Liberty was at the heart of the debates that circulated in the 12 year period before hostilities broke out between Great Britain and British America. Your textbook is called “Give Me Liberty,” and Foner has been intent on mapping out the many definitions of liberty with each decade, with each group and proclamation and rebellion.
For this discussion, please read the entire assignment before beginning. Also, be sure that you have read the chapter assigned for this week.
Start by watching the first part of an award-winning PBS video. It is 53 minutes long (no commericals!) and can be watched by clicking.
As you watch the video, question everything. Many of the events mentioned in it are treated by Foner, but in each case there is a difference of emphasis. Be alert also to what is left out of the video.
As you view it, keep the following questions in mind and seek to answer them. At all times, compare what you see there with your textbook:
- What reasons are given for the intensification of the conflict between Great Britain and the 13 colonies? List and discuss 3 of these. Why couldn’t these differences be resolved?
- Classify these reasons: are they long or short-term? Are the culprits humans, institutions, deep-lying economic trends and expectations? How well do these reasons in the video agree with what Foner states in the textbook? Where do they part company, and why?
- This video, as the host says at the start, is about Power. Using the video and the textbook, what was the power due and appropriate for government in the period from 1763 to 1783 and what powers were not appropriate or “illegal”? What was the proper role of government? In answering this question, answer it from the point of view of the following groups of colonists: 1.) to a rich Virginian planter 2.) a free black man working the wharves of New York City? 3.) a New England farmer? 4.) a Philadelphia merchant whose ships carried rum from Barbados to the colonies and Europe. Give your answer to each of these figures, identifying them and discussing at some length why they probably viewed the situation as they did. Use the textbook as well to create your answer.