Revolu/onary Voices: James’s Colonial Journal By Charles
March 27, 1765: Taxa/on with a Dose of Suﬀering
Home Sweet Home
The Prin/ng Press
March 27, 1765 The anger caused by the Bri/sh blockheads is beyond my comprehension. Mother and Father were arguing once again about the stamp act imposed by the Bri/sh. The Bri9sh Parliament wants us to buy stamps on our documents, to make them “oﬃcial”. This nonsense was passed by Parliament with out our consent, and it is being enforced with ruthlessness. Almost anything in the form of paper has to be stamped and taxed. This includes newspapers, documents, patent medicines; even playing cards need to be taxed. This was bad news for Father’s newspaper business, as every single newspaper has to be stamped with a stamp. We are one of the only newspaper businesses in the colonies, and business is not great. Think about the money that our family has to lose paying for tax! We already have a low income, but with this tax, how does the Bri/sh government expect us to keep living? We will have to struggle just to keep mee/ng ends. In addi/on, the money that is used to buy these stamps will not go to ﬁx our roads and help our community, but instead to help widen the pockets of King George the Third. Rumor has it that he will impose heavier taxes a few years down the road. This blasphemy was all spawned due to the Seven Years War that Father fought in. He fought for the ﬁrst year, and then the Red coats arrived. A[erwards, he was not needed. Father and the other colonists worked together with the Red Coats to ﬁght for our safety. I remember when I was a young boy at the age of 6. Father would tell me stories of the Ba\lefront. He would put me on his lap and talk about the /mes that he saw men kill each other in endless slaughter, and how the Bri/sh Redcoats advanced and destroyed everything in their way. He recounted the countless ba\les they had fought. “The Bri/sh Redcoats moved quickly and eﬃciently, as if they were one huge army controlled by God. I remember when we fought in the Ba\le of Quebec. The Brits moved in quickly, wiping out everything in sight. They swept hell across the land, wrecking havoc among the enemies.”
With the enormous victory of the war, there was also a massive cost to it. 40 million pounds was the accumulated cost of the war, and King George expects us to pay oﬀ the whole cost. He simply does not know what life is like here in colonies. First, King George introduces the “Tea Act” to tax the tea that we drink. Then, he taxes the molasses that we use for our rum. What will the King tax next? The air we breathe? The water that we drink? Our freedom? We cannot aﬀord to be taxed over such miniscule things for great prices. I am just a seventeen-‐year-‐old boy named James, an appren/ce to a shopkeeper, but I know that this treatment is cruel. While the rest of us are struggling, there are “Tories”, people who are loyal to the people in Britain. They claim that that the Bri/sh government is helping us. These people need to take a walk outside and look around them. They need to see the crumbling brick houses and walk on the worn out brick roads. It is raining here, but some people choose to ignore it.
December 18, 1773 Taxless Tea for Two
Benjamin’s drawing of the Tea Party based on his father’s telling.
December 18, 1773 The ﬁrst ﬁght for change has ﬁnally happened! A few colonists have dressed up as American Indians have destroyed taxed crates of Tea in protest of the Tea Act! They’re calling this event the Boston Tea Party! This started when The Bri9sh East India Trading Company decided to start selling us taxed tea. Tea merchants from all over Boston complained about how the King could and probably would impose more taxes on the merchants, resul/ng in more money lost. Us Bostonians asked peacefully for the tea to be returned to Britain, but our request was shutdown by Thomas Hutchinson. People were angered by how their request was shutdown without a second thought, and they decided it was /me to act. Benjamin Willis, who works as a tea merchant, was one of the people that raided the tea. Benjamin wrote down what his father said, and relayed his story to me. “The sun was sehng when we le[ for the docks. There were around seventy of us, and we all had dressed up as Na9ve Americans. All of us were ordinary people that wanted to be free of this disgus/ng tax. We moved silently and quickly through the evening, no one there to catch us. We took the crew by surprise and seized the three vessels. We quickly went to work, dumping out tea as quickly and as eﬃciently as possible. There was so much tea, and it seemed like it was endless. It ended up taking three hours to dump out the en/re shipment of tea, but it was the best three hours I had ever spent. Us commoners were determined to keep the money that we had earned righjully. When we were ﬁnished dumping our tea, every single man was celebra/ng our combined victory. I looked out to the sunset, proud of everything that was happening.” In my honest opinion, I think that the Boston Massacre that happened a few years ago caused the destruc/on of this Tea. It was just three years ago, but it has had a las/ng impact. The bloody killing of ﬁve people has truly made us Bostonians more and more aware of the atroci/es. We’ve opened our eyes and seen the pain and suﬀering that the Bri/sh have imposed on us. Did the Redcoats care about the people that they killed? Did they look at themselves in the mirror and think about the people killed?
