The American Revolution: Writings from the Pamphlet Debate, Vol. 2 1773-1776 (Library of America, Volume 266)

23 Nov

The American Revolution: Writings from the Pamphlet Debate, Vol. 2 1773-1776 (Library of America, Volume 266)

The American Revolution: Writings from the Pamphlet Debate, Vol. 2 1773-1776 (Library of America, Volume 266)

Language: English

Pages: 990

ISBN: 2:00345644

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


For the 250th anniversary of the start of the American Revolution, acclaimed historian Gordon S. Wood presents a landmark collection of British and American pamphlets from the political debate that divided an empire and created a nation:

In 1764, in the wake of its triumph in the Seven Years War, Great Britain possessed the largest and most powerful empire the world had seen since the fall of Rome and its North American colonists were justly proud of their vital place within this global colossus. Just twelve short years later the empire was in tatters, and the thirteen colonies proclaimed themselves the free and independent United States of America. In between, there occurred an extraordinary contest of words between American and Britons, and among Americans themselves, which addressed all of the most fundamental issues of politics: the nature of power, liberty, representation, rights and constitutions, and sovereignty. This debate was carried on largely in pamphlets and from the more than a thousand published on both sides of the Atlantic during the period Gordon S. Wood has selected thirty-nine of the most interesting and important to reveal as never before how this momentous revolution unfolded.

This second of two volumes follows the course of the ultimate crisis that led from the Boston Tea Party to the final break, as the focus of debate turns from questions of representation and rights to the crucial issue of sovereignty. Here is a young Thomas Jefferson offering his radical Summary View of the Rights of British America; Samuel Johnson pronouncing Taxation no Tyranny and asking "How is that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negros?"; Edmund Burke trying to hold the empire together in his famous Speech on Conciliation; and Thomas Paine turning the focus of American animus from Parliament to king in the truly revolutionary pamphlet Common Sense. The volume includes an introduction, headnotes, a chronology of events, biographical notes about the writers, and detailed explanatory notes, all prepared by our leading expert on the American Revolution. As a special feature, each pamphlet is preceded by a typographic reproduction of its original title page.

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counties among us, which have not complained of the burthen of their own poor. But what will they say, when the burthen comes to be encreased an hundred-fold, as it necessarily must, when a general non-importation and non-exportation take place; and all their wonted resources fail them at the same time. The want of the money, of which we have been lately drained, in order to pamper the Boston fanaticks, will then be severely felt: Nor can we expect any return of assistance in our distress from

motives which are undeniably evident in our respective pamphlets, decide which should be attended to most. The author of Common Sense is a violent stickler for Democracy or Republicanism only—every other species of government is reprobated by him as tyrannical: I plead for that constitution which has been formed by the wisdom of ages—is the admiration of mankind—is best adapted to the genius of Britons, and is most friendly to liberty. He takes pleasure in aggravating every circumstance of our

of, 406–7 Mining, 141 Minorca, 395, 744 Minority rights, 279 Mississippi River, 365, 443 Mohammed, 663 Mohawks, xx Molasses, 276, 281, 434, 777 Molasses Act (1733; 6 George II, chap. 13), xv, 94, 571, 776 Molyneux, William, 479 Monarchy, 153, 556, 714; absolute, 79–81, 124–25, 657, 665, 718, 721, 753, 798; absolute power of, 164–65, 194, 406; abuse of power by, 648, 651, 656–58, 666, 675, 703, 710, 720–21, 723, 753; allegiance to, 82, 185, 225, 294, 418–20, 425–26, 603–6, 627–28, 639,

of the British public. Their own blood was spilt in acquiring lands for their settlement, their own fortunes expended in making that settlement effectual; for themselves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for themselves alone they have right to hold. Not a shilling was ever issued from the public treasures of his majesty, or his ancestors, for their assistance, till of very late times, after the colonies had become established on a firm and permanent footing. That then, indeed,

apprehension, to those future scenes of woe, which, in all probability, will open upon their descendants. What has been already advanced, will suffice to shew, that it is repugnant to the essential maxims of jurisprudence, to the ultimate end of all governments, to the genius of the British constitution, and to the liberty and happiness of the Colonies, that they should be bound by the legislative authority of the Parliament of Great-Britain. Such a doctrine is not less repugnant to the voice of

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