A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Core Concepts and Lessons

  • CONCEPT 1:

    The rights and responsibilities of British subjects living in America were the focus of intensive debate and conflict in the years leading up to the Revolution.
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  • CONCEPT 2:

    In both Britain and America, those involved in economic and political disputes used a variety of tactics and forms of communication before resorting to military action.
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  • CONCEPT 3:

    People living in the thirteen colonies increasingly defined themselves as different from other British subjects as ideas of what it meant to be an American emerged over time.
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  • CONCEPT 4:

    The decade before the Revolution began was a continual tug of war between those who wanted to force confrontation and those who sought accommodation and compromise.
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  • CONCEPT 5:

    Between 1763 and 1776, individuals encouraged other individuals, towns encouraged other towns and colonies encouraged other colonies to join in united resistance to Britain.
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  • CONCEPT 6:

    At some point, each colonist had to face the individual dilemma of whether to remain loyal to the Crown or resist, knowing that his choice would have consequences.
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  • CONCEPT 7:

    People from different social and economic classes had different expectations of how the growing conflict with Great Britain would affect their lives.
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  • CONCEPT 8:

    History is a process involving a series of decisions that could have had different outcomes, not a set of preordained events that simply unfolded over time.
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  • CONCEPT 9:

    Documents reflect the personalities, perspectives and agendas of their creators.
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