English 172
The American Revolution
Fall 2003
Professor William Warner

Course Overview


Study Materials

Student Papers and Project


9/26    Introduction: a new approach to the American Revolution

            The Ballad of General Wolfe 

Crisis within the British Empire

10/1    Commerce, Colonization, and the Empire of Liberty

Wood, American Revolution, Origins: 4-29;
ader: Joseph Addison, Spectator 69, “The Royal Exchange,” James Thomson, “Rule, Britannia!”, James Thomson Poetical Works, 422-423.

10/3   British Republicanism and the idea(l) of Liberty

Milton, from Areopagitica, (handout)
Reader: John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, Cato’s Letters, No. 15, “Of Freedom of Speech: That the same is inseparable from public Liberty,” I: 110-117; No. 106, “Of Plantations and Colonies,” II: 747-753.
John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, Chapter XIX, “Of the Dissolution of Government”, sections, 220-229, pp 373-378

10/8   Imperial Reform & The Stamp Act Crisis

Wood, American Crisis, 30-44;
Sources, Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress, 1765: 32-34
Reader: Pownall, The Administration of the Colonies, Jehlen & Warner, 836-841.

10/10   Response of British Americans to Taxation: the "Letters of an American Farmer"

Sources, John Dickinson, “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the  Inhabitants of the British Colonies”: 34-54

John Dickinson (1732-1808) biographical profile
Here are the various roles he played in the Revolution and during the post Revolutionary period:
  • Pennsylvania's delegate to the Stamp Act Congress (where he evidently drafted the resolutions);
  • a delegate to the 1st and 2nd Continental Congress;
  • one of the drafters of the Article of Confederation;
  • an officer in the war;
  • Delaware's delegate to the Constitutional Convention, where he stood up for the rights of the small states.
  • After independence, he served as governor, first of Delaware, and later Pennsylvania; he was also the founder of Dickinson College

Contexts of Dickinson's "Letters from an American Farmer":

Paper assignment on Dickinson’s “Letters.” Paper is due at the start of class on 10/15.
Write a 3 page paper defining the disposition, the posture and the style of protest that is advocated and modeled for the citizens of the British colonies in John Dickinson's "Letters from an American Farmer to the Inhabitants of British Colonies"

Postures of protest:

The Imperative of Colonial Unity:

A sedate, yet fervent spirit of liberty:

The Case of Boston

10/15 Political tactics: Samuel Adams and the Committee of Correspondence of the Town of Boston

Sources, ”Votes and Proceedings of the Town of Boston,” 87-97
Reader: “The Boston Massacre” in Greene, 140-143. 

Colonial Boston and the founding of the Committees of Correspondence: slides presentation


10/17  Governor Thomas Hutchinson preaches the English Constitution and becomes the subject of a scandal

  • Letters between Governor Thomas Hutchinson and Lord Dartmouth, American Secretary of British Administration: Documents of the American Revolution, V: 206; 238-240; VI: 44-45.
  • Thomas Hutchinson’s address to General Court, Jan 6, 1773, Briefs of the American Revolution, 15-23
  • Answer of the House (John Adams), Briefs, 70-73
  • Franklin and the Hutchinson letter scandal: Schmittroth, 171-201
Constitional Struggle in Boston: slide presentation
Team Assignment (for 10/22): report upon and performance of the episodes of the propaganda war in Boston
  • Read and analyze the texts of each episode: (exchange email addresses for coordination); practice your performance before class
  • Write a concise analysis of the episode for presentation to the whole class
  • Prepare to do a dramatic reading of a short passage of text for discussion by the whole class as part of your report

10/22   The Boston Tea Party and Parliament's Coercive Acts to Punish Boston

Wood, Revolution: 47-62
Sources, Massachusetts Government act & Quebec act: 100-104

            Reader: Letters of Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee:
à SA: Feb. 4, 1773 (Lee, 82-83)
SA à RHL: April 10, 1773 (SAdams, 25-28
SA (Boston CC) à CC’s of Philadelphia & colonies (SAdams, 109-111)
RHL à SA: June 23, 1774 (Lee, 111-113)
SA à RHL: July 15, 1774 (SAdams, 136-139)  


The Struggle becomes Continental

10/24   The First Continental Congress

Sources, Declaration and Resolves of the Continental Congress and Association: Sources, 118-125.
Reader: “The First Congress Debates the Rights of Americans,” Spirit, 45-55.
The King to Lord North, Nov 18, 1774 “the People are ripe for mischief…” Correspondence of King George III, 154.


The Approach to the First Continental Congress: slide presentation

The First Continental Congress: slide presentation

Reading and study questions for 10/29:
Continue reading Wood, 47-62.
Review questions on the letters of Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee:

  • What sort of help does the Committee of Correspondence of Boston seek from other committees after the Boston Port Bill? (R,115-117)
  • How does Richard Henry Lee work to support Boston in Virginia? (R, 118-119)
  • How does Adams hope the other colonies will respond to British persecution of Boston? What counter-measures does Adams favor? (R-121-123)

For further discussion in class:
“The First Congress Debates the Rights of Americans,” Spirit, 45-55. (R, 127-131)
The King to Lord North, Nov 18, 1774 “the People are ripe for mischief…” Correspondence of King George III, 154. (R, 134)
Sources, Declaration and Resolves of the Continental Congress and Association: Sources, 118-125.


