Unit 3 Assignment Sheet


Assignment 1. Essay Conferences/Homework in Class

  • Bring your Unit 1 essays with my comments on them to class so that I can go over them individually with each one of you.
  • During class time work on Assignments 3 & 4 or on creating the timeline (described below) while I meet with your classmates. If you finish all of these, you can proceed to Assignment 5.
  • Begin creating an annotated timeline of the key events dating from the 1730s (but focusing in after 1763) to Independence. This should be completed by Assignment 7.

Assignment 2. Colonial Growth during the 18th Century

  • Read Nash, 92-100, 113-118, 122-127.

Questions to Consider:

  1. In what sense can the population of the colonies during the 18th century be considered diverse?
  2. To what extent had urban centers taken hold in the colonies? What impact did they have?
  3. Characterize the economy of each region of the British colonies.
  4. What did colonial society (social structure) look like by 1750?
    • How did the emergence of an artisan class affect the colonies?
  5. How did colonists benefit from being part of the British Empire?

Assignment 3. The Great Awakening

  • Alan Taylor, "Awakenings," American Colonies (Penguin, 2001), Chapter 15. [PDF]
  • Benjamin Franklin on George Whitefield from Franklin's Autobiography, 1771 [LINK]
  • Skim Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741. [PDF]
  • Nash, 118-122 for background

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are "establishments"?
  2. What was the Enlightenment in America?
  3. Who were the Old and New Lights?
  4. What was the Great Awakening?
  5. Why was there an “awakening” and why did it spread and intensify?
  6. Is Edwards' "Sinners..." just a rehash of old Puritan theology or does it represent something new?
  7. What role did George Whitefield play?
  8. How about Ben Franklin?
  9. How was the “awakening” different in the various parts of the colonies?
  10. How did the “awakening” impact different social groups?
  11. What was the impact of the Great Awakening?
  12. Is there a connection between the Great Awakening and the revolutionary outbursts that would take place 2 decades later?

Assignment 4. Imperial Wars

  • Alan Taylor, "Imperial Wars," American Colonies, Chapter 18. [PDF]
  • Benjamin Franklin, The Albany Plan of the Union, 1754. [LINK]
  • Benjamin Franklin comments on the Albany Plan. [LINK]
  • Nash 130-138 for background.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What was the significance of the War of Jenkins Ear?
  2. How did the colonists conceive of their relationship to the British during the mid-18th century?
  3. How did the British conceive of their relationship to the colonists?
  4. What was the Albany Plan of the Union? What is its significance?
  5. What role did Indians play during the mid-18th century?
  6. What were the causes of the Seven Years War?
  7. What role did George Washington play in it?
  8. Why did Great Britain win?
  9. What were the consequences of that victory?

Assignment 5. Paths to Revolution: Differing Interpretations 1 -- Neo-Whig

  • Bernard Bailyn, "Political Experience and Enlightenment Ideas in Eighteenth Century America," The American Historical Review, Vol. 67, No. 2. (Jan., 1962), pp. 339-351. [PDF]
  • Bernard Bailyn, "Forward," in The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1967), v-xi. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. According to Bailyn, in comparison to Europe, how accepted were the political and social ideas of the Enlightenment in colonial America? Why?
  2. What is the fundamental revision of early American history that Bailyn seeks to support in his essay? i.e. what was the older interpretation of the origins and consequences of the Revolution?
  3. What had the then new (1950s and early 1960s) scholarship revealed according to Bailyn about colonial society?
  4. On p 343, Bailyn talks about the role of ideas. What does he mean by this? How important were ideas in the colonies? Which ideas in particular? How were they transmitted?
  5. Bailyn argues that Enlightenment ideas meshed with the political experience in the British colonies. What examples does he use? Why does he believe that this is important?
  6. What does he mean that “None of this had resulted from Enlightenment theory”?
  7. What does Bailyn mean on p. 348: “[the] great goal of the European revolutions of the late eighteenth century, equality of status before the law—the abolition of legal privilege—had been reached almost everywhere in the American colonies at least by the early years of the eighteenth century”? How can we ascertain whether this claim is accurate or not?
  8. What do you make of Bailyn’s “Forward” to the Ideological Origins of the American Revolution? In what sense is it an extension of his previous arguments? In what sense does it represent a significant revision? Find the key sentence which serves as his thesis?

