A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

For Teachers » Core Concepts

CONCEPT 7

People from different social and economic classes had different expectations of how the growing conflict with Great Britain would affect their lives.

In times of turmoil and change, how do people tie their personal aspirations to the goals of the larger group?

Is it necessarily true that those who have a lot to lose oppose change, while those with little to lose welcome it? Did merchants try to keep their politics in line with their profits? Did the women who supported non-consumption and non-importation share the same social and economic circumstances? What influenced people in similar economic circumstances to take opposite sides in the imperial debate? Did debates in the Continental Congress reflect social and economic divisions in the colonies? What were the motives of those who sought to avoid taking any position on the growing rift with Britain?

    GOALS:

    As a result of using this website, students will understand that...
  • many dispossessed people (un-propertied men, African-Americans and women) hoped for improvement in their day-to-day living conditions, with more upward mobility and economic stability, as a result of political upheaval
  • people who prospered under colonial rule debated the wisdom of separating from England
  • Loyalists hoped their connection to the crown would protect them even as the British government was losing control of the colonies
  • the principles of equality suggested by the revolutionary rhetoric were not necessarily achieved until many years (or centuries) after independence was declared

    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:
    • Which documents illustrate expectations of African-Americans, women, un-propertied men, and loyalists?
    • What factors explain the differing expectations?
    • Why would it take so long for rhetoric to become reality?

Documents

The Sugar Act

"Our Trade is most Greviously Embarrassed"
Extract of a letter from one of the council of Boston, in New-England, to a merchant in London.
"Extract of a letter from one of the council of Boston, in New-England, to a merchant in London."
Article from page 2 of The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston-Newsletter, number 3143, 17 May 1764.

View Document
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

View Document
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

Non-Consumption and Non-importation

An Address to the Ladies
Address to the Ladies
"Address to the Ladies"
Verse from page 3 of The Boston Post-Boy & Advertiser, Number 535, 16 November 1767

View Document

The Formation of the Committees of Correspondence

"divine spirit of freedom"
Boston, April 20th, 1773. Sir, The efforts made by the legislative [sic] of this province ...
Boston, April 20th, 1773. Sir, The efforts made by the legislative [sic] of this province ...

View Document

The Coercive Acts

"animosities run higher than ever"
Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 12 June 1774
Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 12 June 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

Lexington and Concord

"Heaven avert the Storm"
Letter from Hannah Fayerweather Winthrop to Mercy Otis Warren, 27 September 1774
Letter from Hannah Fayerweather Winthrop to Mercy Otis Warren, 27 September 1774

View Document