1. By 1775, talk of liberty pervaded the colonies, including people of German heritage.
2. As the crisis deepened, Americans increasingly based their claims not simply on the historical rights of
Englishmen but on the more abstract language of natural rights and universal freedom.
a. John Locke’s theory of natural rights
b. Thomas Jefferson’s A Summary View of the Rights of British America
a. Cannon from Fort Ticonderoga
3. The Second Continental Congress raised an army and appointed George Washington its commander.
1. That the goal of this war was independence was not clear by the end of 1775.
2. Opinions varied in the colonies as to the question of independence.
3. Voices of Freedom (Primary Source document feature)
a. A portion of Loyalist minister Samuel Seabury’s pamphlet, “An Alarm to the Legislature of the
Province in New-York” (1775), provides a counterargument to American independence.
F. Common Sense
1. Thomas Paine published Common Sense in January 1776.
2. Criticizing monarchy and aristocracy, Paine called for a democratic system based on frequent elections
and a written constitution.
G. Paine’s Impact
1. Paine dramatically expanded the public sphere where political discussion took place.
2. He pioneered a new style of political writing, engaging a far greater audience than anyone before him.
3. His persuasions led the Second Continental Congress to sever the colonies’ ties with Great Britain.
H. The Declaration of Independence
1. The Declaration of Independence declared that Britain’s aim was to establish “absolute tyranny” over the
colonies, and, as such, Congress declared the United States an independent nation.
2. Jefferson’s preamble gave the Declaration its enduring impact.
I. The Declaration and American Freedom
1. The Declaration of Independence completed the shift from the rights of Englishmen to the rights of
mankind as the object of American independence.
a. The “pursuit of happiness” was unique and became the central element of American freedom.