American History

People’s history of United States

1)The Stamp Act Declaration illustrates that the colonists in no way, shape, or form believed that their rights derived from their identity as Englishmen. – False

2)Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” which was written in clear, easy-to-read prose, encouraged Americans to take up the patriot cause and join the revolt against the British. – True

3)Thomas Paine systematically refuted arguments that were made as to why the colonies should remain loyal to the mother country. – True

4)The Declaration of Independence explained that the colonists had long suffered and were not taking the revolt against the mother country lightly; in addition, the Declaration detailed all of the abuses that the colonists had suffered at the hands of Britain. – True

5)The Stamp Act Declaration was respectful and simply requested that the king respect the traditional rights of the colonists; in this vein it was a conservative document. The Declaration of Independence, on the other hand, can be considered a radical document. – True

What do the Stamp Act Declaration, the Declaration of Independence, and Tom Paine’s “Common Sense” tell us about the origins of the American Revolution? Was the rift between the colonists and the mother initially somewhat conservative in nature, and then did it grow increasingly radical? 

The overwhelming taxes which were imposed, according to the Stamp Act Declaration, without the consent of elected representatives of the Colonies, initiated the break between colonies and the empire. In the Stamp Act declaration, however, the colonists demanded that their rights as Subjects of the British Empire, and as Englishmen, be respected.  In this document, in which colonists admit the legitimacy of the Emperor’s rule and declare themselves “devoted with the warmest sentiments of affection and duty to his Majesty’s person and Government”(p.1), there was no hint of the radical shift which was to occur.

The government however rejected their demands and sent troops to end the colonists’ rebellion. Confronted with this response, the colonists began to analyze their own status, and began to understand that the British Empire needs them more than they need the Empire. Their uncertainties related to their moral right to separate from the motherland and their future were illustrated in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense”, in which the author encouraged ordinary people to join the rebellion and argued that they had no reason to be loyal to the Empire and furthermore, that they were to have a brighter future as a free nation.

This radical stand led to the Declaration of Independence, in which the newly formed Congress rejected the Empire’s rule for being tyrannical. In their enumeration of the numerous abuses of the British government, one may easily perceive a completely opposed attitude as compared with the Stamp Act Declaration. Having been betrayed by the British Empire in which they had put their trust, the Colonies quickly realized all the advantages of becoming independent and this inevitably led to war.