Did they think about the families of those people? No. Those red coats just con/nued killing people and enforcing the law. The anger against the Bri/sh has been amoun/ng, and the dumping of the tea was retalia/on for those lives lost. In other news, I may need to take up prin/ng. Over the past few years, Father as grown older and aged a lot faster. All the stress from living in such turmoil has eﬀected his age. His health is suﬀering, and I may need to help him with his prin/ng press so that we can have enough money to support the family. I will miss all the shop keeping. In shop keeping, I got to meet people. I could experience what socializing felt like. In this lonely prin/ng job, I have no one. How I yearn someone to talk to!
July 6, 1776 Freedom From the Fools
A facsimile of the document.
A pain/ng that was produced right a[er the signing.
July 6, 1776 The United States of America has been born. Over the past month, Thomas Jeﬀerson has been collabora/ng with the congress to construct a document declaring independence from the Bri/sh. They called this document the Declara9on of Independence. Due to the fact that Father is deathly ill, I had to print all the newspapers. When I was done prin/ng, it was around mid-‐day. The day was a bright as a ﬂame, and I shielded myself from the sunrays with my arm. I placed down the newspapers by the curb and tried to sell them oﬀ. There had been many celebra/ons the past few days, and everyone was in a bright mood. A[er a dull few hours, a few drunken men walked down the street, ran/ng about their opinions of America being free. They bought oﬀ all the newspapers that I had spent the morning making, and I made more money there then I had in the past weeks. At ﬁrst I thought that those drunken blockheads were patriots, but then they started crying that Britain would triumph and quash us li\le colonies. They a\racted quite a crowd. They took all my newspapers and burned them. They turned to me and mocked me. “You print these ideologies, but they will burn like America! Who would dare to read this trash?” I felt my face turn red. How dare they mock my opinions? I stood up there and gave them a piece of my mind. “You Tories know nothing about why America wants freedom. America wants freedom from the Bri9sh tyrants for the sake of the people. The people of these colonies voice their anger, yet no one in the Parliament reacts. There is no voice in the decision-‐making back in Britain. Us Americans are /red of being pushed around and reduced to secondary class. The taxes that were being induced on us impacted us heavily. Those taxes may have worked for the Brits back in England, but we’re diﬀerent lads from them. We have diﬀerent needs and wants.” The miniscule crowd that had gathered to listen to the ran/ng of the drunks had their a\en/on now on me. A few of them were nodding in agreement. I had not been the only one that felt that the Brits were harsh. “You drunks claim that the Brits will raze our homes to the ground. Do you not remember the Ba\le of Concord that happened last year? Our brave minutemen beat back you Devils. We didn’t need help from anyone else. Passion and determina/on helped the minutemen win that ba\le.
The redcoat, the strongest army, was beaten back by rag tag soldiers. Where are we now? The small colonies that used to be controlled by the Brits have now declared independence. The United States of America cannot be /ed down! We demand to be free! To be heard! We don’t need to be ruled by King! We rule ourselves! This Declara/on of Independence is the ﬁrst step! With this document, the colonists of the United States of America are changing the lives of its people!” The crowd cheered, agreeing with everything that I had just said. The drunks stumbled oﬀ, beaten back by everything I had just said. The signing of this document had separated people. You were either with us, or against us. There was no middle ground anymore.
October 21, 1781 Final Bloodshed
Washington giving orders.
All the ﬁgh/ng going on.
October 21, 1781 The annihila/on is ﬁnally complete. Us Americans have taken over Yorktown with ease, and it may seem like this war is close to being over. I’ve been part of this army for years now, and we’ve been trained to become a strong ﬁgh/ng force. We’ve trekked over lands and seas as brother in arms. All the harsh weather and ﬁgh/ng has weeded out the weak from our ranks, forming a strong army. Under the command of George Washington, we’ve been a\acking the Bri/sh for days. Twelve days ago, we started bombarding the forts of Bri/sh general Cornwallis. The guns ﬁred all throughout the dark night, destroying everything in their path. Washington did not allow the guns to stop during the night, as the Bri/sh would probably a\empt to make repairs at that /me. The bombardment was ﬁerce, and the Bri/sh could not hold their posi/on for much longer. A[er the defenses were weakened, General Washington commanded us men to a\ack. All the men around me had their bayonets a\ached to their guns, ready to charge. We ran forward like one uniﬁed army. With our axes, we hacked away at the wall of the fort. It was the only that that was standing between the Bri/sh and us. The Bri/sh a\empted to ward us oﬀ with their guns, but our sheer numbers overwhelmed the fort in minutes. We charged with our bayonets, crossing over ditches and holes created by ar/llery. I found myself ﬁgh/ng next to Benjamin. We had become /ght friends over the past few years, having fought next to each other ba\le a[er ba\le. He was always there for me, even when Father died. When Father died, it was as if the light in my life had just been ex/nguished. He listened to my pains and sorrows, and was the friend that I always needed. There we were, advancing as brothers, ﬁgh/ng for each other.
