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We grow up in America seeing the Revolution from the view of the Patriots. Yet, most Americans at the time were not Patriots. There are three goals in this assignment. First, it is an exercise in thinking about what it would have been like to live at a time in the past. Second, it is an exercise in looking at historical events from different views. All Americans were not Patriot Boston Liberty Boys. There was a great diversity in American society. Third, it is an exercise in thinking about motivation.
I: Read the American Revolution Historical Groups lecture notes. Use these notes to choose groups and to develop a character, motivation, and perspective.
II: From the American Revolution Historical Groups lecture notes, select 3 Historical Groups:
Select 1 Patriot Historical Group
Select 1 Moderate Historical Group
Select 1 Loyalist Historical Group
III: Write a total of 6 paragraphs (each about half a page double spaced). Taking on the role of a character from each of the three historical groups, write 2 paragraphs in each character role.
As a Patriot Historical Group character, A1) write a paragraph on why you are a Patriot and A2) write a paragraph trying to persuade a moderate to become a Patriot.
As a Moderate Historical Group character, B1) write a paragraph on why you are a Moderate and B2) write a paragraph (or two small paragraphs) trying to persuade two people not to join either side. One is thinking about becoming a Patriot and the other is thinking about becoming a Loyalist.
As a Loyalist Historical Group character, C1) write a paragraph on why you are a Loyalist and C2) write a paragraph trying to persuade a moderate to become a Loyalist.
IV: Motivation/Difference between the first and second paragraphs for each character
On the first paragraph for each character, on why you are a Patriot, Moderate, or Loyalist,
This can be personal and private. You could think of it as a diary entry or from a letter to a friend or member of your family.
This is where you can show your motivation.
In terms of your character, try to be honest.
On the paragraphs where you are trying to persuade a moderate or an undecided person,
This is public. You could think of it as a statement you are making out in public or a letter to the editor in a newspaper.
This is where you can argue. Say what you think you need to say to persuade a person to come over to your side. Here you can exaggerate and stretch the truth.
Depending on the role you choose there may need to be a sharp contrast between the two paragraphs. Something you can admit to yourself, family, and friends, you might not want to make public.
Examples of how there can be a similarity between the two paragraphs:
If you are a Congregational minister Patriot motivated by anti-Catholicism you can be public about that. If you are a Quaker moderate motivated by your religious beliefs, you can publicly state that you believe to fight is to go against the will of God. If you are a Loyalist on the frontier motivated by wanting protection from hostile Indians, you can publicly state one should support the king because his soldiers protect us from the Indians.
Examples of a sharp contrast between the two paragraphs:
As a Patriot you could privately admit that you are motivated by indebtedness. But publicly you would want to take the high road and not argue we should revolt so we can get out of our debts. You publicly want to make appealing arguments. For another example, you could privately admit that you are motivated by a concern that slaves are escaping to the British side. But publicly, you would not want to be so honest. Instead, you could use the rhetoric of freedom. It would sound better to say you are fighting for freedom rather than to say you are fighting to maintain slavery.
As a Loyalist you could privately admit that you are motivated by the money you are making selling goods to the British army or that, of course, you are a Loyalist because you are an agent for a British company. But publicly, again, you might not want to be so honest. You would want to make patriotic arguments for supporting king and country.
V: Guide for the paragraphs:
Stay in historical character. Do not make references to how the Revolution and War of Independence turns out. Do not refer to the future of the U. S.
Avoid a presentist perspective. Today, we generally think that the number 1 and most common sense reason for and justification for the Revolution was that the colonies were ready and wanted to separate from Britain and be an independent nation. However, the opposition in the 1760s and 1770s had not been a movement to separate colonies out of the British empire to become a new and separate country. Independence was not generally discussed at the time. For Patriots independence as a goal came late. Also, avoid using words such as "nation." During the war even radical Patriots were not ready to call the confederation a nation.
Avoid a Patriot bias. Again, we grow up in America seeing the Revolution from the view of the Patriots. Part of the assignment, as an exercise in looking at historical events from different views, is to avoid having a Patriot bias when you assume a moderate or Loyalist character. When you are a moderate or a Loyalist, here are some things that you would probably not be thinking about and would not be writing or talking about. These were not commonly held views among colonists. You will find these views mostly in Patriot propaganda:
That colonists came over to get away from oppression in Britain
That the king is bad
That colonists were consciously feeling a burdensome taxation from Britain
Do not stay in the abstract. Try to be like a real person. Think of realistic and personal motives that would lead a person to take positions during the Revolution. Consider that people did not always act because they just wanted to do good things. Consider other motives than the noble, principled, and idealistic ones.
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