"From the Newport Mercury. Newport, June 24. Extract of a Letter from Gentleman in Philadelphia ..."

From the Newport Mercury. Newport, June 24. Extract of a Letter from Gentleman in Philadelphia ...
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[ This description is from the project: Coming of the American Revolution ]

The publication of this letter, written from Philadelphia, spread the news north that Virginia's Assembly, in response to the passage of the Stamp Act, resolved to resist the enforcement of any British taxation. These resolutions became known as the Virginia Resolves.

"Reprinting" Virginia's Resolves

Throughout the spring months of 1765, while Parliament carries on the business of the empire, colonial legislatures meet to regulate their own affairs. As Virginia's May legislative session draws to a close, news arrives that the stamp tax has been enacted. On the 30th of the month, goaded by the recently elected member Patrick Henry, the Virginia House of Burgesses passes a series of resolutions that recasts its earlier objections, objections embodied in the petitions Parliament had refused to consider. Four Virginia Resolves are entered into the assembly's official record, but others have apparently been debated. When the conservative Virginia Gazette declines to print the approved resolves, radicals gain control of their publication. On 24 June, the Newport Mercury prints the resolves, now grown from four to six. By 7 July, when the Maryland Gazette carries them, they are seven in number. Portrayed as more sweeping than they in fact are, the resolutions adopted by the Virginia House embolden other colonial legislatures.

To examine all four pages of this newspaper, please see the online display of the The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, 1 July 1765.

Questions to Consider

1. Compare the four official Virginia Resolves, as listed in the glossary, to the resolves "reprinted" in the Newport Mercury. What is similar? What different? Which set of resolutions is more radical? Give evidence for your conclusion.

Further Exploration

2. The other colonies that prepared resolutions were: Rhode Island, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Adopt one colony and research its resolutions. How do they compare to Virginia's official resolves?

3. Consider the power of the press. How might the protest against the Stamp Act have been different if the "radicals" had not had the opportunity to deliver their version of the Virginia Resolves? Taking the position of a conservative, or loyalist, who knows that the Virginia House of Burgesses adopted a set of resolves different from those represented in the Newport Mercury, write a letter to the editor of that newspaper protesting its misrepresentation of them.

4. How does the news affect modern citizens' understanding of current events? Choose a contemporary event and compare how it is reported by at least three sources. Be sure to identify and characterize your sources (AP wire, news report, editorial, blog, etc.)