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Presentation on theme: "FOUNDING FATHERS AND REVOLUTIONARIES A Nation is Born."— Presentation transcript:


2 Age of Reason Great upheavals occur when circumstances are ripe The American revolution was such an upheaval, and the ground work for it had been laid by European writers and thinkers as well as the British Monarchy The 18 th century is often characterized as the Enlightenment or Age or Reason Spurred by the work of thinkers such as Galileo, Newton, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Locke

3 Thinkers and Theorists of the Era Valued reason over faith Had little interest in the hereafter Believed in reason and science to further human progress Spoke of a social contract that forms the basis of government Believed that by nature people are good, not evil A perfect society seemed to be more than an idle dream perhaps even possible

4 American Statesmen American statesmen of the Revolutionary period were figures of the enlightenment These Americans not only expressed Age of Reason ideas but put them into practice Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson were a few of these great thinkers. These men questioned the way things were and reasoned their way into a revolution

5 A Time for War The American Revolution was preceded by the French and Indian war: a struggle for control of North America from 1754-63 The Stamp Act: the British raised colonist taxes to pay for war debt. Distributors of stamps were beaten and their shops destroyed until the act was repealed Townshend Act: Another tax on common place items led to the Boston massacre Tea Act: Gave the English a monopoly on tea until the Boston Tea Party

6 First Continental Congress Each new act had left the colonies in an uproar In 1774 colonial leaders secretly met in Philadelphia to discuss independence At the same time, the British, knowing their authority was slipping away, appointed General Thomas Gage as the new governor of Massachusetts

7 The Shot Heard Around the World April 19, 1775 700 British troops met 70 colonial minutemen on the Lexington green A skirmish followed in Concord The American revolution had officially begun More than a year would pass before the colonies declared independence Another six years would pass before the war ended at Yorktown, Virginia on Oct 18, 1781

8 Literature of the period In contrast to the puritan’s private soul searching, much of the revolutionary writing was public By the time of the war, fifty newspapers had been established By Washington’s Inauguration there were forty magazines and almanacs were very popular The mind of the nation was on politics and Journalists and printers provided a forum

9 Politics as Literature Colonial rights were defended and written about passionately in speeches and pamphlets James Otis coined “Taxation without representation is tyranny” in a famous pamphlet Patrick Henry was a spellbinding orator who impassioned audiences Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense was influential in swaying public opinion towards independence

10 Politics as Literature Cont. Thomas Jefferson: drafted the Declaration of Independence with a committee of statesmen U.S. Constitution: Written by our founding fathers including Jon Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson The Federalist: Essays discussing the controversies surrounding the constitution

11 Poetry and Verse Verse appeared in most newspapers Broadside Ballads: a single sheet of paper printed on both sides on a current topic were very popular Philip Freneau: America’s earliest Lyric poet Joel Barlow: known for “A Hasty Pudding” Phyllis Wheatley: African American literary genius Michel-Guillaume Crevecoeur: “Letters from an American Farmer” Ben Franklin: “Poor Richard’s Almanac” was in most American homes


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