The American Promise, Ch 7 Outline

The American Promise Value Edition, Combined Version (Volumes I & II): A History of the United States

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I. The Second Continental Congress A. Assuming Political and Military Authority 1. Delegates to the Second Continental Congress were well-established figures in their home colonies, but they had to learn to know and trust each other and often did not agree. 2. Most of the delegates were not yet prepared to break with Britain; the few who did desire independence were from Massachusetts, the colony the British had stripped of its civil government under the Coercive Acts and whose capital was occupied by the British army. 3. Even the hesitant moderates agreed that the colonies needed to take swift action to coordinate a military defense, for the Massachusetts countryside was under threat of further attack. 4. Congress chose southerner George Washington as commander in chief of the newly created Continental army, a move designed to signal to the British that there was commitment to the war beyond New England. 5. Congress then drew up “A Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms,” which rehearsed familiar arguments about the tyranny of Parliament and the need to defend English liberties. 6. To pay for the military buildup, the congress authorized a currency issue of $2 million. 7. In just two months, the Second Continental Congress had taken on the major functions of a legitimate government, both military and financial, without any legal basis for its authority. B. Pursuing Both War and Peace 1. Three days after the congress voted to raise the Continental army, one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution occurred as British generals tried to root out Boston rebels. 2. The Battle of Bunker Hill proved costly for the British, who, despite winning the battle, suffered many more casualties than the Americans. 3. British general William Howe decided against pursuing the fleeing Americans, unwilling to risk more raids into the countryside, and pulled his army back to Boston. 4. A week after Bunker Hill, General Washington arrived to take charge of the new Continental army; he found enthusiastic but undisciplined troops and quickly imposed hierarchy and authority. 5. While military plans moved forward, the Second Continental Congress pursued its second, contradictory objective: reconciliation with Britain. 6. By the fall of 1775, however, reconciliation was out of the question. C. Thomas Paine, Abigail Adams, and the Case for Independence 1. Pressure for independence started mounting in January 1776, when a pamphlet titled Common Sense , outlining a lively and compelling case for independence, appeared in Philadelphia . 2. In simple yet forceful language, Thomas Paine elaborated on the absurdities of the British monarchy and argued for republican government.
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3. Paine's pamphlet sold more than 150,000 copies in a matter of weeks; his arguments influenced many, including Abigail Adams, who hoped a new government would “remember the ladies.” D. The Declaration of Independence 1. In early June, partly in response to France's offer of military support if the colonies
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The American Promise, Ch 7 Outline - I. The Second...

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