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Unified Paragraph: Voices of Revolution

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Jacob Orban

Unified Paragraph: Voices of Revolution

        In the pre-revolutionary period (1765 – 1776), incendiary voices, to a great extent, propelled the colonists towards revolution.  These incendiary voices shaped the minds of the colonists through speeches and publications of pamphlets.  The actions of the British government, through several acts, provided the ammunition for Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry as well as others, to rally the colonists to revolt.  On March 22, 1765, the British Parliament enacted the Stamp Act to which the colonies quickly expressed their discontent.  Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry seized the opportunity to create the Sons of Liberty, a group that carried out demonstrations and protests.  The Stamp Act also brought about the first united colonial action against British rule, the Stamp Act Congress.  In a meeting that included nine colonies, a declaration of rights and grievances was written to the King of England.  The twenty-seven delegates deemed the Stamp Act to have, “a manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonies.”  The concept of colonial liberty became the central idea for complete independence rather than parliamentary representation.  Of course, convincing the entire colonial population to fight for home rule would be challenging.  However, the British Parliament aided the effort by issuing further laws onto the colonies.  A series of measures known as the Townshend Acts (1767) placed duties on the importation of glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea to boost trade revenue.  The citizens of Boston would not stand for the tax and drafted the Boston Non–Importation Agreement on August 1, 1768.  The document read, “We will not, from and after January 1, 1769, import into the province any tea, paper, glass, or painters’ colours, until the Acts imposing duties on these articles are repealed.”  The agreement was a clear representation of the colonists not standing for “taxation without representation.”  The Parliament was not solely at fault for inciting the wrath of the colonies.  On March 5, 1770, five Bostonians were killed in a brawl with Royal soldiers.  Voices for revolution called the event, as it is remembered in history, the Boston Massacre.  Paul Revere depicted the incident as an organized killing by the Royal soldiers in a published engraving.  Resistance to unitary British rule would require a concerted colonial effort; a reality made possible by the Committees of Correspondence.  Established at the urging of Samuel Adams, these meetings allowed colonists to communicate ideas and happenings to other areas.  News of the Tea Act (1773) spread quickly through the colonies.  The act gave the British East India Company a monopoly on tea imports into the colonies, in order to rid the company of its surplus crops.  To the colonists, the Tea Act was a blatant abuse of power.  In retaliation, a group of colonists, including Samuel Adams, unloaded 347 chests of British tea into the Boston Harbor.  As news of the Boston Tea Party spread, it served to illustrate how the actions of a few could inspire the masses.  A war for independence was on the horizon, and the passing of the Intolerable Acts added yet more gun powder to colonies primed to explode.  From March to June of 1774, the Crown shut down the port of Boston, replaced the governor of Massachusetts, provided religious protection for Catholics, and expanded the Quartering Act.  Religion and colonial liberty was undermined; it would be the end of the colonists’ patience.  On September 5, 1774 the First Continental Congress convened to organize resistance to British Rule.  Not all the delegates were committed to complete separation from Britain, thus the role of incendiary voices.  Patrick Henry was a skilled orator and delivered an impactful speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses.  On March 23, 1775, he declared, “The war has already begun . . . our brethren are already in the field!”  Thomas Paine composed a prominent pamphlet entitled Common Sense in which he took a similar stance writing, “Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”  By referring to government at its worst state as “intolerable” Paine forms a rational backdrop against which it is easy to argue for complete separation from Britain.  The words and actions of incendiary voices provided the spark to ignite the colonies into a fight for independence.

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