Revolutionary Documents

Letters, Legislation,
Acts, Congress & Documents

The Proclamation of 1763

Author: King George III Date:1763 Annotation: In 1773, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) published a brief history of the British government’s actions during the preceding decade. Its…

Sugar Act

Date: 1764 Annotation: To maintain the army and repay war debts, Parliament decided to impose charges on colonial trade. It passed the Sugar Act, imposed…

Currency Act of 1764

Date:1764 Annotation: The Currency Act prohibited colonial governments from issuing paper money and required all taxes and debts to British merchants to be paid in British…

Quartering Act

Date:1765 Annotation: Parliament approved the Quartering Act, requiring colonial governments to put up British soldiers in unoccupied buildings and provide them with candles, bedding, and beverages….

A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law

Annotation: This dissertation, written by John Adams, included one of the first arguments to make informed citizens become a check for government. Document: “Ignorance and inconsideration are…

Stamp Act

Date:1765 Annotation: To increase revenues to pay the cost of militarily defending the colonies, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a tax stamp on legal…

The Stamp Act Crisis

Author:   Archibald Hinschelwood Date:1765 Annotation: Eleven years before the Declaration of Independence, a crisis took place that defined the issue that would help provoke…

Resolutions on the Stamp Act

Date:1765 Annotation: Resolutions on the Stamp Act, Massachusetts Assembly Document: WHEREAS the just rights of his majesty’s subjects of this province, derived to them from the British…

Benjamin Franklin and the Stamp Act Crisis

Author:   Benjamin Franklin Date:1766 Annotation: His is one of the most remarkable success stories in American history. The eighteenth child of a Boston candlemaker…

Declaratory Act

Date:1766 Annotation: The Declaratory Act of 1766stated that the British Parliament’s taxing authority was the same in America as in Great Britain. Document: An act for the…

Townshend Act

Date:1767 Annotation: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, imposed new duties on imports of glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea to the colonies. The Townshend Acts…

Bostonians Protest the Townshend Acts

Author:   John Hancock Date:1768 Annotation: Based in part on Benjamin Franklin’s arguments before Parliament, Charles Townshend (1725-1767), the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, believed…

North Carolina Regulators

Date:1769 Annotation: The North Carolina Regulators was a popular movement in the 1760s that challenged the colonial government, the powerful landowners, and the officials that dominated…

Account of the Boston Massacre

Date:1770 Annotation: On March 5, 1770, a 16-year-old barber’s apprentice named Edward Garrick insulted Hugh White, a soldier of the 29th Regiment on sentry duty in…

The Boston Massacre

Author:   Deacon John Tudor Date:1770 Annotation: By the beginning of 1770 there were four thousand British soldiers in Boston, a seaport with only 15,000…

Account of the Boston Massacre

Date:1770 Annotation: The leader of the British 29th regiment, Preston was defended by John Adams for his role in the massacre and was acquitted of all…

The Regulators

Author:   Richard H. Lee Date:1771 Annotation: Even as tension between the colonies and Britain was rising, disputes among colonists continued. In western North Carolina,…

Boston Tea Party

Author:   George Robert Twelve Hewes Date:1773 Annotation: George Robert Twelve Hewes, a Boston shoemaker who later fought in the Revolution as a common soldier and…

Tea Act

Date:1773 Annotation: Parliament passed the Tea Act that authorized the East India Company to bypass American wholesalers and sell tea directly to American distributors. Cutting out…

The Boston Tea Party

Author:   John Easson Date:1773 Annotation: A Bostonian named John Andrews (1764-1845) offered the following account of the Tea Party. “A general muster was assembled,…

Administration of Justice Act

Date:1774 Annotation: The Administration of Justice Act of 1774 Document: An act for the impartial administration of justice in the cases of persons questioned for any acts…

An Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec

Date:1774 Annotation: The Continental Congress in 1774 made an address to the Inhabitants of Quebec. This address encouraged inhabitants to resist English threats that went against…

Boston Port Act

Date:1774 Annotation: Parliament passed the Boston Port Act in hopes to regain control of an unruly Massachusetts. The act closed the ports in Boston until the…

Massachusetts Government Act

Date:1774 Annotation: The Massachusetts Government Act put the election of most government officials under the control of the Crown, basically removing the Massachusetts charter of government….