The corpses were stacked like mountains on top of each other. We had to cross over these piles, and some men were added to the piles when they were gunned down. Eventually our sheer numbers overwhelmed them. Washington moved the guns to the base of Cornwallis, and the bombardment ensued. Hours a[er hours the guns hammered the base with relentless force. Finally, a white handkerchief was waved. We were victorious. A cheer went up around our men, and it truly had been our victory. All the miniature victories that us Americans had won had led to this victory. Washington rallied our armies with strict discipline and guerilla tac9cs. Washington used his skilled tac/cs and bravery to lead us men to a\ack the Bri/sh. I remember in the ba\le of Delaware, he had us men ambush the Bri/sh. In a normal ba\le, we would have lost. Using skill and illusion, we beat back the Bri/sh. He even hired Baron Friedrich Von Steuben to train us into a ﬁgh/ng army. The Baron drilled us day and night, through storm and snow. We’ve transformed from a weak ragtag army into an army that rivaled the strongest army in the world. I’ve realized that the people that fought with me were my brothers in arms, and I could turn to them for the support I needed.
November 7, 1783 Peace At Last
Jolly celebra/ons throughout the colonies.
November 7, 1783 The streets have exploded with news. News has reached us that a treaty has been signed in Paris allowing us to be free! John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, followed by two other American delegates with two Bri/sh delegates, have signed the treaty. The treaty, dubbed Treaty of Paris, allows us Americans to have our freedom, and ﬁsh in the waters of the North. To commemorate such a victory, I went out with Benjamin to get a few drinks in the tavern next door. As we entered the tavern, the jolly atmosphere greeted us warmly. The tables were all full, and drunken men were singing turns of victory. The tavern shook as the men roared, and the sounds were deafening. Benjamin and I quickly spo\ed a table and sat down. The waitress brought over two bo\les of beer, and we clinked the bo\les and began drinking. The lowly lit tavern provided enough light for Benjamin and I to talk. We discussed what life would be like without having to pay tax, and what we would do in our /me. “I might use my Father’s connec/ons of become a trader. What about you James?” asked Benjamin. I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I could go back to my old job as a newspaper printer, but I could try something else. I was free as a sparrow, and I was available to do whatever I pleased. What would my Father do? He would want me to con/nue the prin/ng press. He devoted his /me to print the newspapers, and he would’ve hated to see all the work gone to waste. I looked at the bo\le, hoping that the answer would be inscribed somewhere. I told Benjamin that I would go back to the prin/ng press, and that we could go out drinking every once in a while. We con/nued to talk about other memories from the war, and how we were ﬁnally free. This victorious revolu/on revolved around a lot of luck. I heard that the Red Coats were receiving informa/on from back home in Britain. The informa/on o[en took weeks to arrive, so the Brits were o[en basing their moves on old informa/on. Their armies were ﬁgh/ng alone, while General Washington consulted with his other allies to coordinate the a\acks. This is exactly what happened at the Ba\le of Yorktown. The French were entering from behind, while we were bombarding them from the front. There was no way they could’ve go\en away.
If there had been be\er communica/on between the Bri/sh army, we would’ve been annihilated. There was also lots of disrupt in the parliament during the war. Many people were against the ﬁgh/ng, and they con/nued to cri/cize the ﬁgh/ng during the war. There was not enough unity between the Bri/sh, while us Americans were ready to defend everything that we had.
Works Cited "Boston Tea Party." Wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Founda/on, n.d. Web. "United States Declara/on of Independence." Www.wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Founda/on, n.d. Web. "American Revolu/on War." American Revolu/on : The Ba\le of Yorktown. Chalfont Web Design, n.d. Web. "Treaty of Paris." H\p://www.loc.gov/. The Library of Congress, n.d. Web.