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The American Revolution Quotes

They Said It

"[The passage of the Sugar Act] set people a thinking, in six months, more than they had done in their whole lives before."

- James Otis, a colonial assemblyman from Boston, 1764177
"96. The people of North America, at this time, expect a revisal and reformation of the American Governments, and are better disposed to submit to it than ever they were, or perhaps ever will be again.97. This is therefore the proper and critical time to reform the American governments upon a general, constitutional, firm, and durable plan; and if it is not done now, it will probably every day grow more difficult, till at last it becomes impracticable."

- Francis Bernard, Governor of [colonial] Massachusetts, in the last two of his 97 propositions submitted to the Ministry in England, 1765178
"We are sprung from one common Mother, we were all born in this big Island; we earnestly wish to repose under the same Tree of Peace with you; we request to live in Friendship with all the Indians in the Woods...We call God to Witness, that we desire nothing more ardently than that the white & red Inhabitants of this big Island should cultivate the most Brotherly affection, & be united in the firmest bands of Love & friendship."

- American Commissioners for Indian Affairs to Delawares, Senecas, Munsees, and Mingos, Pittsburgh, 1776)179
The signatories' "hopes have been raised and confirmed by the declarations...with regard to equal liberty...[and] that having long groaned under the burden of ecclesiastical establishment [the established Church of England in Virginia], they pray that this, as well as every other yoke, may be broken and that the oppressed may go free.

- Signatories of the "ten-thousand name" petition, circulated by the Baptists, submitted to Virginia's first House of Delegates in the fall of 1776180
"I wish this cursed place was burned.

- General Thomas Gage, commander in chief of British forces in America and the last Royal Governor of Massachusetts, writing about Boston in 1775181
"Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages."

- George Washington, August 1775182
"The house shakes...with the roar of the cannon. No sleep for me tonight."

- Abigail Adams, writing during the colonists' bombardment of British-held Boston, at midnight on 2 March 1776183
"We boast of our freedom, and we have your example for it. We talk the language we have always heard you speak."

- Samuel Adams to his fellow Englishmen across the Atlantic, in 1767184
"Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy sideThy every action let the goddess guide."

- Phillis Wheatley, the first published black poet and the first female black poet in North America, to George Washington in 1776; Washington replied by thanking Wheatley "most sincerely" and commenting on her "great poetical talents," commenting that if she should ever come to Cambridge, he would be "happy to see a person so favored by the muses"185
"Captain Preston, what made you go to the Concord Fight [on 19 April 1775]?""What did I go for?" "...Were you oppressed by the Stamp Act?" "I never saw any stamps, and I always understood that none were ever sold." "Well, what about the tea tax? "Tea tax, I never drank a drop of the stuff, the boys threw it all overboard." "But I suppose you have been reading Harrington, Sidney, and Locke about the eternal principle of liberty?" "I never heard of these men. The only books we had were the Bible, the Catechism, Watts' psalms and hymns and the almanacs." "Well, then, what was the matter?" "Young man, what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves and we always meant to. They didn't mean we should."

- Captain Levi Preston of Danvers, Massachusetts, interviewed about his participation in the first battle of the American Revolution many years later, at the age of 91, around 1843186

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