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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Revolutionary Veteran Describes His Experience (with text supports)

Massachusetts shoemaker Sylvanus Wood served the Patriot cause in the American Revolution in a variety of ways. He fought as a Minuteman at the battle of Lexington and Concord, served three tours of duty in the Continental army, and made shoes for [...]

North Carolina Women Support a Non-importation Campaign

This declaration, reprinted in a London newspaper, provides an example of women's political activism during the revolutionary period. Over fifty "American ladies" from Edenton, North Carolina signed an agreement to stop buying and using tea, British [...]

A Colonial Newspaper Protests The Stamp Act

In 1765 the British Parliament, in an attempt to increase revenue from the colonies to pay for troops and colonial administration, passed the Stamp Act. It required colonists to purchase stamps for many documents and printed items, such as land [...]

"An American Woman" Lends her Support to the Revolutionary War

Esther Reed launched the creation of the Ladies' Association of Philadelphia with the publication of a broadside "Sentiments of an American Woman." Keenly aware of the limited scope of earlier women's efforts and referring to women as "brave [...]

Common Sense (Excerpt)

In these excerpts from the famous pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine makes the case for independence from Britain. The alleged benefits of British rule, Paine asserts, are actually liabilities; he cites unfair trade policies and American [...]

The True Interest of America Impartially Stated

In this pamphlet, published in response to pro-independence broadsides like Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Anglican clergyman and Loyalist Charles Inglis endeavors to "impartially state" the reasons he considers the maintenance of ties to Great [...]

A Revolutionary Veteran Describes African-American Soldiers

A white veteran of the Revolutionary War, known only as "Dr. Harris," delivered this speech before the Congregational and Presbyterian Anti-Slavery Society in New Hampshire in 1842.

A White Woman Describes the American Revolution from a Seneca Perspective

Mary Jemison, a white woman captured by Indians on the Pennsylvania frontier during the Seven Years' War and adopted into the Seneca tribe, recounts her experience of the American War for Independence from a Native American perspective. The Senecas, [...]

A Shoemaker Describes His Role in the Boston Tea Party

In 1773, the British parliament passed the Tea Act, which gave the British East India Company a monopoly on tea imports into the colonies. Angry colonists responded by refusing to allow ships carrying the tea to land or unload their cargo. In [...]

John Adams Explains Why People Without Property Should Not Be Able to Vote

James Sullivan, a state court judge in Massachusetts and colleague of John Adams, was often sympathetic to those who thought women and non-elite men should have a voice in the new nation’s government. Adams disagreed, explaining to Sullivan [...]