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John Adams

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Study Questions

What prompted the British government to begin aggressive taxation of the colonies?

Britain realized that supporting the colonies was getting expensive. British troops protected the colonies against attack, and the cost of the French and Indian War only mounted. The Crown decided that the colonies should begin to carry some of the burden of their defense.

Why did the British not understand the colonists' vehement objections to the Stamp Act?

The British government saw the Stamp Act as an exceedingly progressive form of taxation as it taxed colonies in proportion to their wealth. However, the government missed the larger issue–namely, that the colonies did not want Britain to be able to take anything with their consent.

What did the colonists mean when they said "No taxation without representation"?

Adams argued not that America should remain tax-free, but that the colonies should have a voice in the shaping of monetary policies that affected them. That way, they could at least be ensured that their arguments had been heard, even if the eventual outcome did not change.

Essay Topics

What does Adams' imply about the nature of the Revolutionary War? Was the Revolutionary War a revolt or rather an unwanted but necessary response? What did John Adams think about rebelling against the British? In your response, think about the actions that Adams exhibited both in defense of and against the British.

Sam Adams asked in his master's degree studies, is it "lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved?" How do you think John Adams would have responded to this question?

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