Document Based Analysis

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The American colonists took up arms in 1775 when the British attacked in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The battle, however, was a long time coming, with tensions beginning to rise because of the many duties and acts passed by the British Parliament. A few of these include the Stamp Act, the Mutiny Acts, and the Townshend duties. The Americans expressed outrage over the many taxes that they were forced to pay, and as each act passed, more and more Americans began to believe that the only way to gain freedom was to go to war. One major event believed to be the impetus of the Revolutionary War is the Boston Massacre, in which British soldiers fired upon and killed five American colonists. However, about a month or so before the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Patrick Henry wrote his speech “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”, in which he expressed his willingness to fight the British. Similarly, a few months after the battle, Thomas Jefferson wrote his “Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms”. Although written at different times, both Jefferson and Henry believed the same thing. There was not a workable compromise between the British and the American colonists.

In his speech, Patrick Henry reasons that the British had done nothing to reconcile with the colonists, instead doing everything they could to force the colonists into obedience. Henry states quite clearly that the colonists had already tried their best to accommodate the British: “Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical heads of the ministry and Parliament.” One example of this is the Olive Branch Petition, written by John Dickinson and other moderates, which stated that not all of the American colonists wanted to fight, and that they were willing to...
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