American Revolution documents

This collection of American Revolution documents has been selected and compiled by Alpha History authors. These documents relate to people, groups, events and ideas from colonial and revolutionary America. New sources will be added on a regular basis.

Before the revolution

Robert Beverley on the causes of Bacon’s Rebellion (1696)
William Penn’s plan for an American colonial union (1697)
Gabriel Thomas on life in colonial Pennsylvania (1698)
The Massachusetts assembly refuses to pay the governor (September 1728)
The Albany Plan for a continental American government (1754)
An American petitions about the Iron Act (1750)
Extracts from James Otis’ speech against writs of assistance (February 1761)
Bassett on the grievances of the Regulators (1771)
Why Britons emigrated to the American colonies (1772)

British policies

The Hat Act (1732)
The Iron Act (1750)
The Royal Proclamation on the western territories (October 1763)
Extracts from the Stamp Act (March 1765)
Legislation repealing the Stamp Act (March 1766)
The Declaratory Act (March 1766)
Extracts from the Revenue Act or ‘Townshend Act’ (1767)
Extracts from the Tea Act (May 1773)
Extracts from the Coercive Acts (March-July 1774)
Extracts from the Quebec Act (June 1774)

Colonial responses

James Otis on the rights of the colonies (1763)
Daniel Dulany on the propriety of imposing taxes in the colonies (1765)
Soame Jenyns, an English writer, on American objections to taxation (1765)
Isaac Barre speaks in support of the American colonists (February 1765)
The Virginia Resolves on the Stamp Act (May 1765)
The Massachusetts assembly protests to the royal governor (October 1765)
The Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress (October 1765)
British MP William Pitt opposes the Stamp Act (January 1766)
Benjamin Franklin testifies to parliament on the Stamp Act (February 1766)
The Massachusetts circular letter to other colonies (February 1768)
John Dickinson’s The Liberty Song (1768)
John Dickinson’s Letters from a Farmer the Townshend duties (1768)
The Virginia non-importation resolutions (November 1769)
Charlestown votes for the non-importation of British goods (July 1769)
List of non-boycotting merchants from Boston (February 1770)
Samuel Adams on the natural rights of the colonists (1772)
Joseph Warren on the dangers of standing armies (March 1772)
Thomas Jefferson on the rights of British America (1774)
James Wilson on the nature of British authority in America (August 1774)

Social tensions

A report on the death of Christopher Seider (February 1770)
A newspaper account of the Boston Massacre (March 1770)
Eyewitness accounts of the ‘Boston Massacre’ (1770)

Loyalists and reconcilers

Extracts from letters by Ann Hulton, a female Loyalist (1768-69)
A Loyalist trader speaks against the non-importation campaign (January 1770)
Loyalist Nicholas Cresswell on the unfolding revolution (1774-75)
The Galloway Plan for Union (October 1774)
A New York Loyalist urges reconciliation with Britain (February 1775)
The ‘Olive Branch Petition’ (July 1775)
Plain Truth, a Loyalist response to Common Sense (March 1776)
Thomas Hutchinson responds to the Declaration of Independence (1776)

Towards independence

Extracts from the Sheffield Declaration (January 1773)
An eyewitness account of the Boston Tea Party (December 1773)
Extracts from the Fairfax Resolves, Virginia (July 1774)
A summary of colonial grievances from Delaware (July 1774)
Extracts from the Suffolk Resolves (September 1774)
Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress (October 1774)
Extracts from John Adams’ Novanglus (February 1775)
Edmund Burke urges reconciliation with the colonies (March 1775)
Thomas Paine calls for an end to slavery in America (March 1775)
Mecklenburg County declaration of independence (May 1775)
Extracts from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (January 1776)
The Halifax Resolves (April 1776)
The Virginia Bill of Rights (June 1776)
Charles Lee argues in favour of immediate independence (June 1776)
The Declaration of Independence (July 1776)

Revolutionary war

General Thomas Gage reports to London the Powder Alarm (September 1774)
The British parliament declares Massachusetts to be in rebellion (February 1775)
Patrick Henry’s ‘Liberty or Death!’ speech (March 1775)
Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (July 1775)
George III declares the American colonies to be in a state of rebellion (August 1775)
George III’s speech to parliament (October 1775)
A Loyalist describes the Continental Army and its soldiers (1776)
Washington calls for better terms of enlistment (September 1776)
Thomas Paine’s first instalment of The American Crisis (December 1776)
A contemporary report of the Battle of Trenton (December 1776)
An eyewitness account of the Battle of Yorktown (1781)

The new government

John Adams on the need for a bicameral congress (1776)
The Articles of Confederation (March 1781)
Thomas Paine’s final American Crisis (April 1783)
A petition from rural Massachusetts appeals for currency reform (January 1786)
Washington and John Jay call for stronger government (June 1786)
The resolutions of the Annapolis Convention (1786)
The Virginia Bill for Religious Freedom (1786)
Benjamin Franklin urges support for the Constitution (September 1787)
William Lancaster speaks against the Constitution (1787)
Jonathan Smith speaks for the Constitution (1787)
George Washington’s letter supporting the Constitution (1787)
George Mason argues against the new Constitution (1787)
Excerpts from George Washington’s inauguration speech (April 1789)

Remaking society

Abigail Adams: ‘Remember the Ladies’ (March 1776)
Prince Hall petitions Massachusetts to abolish slavery (January 1777)
A French immigrant explains What is an American? (1782)
George Washington on the abolition of slavery (April 1786)
The Bill of Rights (September 1789)

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