AP UNITED STATES HISTORYChapter 8 Reading Notes: “America Secedes from the Empire”
The Choice of
Washington■Congress was severely divided about the choice of George Washington to lead the Continental Army, largely because of his inexperience in command of any army.■However, he was chosen (and wisely so) for the following reasons:■1. His natural leadership■2. As a Virginian he would represent the most populous colony, an important political consideration■3. He was a man of wealth and thus not susceptible towards financial corruption during the war.
Towards War■The colonists were entrapped in a confusing situation in which they professed loyalty to the crown, but engaging in the process of raising an army.■They issued the Olive Branch Petitionin attempt to remain loyal to the crown (and perhaps gain home rule), but King George III considered his colonists in open rebellion after the events at Bunker Hill.■War seemed inevitable after King George III shocked the colonists by hiring Hessians, German mercenaries. Many colonists felt that bringing outsiders to the conflict was the ultimate betrayal.
Common Sense■Thomas Paine came into the colonies in 1775 and a year later published one of the most important political documents in all of history.■The power of Common Sensecame from its use of simple language (easier for most to understand) and its argument which was…common sense:■A) America was much larger than England; why should they be subservient?■B) America was destined for greatness; remaining loyal to the crown was detrimental to the future of America.
Republicanism■Borrowing heavily from Enlightenment thinkers, Paine (and others in America) adopted the idea of a republic as the ideal form of government. Under this system, the power to govern came directly from the people.■Part of the reason why a republic appealed to a large number of colonists is that many were familiar with the Greek and Roman predecessors and had adopted some of the features in their own colonies.■However, there was a divide in the structure of the republic. Many called for the people to be led by those of wealth and talent, a “natural aristocracy”. This will be the defining issue of the nation after the war.
The Declaration■Fighting in Massachusetts, Common Sense, and the rejection of the Olive Branch Petition convinced the