Quartering Act of 1774

Date:1774 Annotation: Established June 2, 1774, the Quartering Act of 1774 was similar to the Quartering Act of 1765. This act allowed troops to be quartered…

Quebec Act

Date:1774 Annotation: The Quebec Act enlarged French Quebec to cover the area as far west as the Mississippi River and as far south as the Ohio…

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Author:   Patrick Henry Date:1775 Annotation: A speech made by Patrick Henry to the Virginia House of Burgesses in order to raise support for the American…

The Battles of Lexington and Concord

Author:   Isaac Merrill Date:1775 Annotation: In February 1775, Parliament declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. This declaration permitted soldiers to shoot…

Thomas Gage’s 1775 Offer of Amnesty

Author:   Thomas Gage and Laurence Fishburne Date:1775 Annotation: In British eyes, the Revolution was the work of a small group demagogues and radicals who…

The Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

Author:   Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson Date:1775 Annotation: This was prepared by the Second Continental Congress to clarify why the British colonies had taken up…

Olive Branch Petition

Date:1775 Annotation: Two copies of this petition were sent to King George in hopes of settling amicably. But, King George would not accept the petition which…

Royal Proclamation of Rebellion

Date:1775 Annotation: This is a royal proclamation issued by George III, responding to increasing hostilities in the American colonies. Document: A Proclamation, by The King, for Suppressing…

Declaring Independence

Author:   Thomas Jefferson Date:1776 Annotation: More than a year past between the outbreak of fighting at the battles of Lexington and Concord and the…

Common Sense

Author:   Thomas Paine Date:1776 Annotation: John Adams called him “the first man of the Revolution.” Teddy Roosevelt called him a “filthy little atheist.” His name…

The Resolutions and Recommendations of Congress

Date:1776 Annotation: The Resolutions and Recommendations of Congress. Document: Continental Congress May 10-15, 1776 Friday, May 10, 1776 A letter of the 7, from General Washington, and…

Lee Resolution for Independence

Author:   Richard H. Lee Date:1776 Annotation: The Lee Resolution prompted by Richard Henry Lee was put forth June 7, 1776. Three parts of the resolution…

Virginia Constitution

Author:   George Mason Date:1776 Annotation: The Virginia Constitution, written by George Mason, is significant in that it was the first constitutions dividing the government into…

Virginia Declaration of Rights

Date:1776 Annotation: Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously June 12, 1776 at the Virginia Convention of Delegates. Drafted by Mr. George Mason. Document: I That all men…

The Declaration of Independence

Date:1776 Annotation: During the Spring of 1776, as the historian Pauline Maier has shown, colonies, localities, and groups of ordinary Americans–including New York mechanics, Pennsylvania…

Quakers Address the Problem of Slavery

Date:1776 Annotation: “How is it,” the English essayist Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) asked at the start of the Revolution, “that we hear the loudest yelps for…

Town Meeting Resolution

Date:1776 Annotation: Town Meeting Resolution, Concord, Massachusetts, 1776 Document: At a meeting of the Inhabitents of the Town of Concord being free and twenty one years of…

The American Crisis

Author:   Thomas Paine Date:1776 Annotation: Thomas Paine wrote this collection of articles to represent his support for the independence of America and also to describe…

Blaming Wartime Inflation on Loyalists

Author:   Josiah Bartlett Date:1777 Annotation: The Continental Congress faced serious problems financing the Revolution. Lacking the power to tax, Congress made assessments of the…

The Impact of the Revolution on the Homefront

Author: Lucy Knox Date: 1777 Annotation: Wartime conditions thrust new responsibilities upon American women. With many husbands absent, women assumed heightened responsibilities for managing family…

A Glimpse of San Antonio in 1778

Author:   Juan Agustin Morfi Date:1778 Annotation: In 1777 and 1778, a Franciscan father, Juan Agustín Morfi, traveled into northern New Spain, and offered the following…

Treaty of Alliance with France

Date:1778 Annotation: The Treaty of Alliance was a formal treaty with France that established cooperation against Great Britain. In this treaty, France officially recognized the United…

The War in the South

Author:   Henry Laurens Date:1780 Annotation: France’s entry into the Revolution in 1778 altered the entire nature of the conflict. No longer was the Revolution…

The Articles of Confederation

Author:   Edmund Pendleton Date:1780 Annotation: In 1781, the 13 original states ratified the first United States constitution, the Articles of Confederation. The Articles served…

Benedict Arnold’s Treason

Author:   Edmund Pendleton Date:1780 Annotation: Toward the end of 1780, morale within the Continental Army reached a low point. Troop strength fell to just…

The Peace Negotiations with Britain

Author:   Edmund Pendleton Date:1782 Annotation: Although Americans often treat their history in isolation from other countries’, in fact foreign events have played a shaping…

Treaty of Paris

Annotation: On September 3, 1783–Two years after the Revolutionary War–The United States of America was officially considered a free nation by Great Britain. Delegates from America…

African Americans and the Revolution

Author:   Peter Kiteridge Date:1806 Annotation: African American soldiers served with valor at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. In November 1775, however, Congress…