing decisions of loyalty?
    • Why are personal choices in times of war considered public knowledge?
    • What repercussions might colonists have to face as a result of their choices?

Documents

The Stamp Act

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

View Document

The Sons of Liberty

"Conducted to the General Satisfaction of the Publick"
Letter from Henry Bass to Samuel P. Savage, 19 December 1765
Letter from Henry Bass to Samuel P. Savage, 19 December 1765

View Document

The Townshend Acts

"the excessive use of foreign superfluities"
At a Meeting of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, legally assembled at Faneuil-Hall, on Wednesday the 28th of October 1767
At a Meeting of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, legally assembled at Faneuil-Hall, on Wednesday the 28th of October 1767

View Document
"Deprived of the Councils of a General Assembly"
Boston, September 14, 1768. Gentlemen, You are already too well acquainted with the melancholly [sic] and very alarming circumstances to which this province, as well as America in general, is now reduced ...
Boston, September 14, 1768. Gentlemen, You are already too well acquainted with the melancholly [sic] and very alarming circumstances to which this province, as well as America in general, is now reduced ...

View Document

Non-Consumption and Non-importation

Merchants vote: block English trade!
John Rowe diary 5, 4 March 1768, pages 717-718
John Rowe diary 5, 4 March 1768, pages 717-718

View Document
"any trifling package"
Letter from Thomas Robie to Richard Clarke & Sons, 13 January 1770
Letter from Thomas Robie to Richard Clarke & Sons, 13 January 1770

View Document

The Boston Tea Party

"You Are ... Political Bombadiers"
The following was dispersed in Hand Bills among the worthy Citizens of Philadelphia ...
"The following was dispersed in Hand Bills among the worthy Citizens of Philadelphia ..."
Article from page 2 of The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, Number 968, 25 October 1773

View Document
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

View Document
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

View Document
Good Indians, Bad Indians
We hear from Weston in the County of Middlesex ...
"We hear from Weston in the County of Middlesex ..."
Article from page 3 of The Massachusetts Gazette; and the Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser, Number 867, 28 March - 4 April 1774

View Document

The Coercive Acts

"we suffer in the common cause"
Gentlemen, The evils which we have long foreseen are now come upon this town and province ...
Gentlemen, The evils which we have long foreseen are now come upon this town and province ...

View Document
At a Town Meeting in Braintree
Thursday, June 30. Boston. Whereas scruples have arisen ...
"Thursday, June 30. Boston. Whereas scruples have arisen ..."
Article from page 3 of the Massachusetts Spy, Number 178, 30 June 1774

View Document
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

View Document
An Abundance of Goodwill
Letter from Titus Hosmer of the Committee of Correspondence for Middletown, Connecticut, to the Boston Committee of Donations (copy in letterbook volume 2), 17 October 1774, pages 81-83
Letter from Titus Hosmer of the Committee of Correspondence for Middletown, Connecticut, to the Boston Committee of Donations (copy in letterbook volume 2), 17 October 1774, pages 81-83

View Document
Depend on the Virginians
Letter from William Black of the Committee of Correspondence, James River County, Virginia, to the Boston Committee of Donations (copy in letterbook volume 2), 22 December 1774, pages 94-95
Letter from William Black of the Committee of Correspondence, James River County, Virginia, to the Boston Committee of Donations (copy in letterbook volume 2), 22 December 1774, pages 94-95

View Document

The Formation of the First Continental Congress

Reports from Philadelphia
Letter from Nathaniel Folsom and John Sullivan to Meshech Weare, 12 October 1774
Letter from Nathaniel Folsom and John Sullivan to Meshech Weare, 12 October 1774

View Document

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

View Document
Sounding the Alarm
Thomas Boynton journal, 19 April- 26 August 1775
Thomas Boynton journal, 19 April- 26 August 1775

View Document
Permits to Pass
In Provincial Congress, Watertown, April 30, 1775. Whereas an Agreement has been made ...
In Provincial Congress, Watertown, April 30, 1775. Whereas an Agreement has been made ...

View Document
Testimony of the Midnight Rider
Paul Revere's deposition, fair copy, circa 1775
Paul Revere's deposition, fair copy, circa 1775

View Document

The Second Continental Congress

"Open and avowed rebellion"
By the King, a Proclamation, For suppressing Rebellion and Sedition
By the King, a Proclamation, For suppressing Rebellion and Sedition

View Document

Washington Takes Command of the Continental Army

"The Blood of Your Fellow Subjects"
Prospect Hill. Bunker's Hill.
Prospect Hill. Bunker's Hill.

View Document
"Preservation of Order and Good Government"
Proclamation by General William Howe (manuscript copy), 28 October 1775
Proclamation by General William Howe (manuscript copy), 28 October 1775

View Document