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.