These readings show the common and uncommon attitudes of a people who were fed up with the British government. John Adams: "A Burdensome and Unconstitutional Tax" Read these excerpts from John Adams then answer the following question as a complete essay. John Adams - one of the outspoken (and rude and obnoxious - according to his own writing) proponents of revolution wrote this article in response to the Stamp Act. Why does Adams find this tax to be unconstitutional? (Keep in mind that the U.S. Constitution is still 20 years in the future when this piece was written. HINT: It has something to do with the growing concept of "Social Contract.") What is Adams' concept of "private property" in relation to his vehement denouncement of British taxes? Patrick Henry - "Give me liberty or give me death" Read these excerpts from Patrick Henry then answer the following question as a complete essay. Patrick Henry's superb speech is a model of rhetoric and a call to arms. He convinced Virginia's House of Burgesses that the war was already in progress and that they were only deluding themselves in thinking that they could make some reconciliation with Britain. What does Henry's speech say in your own words? What does the biographer's note at the end of the speech tell us about its effect on the Virginia legislature? JOHN ADAMS: A Burdensome and Unconstitutional Tax Sir, In all the calamities which have ever befallen this country, we have never felt so great a concern, or such alarming apprehensions, as on this occasion. Such is our loyalty to the King, our veneration for both houses of Parliament, and our affection for all our fellow subjects in Britain that measures which discover any unkindness in that country toward us are the more sensibly and intimately felt. And we can no longer forbear complaining that many of the measures of the late Ministry, and some of the late acts of Parliament, have a tendency, in our apprehension, to divest us of our most essential rights and liberties. We shall confine ourselves, however, chiefly to the act of Parliament, commonly called the Stamp Act, by which a very burdensome and, in our opinion, unconstitutional tax is to be laid upon us all; and we fare to be] subjected to numerous and enormous penalties, to be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered at the option of an informer in a Court of Admiralty without a jury. We have called this a burdensome tax, because the duties are so numerous and so high, and the embarrassments to business in this infant, sparsely settled country so great, that it would be totally impossible for the people to subsist under It, If we had no controversy at all about the right and authority of imposing it. Considering the present scarcity of money, we have reason to think the execution of that act for a short space of time would drain the country of its cash, strip multitudes of all their property, and reduce them to absolute beggary. And what the consequence would be to the peace of the province, from so sudden a shock and such a convulsive change in the whole course of our business and subsistence, we tremble to consider. We further apprehend this tax to be unconstitutional. We have always understood it to be a grand and fundamental principle of the constitution that no freeman should be subject to any tax to which lie has not given his own consent, in person or by proxy. And the maxims of the law, as we have constantly received them, are to the same effect: that no freeman can be separated from his property but by his own act or fault. . . . But the most grievous innovation of all is the alarming extension of the power of Courts of Admiralty. In these courts one judge presides alone! No juries have any concern there! The law and the fact are both to be decided by the same single judge, whose commission is only during pleasure, and with whom, as we are told, the most mischievous of all customs has become established, that of taking commissions on all condemnations; so that he is under a pecuniary temptation always against the subject. . . . We have all along thought the acts of trade in this respect a grievance; but the Stamp Act has opened a vast number of sources of new crimes, which may be committed by any man and cannot but be committed by multitudes, and prodigious penalties are annexed, and all these are to be tried by such a judge of such a court! . . . We cannot help asserting, therefore, that this part of the act will make an essential change in the constitution of juries, and it is directly repugnant to the Great Charter itself; for, by that charter, "no amercement shall be assessed, but by the oath of honest and lawful men of the vicinage"; and, "no freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, or liberties of free customs, nor passed upon, nor condemned, but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land." So that this act will "make such a distinction, and create such a difference between" the subjects in Great Britain and those in America as we could not have expected from the guardians of liberty in "both." As these, sit, are our sentiments of this act, we, the freeholders and other inhabitants, legally assembled for this purpose, must enjoin it upon you to comply with no measures or proposals for countenancing the same, or assisting in the execution oil of it but by all lawful means consistent with our allegiance to the King and relation to Great Britain to oppose the execution of it till we can hear the success of the cries and petitions of America for relief. We further recommend the most clear and explicit assertion and vindication of our rights and liberties to be entered on the public records, that the world may know, in the present and all future generations, that we have a clear knowledge and a just sense of them, and, with submission to Divine Providence, that we never can be slaves. Nor can we think it advisable to agree to any steps for the protection of stamped papers or stamp officers. Good and wholesome laws we have already for the preservation of the peace; and we apprehend there is no further danger of tumult and disorder, to which we have a well-grounded aversion; and that any extraordinary and expensive exertions would tend to exasperate the people and endanger the public tranquillity, rather than the contrary. Indeed, we cannot too often inculcate upon you our desires, that all extraordinary grants and expensive measures may, upon all occasions, as much as possible, be avoided. The public money of this country is the toil and labor of the people, who are under many uncommon difficulties and distresses at this time, so that all reasonable frugality ought to be observed. And we would recommend, particularly, the strictest care and the utmost firmness to prevent all unconstitutional drafts upon the public treasury. A portion of Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech "..There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending; if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained; WE MUST FIGHT! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir... that we are weak, unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger. Will it be the next week or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature has placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty and in such a country as that which we possess are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable - and let it come!! I repeat it sir, let it come!! It is vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace; but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God - I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" Patrick Henry then returned to his seat. The audience sat in stunned silence. There was no applause, no cheers when Patrick Henry made this speech at a convention on March 23, 1775 in Richmond after Lord Dunmore suspended the Virginia Assembly. The emotion was too great. After a moment of reflection as to what had just occurred, several members of the audience rose from their seats. The cry, "To arms!" quivered on every lip and the gleam of liberty was in every eye.