The Making of a Gentleman (Sons of the Revolution)

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Report broken link. American History 1. The Iroquois Tribes 2. The House of Burgesses 3. Witchcraft in Salem 4. The Ideas of Benjamin Franklin 5.


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Life in the Plantation South 6. A New African-American Culture 7. The Treaty of Paris and Its Impact 9. The Intolerable Acts The Declaration of Independence Yorktown and the Treaty of Paris When Does the Revolution End? The Age of Atlantic Revolutions The Economic Crisis of the s Constitution Through Compromise The Antifederalists' Victory in Defeat Native American Resilience and Violence in the West The Life and Times of John Adams Jeffersonian America: A Second Revolution? Gabriel's Rebellion: Another View of Virginia in Claiming Victory from Defeat Early National Arts and Cultural Independence Jacksonian Democracy and Modern America Jackson vs.

Irish and German Immigration Transcendentalism, An American Philosophy The Southern Argument for Slavery Gold in California The Compromise of Preston Brooks and Charles Sumner The South Secedes Strengths and Weaknesses: North vs.

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The Road to Appomattox The Assassination of the President Rebuilding the Old Order The New Tycoons: John D. The New Tycoons: J.

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Politics of the Gilded Age Labor vs. Eugene V. Debs and American Socialism Artistic and Literary Trends The Print Revolution The Wounded Knee Massacre The Election of Booker T. DuBois Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom The Panama Canal The Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations Fads and Heroes Old Values vs. Domestic and International Politics Social and Cultural Effects of the Depression An Evaluation of the New Deal Pearl Harbor The Decision to Drop the Bomb Domestic Challenges Voices against Conformity Separate No Longer? Martin Luther King Jr.

Black Power Years of Withdrawal Triangular Diplomacy: U. Roe v. Flower Power The New Right It needed revenues to pay for the war, and looked to the colonies for that. Also, the colonial trade had become more and more important to the British economy, and more profitable: it had amounted to about , pounds in but by was worth 2,, pounds.

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So, the American leadership was less in need of English rule, the English more in need of the colonists' wealth. The elements were there for conflict. The war had brought glory for the generals, death to the privates, wealth for the merchants, unemployment for the poor. There were 25, people living in New York there had been 7, in when the French and Indian War ended.

A newspaper editor wrote about the growing "Number of Beggers and wandering Poor" in the streets of the city. Letters in the papers questioned the distribution of wealth: "How often have our Streets been covered with Thousands of Barrels of Flour for trade, while our near Neighbors can hardly procure enough to make a Dumplin to satisfy hunger? In Philadelphia and New York too, wealth was more and more concentrated. In Boston, the lower classes began to use the town meeting to vent their grievances. The governor of Massachusetts had written that in these town meetings "the meanest Inhabitants What seems to have happened in Boston is that certain lawyers, editors, and merchants of the upper classes, but excluded from the ruling circles close to England-men like James Otis and Samuel Adams- organized a "Boston Caucus" and through their oratory and their writing "molded laboring- class opinion, called the 'mob' into action, and shaped its behaviour.

We have here a forecast of the long history of American politics, the mobilization of lower-class energy by upper-class politicians, for their own purposes. This was not purely deception; it involved, in part, a genuine recognition of lower-class grievances, which helps to account for its effectiveness as a tactic over the centuries. As Nash puts it:.

In , Otis, speaking against the conservative rulers of the Massachusetts colony represented by Thomas Hutchinson, gave an example of the kind of rhetoric that a lawyer could use in mobilizing city mechanics and artisans:. Boston seems to have been full of class anger in those days. In , in the Boston Gazette , someone wrote that "a few persons in power" were promoting political projects "for keeping the people poor in order to make them humble.

This accumulated sense of grievance against the rich in Boston may account for the explosiveness of mob action after the Stamp Act of , Through this Act, the British were taxing the colonial population to pay for the French war, in which colonists had suffered to expand the British Empire. That summer, a shoemaker named Ebenezer Macintosh led a mob in destroying the house of a rich Boston merchant named Andrew Oliver.

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Two weeks later, the crowd turned to the home of Thomas Hutchinson, symbol of the rich elite who ruled the colonies in the name of England. They smashed up his house with axes, drank the wine in his wine cellar, and looted the house of its furniture and other objects. A report by colony officials to England said that this was part of a larger scheme in which the houses of fifteen rich people were to be destroyed, as pan of "a War of Plunder, of general levelling and taking away the Distinction of rich and poor.

It was one of those moments in which fury against the rich went further than leaders like Otis wanted. Could class hatred be focused against the pro-British elite, and deflected from the nationalist elite? In New York, that same year of the Boston house attacks, someone wrote to the New York Gazette, "Is it equitable that 99, rather , should suffer for the Extravagance or Grandeur of one, especially when it is considered that men frequently owe their Wealth to the impoverishment of their Neighbors?

