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)
Massachusetts assembly refuses to pay the governor (1728)
The Albany Plan for a continental American government (1754)
An American petitions about the Iron Act (1750)
James Otis’ speech against writs of assistance (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 western territories (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 taxes in the colonies (1765)
Soame Jenyns on American objections to taxation (1765)
Isaac Barre speaks for the American colonists (1765)
The Virginia Resolves on the Stamp Act (1765)
Massachusetts assembly protests to the royal governor (1765)
The Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress (1765)
British MP William Pitt opposes the Stamp Act (1766)
Benjamin Franklin testifies on the Stamp Act (1766)
The Massachusetts circular letter to other colonies (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 to boycott British goods (1769)
List of non-boycotting merchants from Boston (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 (1774)

Social tensions

A report on the death of Christopher Seider (1770)
A newspaper account of the Boston Massacre (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 non-importation (1770)
Loyalist Nicholas Cresswell on the unfolding revolution (1774-75)
The Galloway Plan for Union (1774)
A New York Loyalist urges reconciliation (1775)
The ‘Olive Branch Petition’ (July 1775)
Plain Truth, a Loyalist response to Common Sense (March 1776)
Thomas Hutchinson on the Declaration of Independence (1776)

Towards independence

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

Revolutionary war

General Gage reports to London the Powder Alarm (1774)
The British Parliament declares Massachusetts in rebellion (1775)
Patrick Henry’s ‘Liberty or Death!’ speech (1775)
Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775)
George III declares the American colonies in rebellion (1775)
George III’s speech to parliament (1775)
A Loyalist describes the Continental Army and its soldiers (1776)
Washington calls for better terms of enlistment (1776)
Thomas Paine’s first instalment of The American Crisis (1776)
A contemporary report of the Battle of Trenton (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 (1781)
Thomas Paine’s final American Crisis (1783)
A petition from rural Massachusetts for currency reform (1786)
Washington and John Jay call for a stronger government (1786)
The resolutions of the Annapolis Convention (1786)
The Virginia Bill for Religious Freedom (1786)
Benjamin Franklin urges support for the Constitution (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)
George Washington’s inauguration speech (1789)

Remaking society

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