10/29   The Pro-American Opposition in Britain

Reader: Lord Mayor (Wilkes) speech re taxation of America, Feb 6, 1774, Proceedings and Debates of the British Parliaments Respecting North             America, 1754-1783, V, 365-368.
Mrs. Catherine Macaulay, “Address to the People of England, Scotland and Ireland on the Present Important Crisis of Affairs.” Spirit, 250-251.
Edmund Burke’s speech to Parliament, “Speech on Conciliation with America,” March 22, 1775, Burke, III, 102-169
Mercy Warren to Catherine Macaulay, August 24, 1775, Boisterous, 176-     178



10/31 Sparks of War: Lexington and Concord & the Battle of Bunker Hill

Wood, “Constitution Making and War” 65-90
Sources, Declaration of Causes of Taking Up Arms,  July 6, 1775: 141-145
Joseph Warren to Arthur Lee, Feb 29, 1775; April 3, 1775; Sources, 139-141.
Patrick Henry speech, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”: Schmittroth, 89-96.
British accounts of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, Spirit, 129-136.
Abigail Adams à ß John Adams: June 16, 1775- July 7, 1775: Adams Family Correspondence, 217-220; 222-224; 225-227; 230-233; 238-240; 241-243
King George III: Proclamation of Rebellion, August 23, 1775, Spirit, 281.
King George III, Speech opening Parliament, October 26, 1775, Proceedings VI: 69-70.

The Battle of Bunker Hill: June 17, 1775: slide presentation


Republican Independence

11/5  Republicanism

Wood, Republicanism, 91-109
Sources, Franklin to Galloway, 137-8 (corruption of Britain)
Reader: Nathan Hale, Spirit, 476
Phillis Wheatley, “To His Excellency General Washington”, Gunn, 568-569.
Thomas Paine: Common Sense, Penguin, 61-71; 81-100
John F. Kennedy's words at is Inauguration: audio

Resources: Republicanism: slide presentation

11/7  Video Presentation and passing out mid-term study sheet   

Video presentation: Liberty: the American Revolution


11/12    Mid-term

Mid-term: matching, passage identification, and one short essay question.
Midterm Study Sheet

11/ 14 Declaring Independence

Sources, Declaration of Independence, 157-161

11/19   War: the Battle of Saratoga

Reader: Paine, The Crisis, Number 1, Writings of AR, 238-246. (handout)
The Battles of Saratoga
Journal of William Digby of Burgoyne’s army: Jane McCrea:          Burgoyne – Gates exchange, Writings, 314-317.
Freeman’s Farm: Digby, Writings, 320-326; Atlas, #16, 46-47
Bemis Hights Digby, Writings, 326-333; Atlas, #18, 50-51
Washington Resigns His Commission to the Continental Congress: Dec. 23, 1783, Writings, 793-797.

Saratoga: Slide Presentation

11/21 American Revolution as popular movement

Susanna Rawson, Charlotte Temple


11/26 Charlotte Temple and the Trial of Virtue

2nd Paper due: 11/26
Write a 4-page paper upon one of the following topics. Be sure to develop a clearly focused thesis for your paper, and state the thesis somewhere in the first paragraph. Each paragraph of the paper should contribute to a careful development of that thesis.

Suggested topics:
Deception and Self-Deception in Charlotte Temple
Charlotte Temple and the Trial of Virtue
Edmund Burke's rendering of the colonists of British America (In his speech advocating conciliation with the American colonies. [Reader, 141-207])

“…A New Nation, Conceived in Liberty?”

12/3       Debate on the liberty and equality brought by the American Revolution   

Black Slavery and Liberty; American Victory and Indian Defeat
Wood, Republican Society, 113-135, especially 117-129 (as preparation for debate)
Sources: “Indian Diplomacy”, March 1768, 54-61.
Reader: Assigned reading: Massachusetts Slave Petition, Democracy Reader, 107-108.

We will divide into two teams and debate the proposition:
Resolved: The American Revolution advanced the liberty and equality of the peoples of British America.
The Great Contradition: Schedule of Debate

12/5  Constitution making and the Bill of Rights

The Federal Constitution, 292-304 (selections).
Amendments, I-X, “The Bill of Rights,” 363-364.

Assessing the American Revolution

12/12   4-7PM

FINAL EXAM: bring 2 blue books

Two synthetic essays (choosing from three)

Objective sections (there will be some overlap with the midterm here): handed out at 5 PM

  • dateline (putting key events of the Revolution in their correct order)
  • matching
  • passage identification
The Surrender at Saratoga: the greatest American Victory of the War



This page was composed by Professor William Warner. Last changed 4/2/02. This course is part of the Early Modern Center of the Department of English at UC /Santa Barbara.