Mechanics were demanding political democracy in the colonial cities: open meetings of representative assemblies, public galleries in the legislative halls, and the publishing of roll-call votes, so that constituents could check on representatives. They wanted open-air meetings where the population could participate in making policy, more equitable taxes, price controls, and the election of mechanics and other ordinary people to government posts.

Especially in Philadelphia, according to Nash, the consciousness of the lower middle classes grew to the point where it must have caused some hard thinking, not just among the conservative Loyalists sympathetic to England, but even among leaders of the Revolution. During elections for the convention to frame a constitution for Pennsylvania, a Privates Committee urged voters to oppose "great and overgrown rich men.. In the countryside, where most people lived, there was a similar conflict of poor against rich, one which political leaders would use to mobilize the population against England, granting some benefits for the rebellious poor, and many more for themselves in the process.

The tenant riots in New Jersey in the s, the New York tenant uprisings of the s and s in the Hudson Valley, and the rebellion in northeastern New York that led to the carving of Vermont out of New York State were all more than sporadic rioting. They were long-lasting social movements, highly organized, involving the creation of countergovernments. They were aimed at a handful of rich landlords, but with the landlords far away, they often had to direct their anger against farmers who had leased the disputed land from the owners.

See Edward Countryman's pioneering work on rural rebellion. Just as the Jersey rebels had broken into jails to free their friends, rioters in the Hudson Valley rescued prisoners from the sheriff and one time took the sheriff himself as prisoner. The tenants were seen as "chiefly the dregs of the People," and the posse that the sheriff of Albany County led to Bennington in included the privileged top of the local power structure. The land rioters saw their battle as poor against rich. A witness at a rebel leader's trial in New York in said that the farmers evicted by the landlords "had an equitable Tide but could not be defended in a Course of Law because they were poor and.

Land-hungry farmers in the Hudson Valley turned to the British for support against the American landlords; the Green Mountain rebels did the same. But as the conflict with Britain intensified, the colonial leaders of the movement for independence, aware of the tendency of poor tenants to side with the British in their anger against the rich, adopted policies to win over people in the countryside. In North Carolina, a powerful movement of white farmers was organized against wealthy and corrupt officials in the period from to , exactly those years when, in the cities of the Northeast, agitation was growing against the British, crowding out class issues.

Michael Kay, a specialist in the history of that movement, of "class-conscious white farmers in the west who attempted to democratize local government in their respective counties. The Regulators saw that a combination of wealth and political power ruled North Carolina, and denounced those officials "whose highest Study is the promotion of their wealth.

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In the western counties where the movement developed, only a small percentage of the households had slaves, and 41 percent of these were concentrated, to take one sample western county, in less than 2 percent of the households. The Regulators did not represent servants or slaves, but they did speak for small owners, squatters, and tenants. In that county in the s, the Regulators organized to prevent the collection of taxes, or the confiscation of the property of tax delinquents.

Officials said "an absolute Insurrection of a dangerous tendency has broke out in Orange County," and made military plans to suppress it.

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At one point seven hundred armed farmers forced the release of two arrested Regulator leaders. The Regulators petitioned the government on their grievances in , citing "the unequal chances the poor and the weak have in contentions with the rich and powerful. In another county, Anson, a local militia colonel complained of "the unparalleled tumults, Insurrections, and Commotions which at present distract this County.

But they also tried to elect farmers to the assembly, asserting "that a majority of our assembly is composed of Lawyers, Clerks, and others in Connection with them The result of all this was that the assembly passed some mild reform legislation, but also an act "to prevent riots and tumults," and the governor prepared to crush them militarily. In May of there was a decisive battle in which several thousand Regulators were defeated by a disciplined army using cannon. Six Regulators were hanged. Kay says that in the three western counties of Orange, Anson, and Rowan, where the Regulator movement was concentrated, it had the support of six thousand to seven thousand men out of a total white taxable population of about eight thousand.

One consequence of this bitter conflict is that only a minority of the people in the Regulator counties seem to have participated as patriots in the Revolutionary War. Most of them probably remained neutral. Fortunately for the Revolutionary movement, the key battles were being fought in the North, and here, in the cities, the colonial leaders had a divided white population; they could win over the mechanics, who were a kind of middle class, who had a stake in the fight against England, who faced competition from English manufacturers. The biggest problem was to keep the propertyless people, who were unemployed and hungry in the crisis following the French war, under control.


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In Boston, the economic grievances of the lowest classes mingled with anger against the British and exploded in mob violence. The leaders of the Independence movement wanted to use that mob energy against England, but also to contain it so that it would not demand too much from them. Gage's comment suggests that leaders of the movement against the Stamp Act had instigated crowd action, but then became frightened by the thought that it might be directed against their wealth, too. At this time, the top 10 percent of Boston's taxpayers held about 66 percent of Boston's taxable wealth, while the lowest 30 percent of the taxpaying population had no taxable property at all.

The propertyless could not vote and so like blacks, women, Indians could not participate in town meetings.