THE HISTORY CLUB

A place for history teachers, students and enthusiasts

Colonial American History Reading Group

The American Revolution
Surveys Reading Group

Starting April 2017

This is a friendly group of people interested in reading great books about the American Revolutionary Period c.1763 to 1789. It is intended to cover surveys of the American Revolution. If there is interest, we can start specific focus groups about topics such as the War for Independence and American National Formation.

Please Read: Suggestions on how to Meaningfully and Constructively Participate in our History Reading Groups

Thank you for your interest.

Our Current Book and Reading

Current Book Reading Schedule

  • Week 1: Prologue - The Sustaining Truths and Chapter 1 - The Obstructed Giant
    A summary of the political and social circumstances in England on the eve of revolution

    Thought Question:
    What were the social and political circumstances that existed in England on the eve of the American revolution and how did this influence the course of events?

    On page 17 the author uses a humorous passage from chapter 12 in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1852-53). You can read Bleak House Chapter 12 here or the full novel free on Kindle here. This passage has a lot of utility for teachers. Dickens has a piercing and sarcastic (dark) sense of humor and It's a shame it's (mostly) wasted on the young.
  • Week 2: Chapter 2 - The Children of the Twice Born
    A summary of the political and social circumstances in the colonies on the eve of Revolution. Don't confuse the modern "born again" movement with the "twice born". They are completely different socially and theologically.

    Thought Question:
    What were the similarities and differences between colonies of the eve of revolution and what were some of the local conditions that made the American Revolution different in each state and region? How does comparing and contrasting the circumstances in England with America help our understanding of the beginning of the revolution?
  • Week 3: Chapter 3 - Beginnings: From the Top Down
    Overview of the beginning of the reign of George III and the transformation of British Colonial policy. Covers the revision of the Sugar and associated Acts in c.1763-1764.

    Thought Questions
    What common themes emerge between the Colonials attitudes towards Native Americans and the British attitude towards Colonial Americans?
    What was the perspective from the British point of view towards the colonies?
    What was the perspective from the Colonial point of view about the actions taken in Britain?
    What were the main Colonial exports and imports and what types of currency were used?
    What different patterns of trade existed in the Atlantic world in 1763 and how did these different patterns fit together into a trade network?

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    A Prologue to Revolution: The political career of George Grenville (1712-1770) by Allen S. Johnson
    The Story of Britain: From the Romans to the Present by Rebecca Fraser - George III chapter

    Primary Sources:
    Text of the Sugar Act of 1764
    Text of the Molasses Act of 1733
    The Currency Act - April 19, 1764
  • Week 4: Chapter 4 - The Stamp Act Crisis
    The creation and adoption of the Stamp Act by the British and the American reaction to the news of the bill being drafted.

    Thought Question:
    - What were the primary and secondary purposes George Grenvillie introducing the Stamp Act?
    - Why did Colonial Americans object to the Stamp Act?
    - How were the public reasons and private reasons for supporting or opposing the Stamp Act different and contradictory?
    - How did the immediate consequences of the Stamp Act work against the long term goals of Colonial Americans and the British?

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Begin reading The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution by Edmund S. Morgan and Helen M. Morgan

    Primary Sources:
    - Text of the Stamp Act of 1765
    - The Currency Act; April 19, 1764
    - Petition from the Massachusetts House of Representatives to the House of Commons; November 3, 1764
    -
    Petition of the Virginia House of Burgesses to the House of Commons: December 18, 1764
    - Text of Virginia Resolves

The surveys below blend political, economic, social and military aspects of the American Revolution.

The American Revolution Reading List

  1. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff
    A classic survey of the American Revolutionary Era
    (Primary Sources will include mostly political documents and letters)
  2. The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89 by Edmund S. Morgan and Rosemarie Zagarri
    A second classic survey of the American Revolutionary Era
    (Primary Sources will include mostly political documents and letters)
  3. The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
    (We will read Revolutionary era diaries and memoirs during this read)
  4. The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution by Michael J. Klarman
    (We will also be reading The Federalist Papers and the Congressional Debates during this read)
  5. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 by Pauline Maier
    (We will also be reading The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Congressional Debates during this read)

After the first books listed above we will select the next books we read from the list below. Provide us feedback and suggestions for our next book by clicking here.

Click Here For List Possible Next Books