Assignment 6. Paths to Revolution: Differing Interpretations 2 -- Neo-Progressive

  • Gary Nash, "Social Change and the Growth of Prerevolutionary Urban Radicalism" in The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism, ed. Alfred Young (Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1976), 5-36. [PDF]
  • Documents on the Paxton Boys and the Regulators [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What’s particularly interesting about the bio of Nash that accompanies his article?
  2. In the 1960s Bailyn had identified an historiographical trend that he was arguing against. In the 1970s, Nash identified another historiographical trend that was prevalent. What was this trend?
  3. What is the purpose of Nash’s essay?
  4. What does Nash mean by “popular ideology”?
  5. What conclusion does Nash reach concerning the distribution of wealth in the colonies prior to the Revolution? What are some of the examples he uses?
  6. What was happening to the middle class according to NashWhat was happening to cities?
  7. How does Nash characterize protest in the in the colonies even before the 1754?
  8. To what extent did the Great Awakening have an impact on urban dwellers?
  9. What was the relationship between urban protest and the condition of people’s lives in the pre-revolutionary decades?
  10. What’s significant about Thomas Hutchinson and Bostonian’s attitude towards him?
  11. How does Nash understand the Stamp Act Crisis? (p. 27)
  12. Why does he believe that consensus historians have misunderstood pre-Revolutionary crowds?
  13. Why did no “proletariat” ideology emerge during this era?
  14. What’s the implication of Nash’s study?
  15. What do the examples of the Regulators and the Paxton Boys tell us about pre-Revolutionary protest? What would Nash make of these episodes?


Assignment 7. Paths to the Revolution: Differing Interpretations 3 -- Nationalism, Consumerism & Locke

  • T.H. Breen, “Ideology and Nationalism on the Eve of the American Revolution: Revisions Once More in Need of Revising,” Journal of American History, 84 (June 1997), 13-39. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What new historiographic literature does Breen base his study of revolutionary ideology upon? What insights does it provide?
  2. What was England like during the Georgian era; why is it important to characterize it accurately?
  3. What four new elements “influenced how the colonists imagined themselves within the Anglo-American world”?
  4. How did the developing military strength of Great Britain affect the colonists?
  5. How did the spread of a consumer-oriented economy affect the colonists?
  6. How did the creation of a self-conscious middle-class culture in Great Britain affect the colonists?
  7. How did the stirrings of nationalism in Britain affect the colonists?
  8. How did the language of race enter into British-American relations? Why is the use of that language significant?
  9. Why does Breen argue that the origins of the Revolution owe more to ideology of Lockean liberalism than to the ideology of civic republicanism? Why is this distinction important to understanding the Revolution?
  10. What would Nash and other neo-Progressives make of Breen’s argument?

Assignment 8. Interpreting the Revolution: The Events

  • Nash 119-124,126-127 [again], 138-150 [For the purposes of understanding the narrative leading up to the Revolution, you may want to read thoroughly. Pay attention the the events].
  • Misc. Primary Sources on the Stamp Act Crisis. [PDF]
  • George Hewes on the Boston Tea Party. [PDF]
  • Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774. [PDF]
  • The Continental Congress Creates the Association, 1774. [PDF]
  • Bring to class you're completed annotated chronology.
  • During class, each of you will be expected offer an interpretation of a key event that supports a particular historiographical approach.
  • You will also be asked to identify which event, in your opinion, was the watershed moment, in which there was a "point of no return."

Questions to Consider:

  1. What is Whig ideology?
  2. What is Republican ideology?
  3. What is the purpose of Nash's beginning the chapter with the story of Ebenezer MacIntosh? What historiographical intervention is he making?
  4. What were the key events leading to the Revolution?
  5. Was there a watershed moment?
  6. What could Britain have done differently?
  7. Why was there a transformation in the ideology of the colonists?