PEOPLE

 

John Adams

.       Boston lawyer, then Federalist Party leader and second president of the United States

.       Helped draft Declaration of Independence

.       Unitarian, did not believe in divinity of Christ

.       Not very popular as president, but history has been kinder to him

 

Benjamin Franklin

.       Inventor, scientist, printer, politician, and diplomat

.       Helped draft both Declaration of Independence and Constitution

.       Champion of thrift and hard work

 

David Hume

.       Scottish philosopher and friend of Benjamin Franklin

.       Said men develop society on their own, from sensory impressions

.       Believed in rationality, not revelation, as foundation of human experience

.       Inspired the phrase "self-evident" truths (rational, not religious, in nature)

 

Thomas Jefferson

.       Virginia planter, then Republican Party leader and third president of the United States

.       Primary drafter of Declaration of Independence

.       Heavily influenced by philosophies of John Locke

 

King George III

.       King of England throughout Revolutionary period

.       Approved disastrous policies such as Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, Intolerable Acts, etc.

.       Oversaw the loss of the American colonies

 


John Locke

.       English philosopher, believed in empiricism and reason

.       Said all people are born equal and people are shaped by their environment

.       Developed notion of the natural rights of man

.       Influenced thinking of Founding Fathers

 

Thomas Paine

.       British-born author of Common Sense, the most influential pamphlet in turning American public opinion in favor of independence

.       Was an atheist; his attacks on religion later made him object of scorn in America

Daniel Shays

.       Revolutionary War captain

.       Led attack of 1,200 farmers against Massachusetts arsenal in protest against heavy taxes and debts imposed on ordinary people, 1786-87

.       Shays's Rebellion convinced many of the need for stronger national government

 

George Washington

.       Virginia planter, Revolutionary War general, and first president of the United States

.       Established democratic norms for American presidency

.       More important as stabilizing force than as an original thinker

 

 

EVENTS

 

1776 Publication of Common Sense

.       Thomas Paine's pamphlet suggested that colonists' rights had been violated and independence was only solution

.       Thousands of copies sold in the first days of publication in January

.       Hugely influential in pushing colonists toward independence

 


1776 Declaration of Independence

.       Continental Congress adopted Jefferson's text, announcing freedom from British rule

.       Armed conflict of Revolutionary War had already begun a year earlier at Lexington and Concord

 

1781 Articles of Confederation Ratified

.       First national government designed with weak central authority to prevent development of anything similar to British tyranny

.       Events like Shays's Rebellion convinced many that stronger national government was needed

 

1786 Virginia Statue of Religious

Freedom

.       Law pushed forward by Madison and Jefferson to ban established churches in Virginia

.       Established legal principle of religious freedom later incorporated into Bill of Rights

 

 

GROUPS

 

Radical Whigs

.       British parliamentary faction that despised bribery and patronage

.       Suggested that arbitrary power of monarch and ministers infringed on personal liberty

.       Writings influenced American colonists as they moved toward independence

 

Tories

.       Loyalist American colonists had strong economic ties with Britain, opposed independence

.       South Carolina and New York were Tory strongholds in America

 

 


CONCEPTS

 

"Power"

.       In eighteenth-century conception, power led to corruption

.       Considered the opposite of liberty

.       King George III was seen as an example of the way power corrupted 

.       Fear of power produced deliberately weak Articles of Confederation

 

Republicanism

.       Ideology of government in which authority derives from consent of the people

.       Success of system depended on virtue of its citizens

.       Republican citizens were property-owners willing to subordinate their own interests to that of the community as a whole

 

Deism

.       Spiritual faith shared by many of the Founding Fathers, most famously by Jefferson

.       Believed that God created the universe and then did not interfere

.       Intensely personal and rational, opposed organized and emotional religion

 

Salutary Neglect

.       English stance toward colonies from 1676 to 1763, allowed colonies essentially to govern themselves

.       Enforcement of strict trade regulations such as Navigation Acts generally avoided, allowing smuggling to become rampant and allowing independent economic growth in colonies

.       After French & Indian War, British attitudes changed and Parliament reasserted its right to tax and regulate colonies, leading to conflict

 

 

PLACES

 

Springfield, Massachusetts

.       Site of armory unsuccessfully attacked by Daniel Shays's ragtag band of insurgents during Shays's Rebellion, 1786-87