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Chapter 5 - Summary Give Me Liberty!: an American History

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James Moore
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First major split between colonists and Great Britain

o Colonists invoked the rights of the freeborn Englishman

Drew on established British principle that community should not be taxed except by elected reps.

Liberty could not be secure where property was taken away without consent

Taxation and Representation

Liberty = right to govern own affairs

o Believed by colonists in North America and British outposts in India, West Indies, Canada

British government + appointed reps. in America saw empire as a system of unequal parts

o Different principles for different areas

o All subjected to authority of Parliament

o Surrendering the right to tax colonists = danger

“No taxation without representation”: The rallying cry of opponents to the 1765 Stamp Act; the slogan decried the

colonists lack of representation in Parliament

o No rep. in House of Commons [elected body of Parliament, not the House of Lords (inherited elite seat)]

Virginia House of Burgesses approved resolutions offered by public speaker Patrick Henry

o 1. Colonists enjoyed the same “liberties, privileges, franchises, and immunities” as mother county residents

o 2. “British freedom” = right to consent to taxation

1765, Stamp Act Congress: 27 delegates from the 9 colonies met in New York and endorsed Virginia’s position

o Affirmed “allegiance” to crown and “due subordination” to Parliament

o Insisted the right to consent to taxation was “essential to the freedom of people”

o Merchants agreed to boycott British goods until Parliament repealed Stamp Act

By seeking to impose uniformity on the colonies rather than dealing with them individually, Parliament had

inadvertently united America

Liberty and Resistance

Liberty Tree: large elm tree in Boston that protestors hanged an effigy (sculpture of a person) of stamp distributor

Andrew Oliver to persuade him to resign his post

Committee of Correspondence: Boston group organized by Samuel Adams in retaliation for the Gaspee incident to

address American grievances, assert American rights, and form a network of rebellion

o Communicated with other colonies to encourage opposition of Sugar and Currency Acts

o Similar committees rose in response to the Stamp Act

Opponents to Stamp Act didn’t rely solely on debate

o Forced stamp administers to resign

o Destroyed shipments of stamps

Sons of Liberty: Organization of New York city residents; formed by Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and other radicals

in response to the Stamp Act

o Led in protest processions

o Posted notices reading “Liberty, Property, and No Stamps”

o Took lead in enforcing the boycott of British imports

1766, Parliament repealed Stamp Act

o London merchants and manufacturers did not want to lose American markets

o Established Declaratory Act: Rejection of American’s claims that only their elected reps. could levy taxes

Power to pass laws for “the colonies and people of America . . . in all cases whatsoever”

The Regulators

Liberty = secure possession of land

Regulators: groups of wealthy backcountry South Carolina settlers who protested colonial policies

o Protested underrepresentation of western settlements in colony assembly

2

o Protested legislature’s failure to establish local governments that could regularize land titles and

suppress bands outlaws
North Carolina complaints: corrupt county authorities (not lack of government like South Carolina)
o Mobilized (armed / prepared for battle) small farmers
o Refused to pay taxes
o Kidnapped local officials
o Assaulted homes of land speculators, merchants, and lawyers
o Disrupted court proceedings
o Demanded democratization of local government
o Condemned the “rich and powerful” (colony elite) who used political authority to prosper at the expense of
“poor industrious” farmers
1771, Regulators were suppressed by colon’s militia in the “Battle of Alamance”
Colonial elite feared opposition of British measures might unleash turmoil at home
o more reluctant to challenge British authority in next imperial crisis

 

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Chapter 5 - Summary Give Me Liberty!: an American History

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