Professor Freeman concludes the discussion of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration was widely circulated and read aloud throughout the colonies. Professor Freeman argues that by 1775-1776, British and American citizens were operating under different assumptions about how the conflict between them could be resolved. The American colonists began to organize themselves for defensive measures against an aggressive British state. Meanwhile, the British assumed that the rebels were a minority group, and if they could suppress this radical minority through an impressive display of force, the rest of the colonists would submit to their governance again. Spring of 1775 saw the beginnings of military conflict between the British army and colonial militias, with fighting at Lexington, Concord, and Breed's Hill. As a result, the colonists began to seriously consider the need for independence, and the Continental Congress began the process of organizing a war.
Gross, The Minutemen and Their World
Brown, Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution, pp. 170-72, 180-88
The American Revolution entailed some remarkable transformations--converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause--but it was far more complex and enduring then the fighting of a war. As John Adams put it, "The Revolution was in the Minds of the people... before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington"--and it continued long past America's victory at Yorktown. This course will examine the Revolution from this broad perspective, tracing the participants' shifting sense of themselves as British subjects, colonial settlers, revolutionaries, and Americans.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.