What were the causes and effects of the multiple points of view or perspectives on independence that were reflected in South Carolina during 1775? Were the views in South Carolina representative of the other colonies?
Introduction: This Document-Based Question (DBQ) presents students with a series of primary source documents across the colonies and requires them to identify different points of view, evaluate the historical context, and infer the causes of the multiple views (circa 1775).
Time Required: This DBQ will take 5-6 days. (See PDF Independence_Viewpoints for details)
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South Carolina Standards (2020)
Standard 8-2: Demonstrate an understanding of how South Carolinians and Americans created a revolutionary form of government during the period of 1757– 1815.
Indicator 8.2.CO: Compare the motives and demographics of loyalists and patriots within South Carolina and the colonies.
Historical Context and Background Information
During the 1750’s and 1760’s, South Carolina and the other American colonies became involved in the military and economic rivalry between the French and the English. The rivalry with the French was rooted in longstanding animosities (dislike). This rivalry led to a series of wars. In North America the military conflict became known as the French and Indian War and began when the French moved into the Ohio River Valley. The French and Indian War ended with British victory. France lost her possessions in North America and Spain lost control of Florida to the British. The war changed the relationship of the colonies with the mother country, Great Britain. In an effort to pay off the 140 million pound national debt, the British began to enforce their mercantilist policies (Kennedy & Cohen, 2016)(South Carolina Department of Education, 2011).
Events leading to the American Revolutionary War were largely the result of the attempt by the British crown and Parliament to impose taxes on the colonies in order to pay for the French and Indian War. Colonists believed it was the right of their colonial assemblies to impose taxes, not the prerogative of the King or Parliament (South Carolina Department of Education, 2011).
The most important tax imposed by Parliament was authorized by the Stamp Act. This act placed a tax on paper. Taxes prior to this were indirect taxes, paid by the merchants. Incensed (extremely angry) colonists protested “No taxation without representation” because colonists did not have their own representative in Parliament and therefore believed that they had no colonial voice in Parliament. Colonists wanted the rights of their own colonial assemblies to impose taxes. Colonists organized a Stamp Act Congress and a boycott on British goods that led to the repeal of the Stamp Act. They also organized the Sons and Daughters of Liberty in order to protest British taxes and enforce the boycotts through persuasion and intimidation. The British then imposed another indirect tax through the Townshend duties (taxes on paint, paper, tea, and a variety of other goods). The colonists at this point were unwilling even to accept an import tax because it was designed to collect revenue, not to regulate trade. Again the colonists used a boycott. As a result of the boycott, the Townshend duties were repealed except for the tax on tea(South Carolina Department of Education, 2011).
The Tea Act was not a tax. This act gave the British East India Company exclusive rights to sell tea in the colonies because the East India Tea Company had financial problems and Parliament wanted to help the company. In Boston the Sons of Liberty coordinated protests and threw the tea overboard (Boston Tea Party). Georgetown and Charles Town had small “tea parties” that were not as large as the Boston protest, but did not allow the tea to be sold. The Boston Tea Party resulted in Parliament’s passage of what the colonists called the Intolerable Acts (South Carolina Department of Education, 2011). In 1774, British Parliament passes the Intolerable Acts to punish the colonist for the Boston Tea Party (Kennedy & Cohen, 2016).
In 1774, representatives from across the South Carolina colony met in Charles Town to elect representatives to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia. They also established a General Committee of 99 to govern the colony instead of the royal governor. Political power in this new Provincial S.C. Congress was centered on the planter class of the South Carolina Low Country. The low country (the area around Charles Town along the coast) held only 1/3rd of the population but sent 2/3rds of the representatives to the 1775 Provincial S.C. Congress (South Carolina Department of Education, 2011).
Guiding Questions and Sources – See PDF
Example Document 1: The “Charleston Tea Party” is an article that appeared in the South Carolina Gazette in November of 1774. The article was written to inform readers about a new shipment of Tea (South Carolina Gazette, 1774).
CHARLES-TOWN, November 7.
…The same Day arrived here, in the Ship Britannia, Capt. Samuel Ball, jun. from London (amongst a Number of other Passengers) …
Before Captain Ball had been many Hours in Port, the Committee of Observation were informed, that he had Seven Chests of Tea on board, subject to that Duty which all America have denied to be constitutionally imposed; and the Minds of the People appeared to be very much agitated. To allay the Ferment which there seemed reason to apprehend, that Committee met early on Wednesday Morning, sent for Captain Ball, who readily attended, and, after expressing to him their Concerns and Astonishment at his Conduct, acquainted him, it was expected the said Teas should not be landed here. He acknowledged having the mischievous Drug on board … But declared, that he was an entire Stranger to their being on board his Ship, ‘till he was ready to clear out, when he discovered that his Mate had received them in his Absence: — That, as seen as he made the Discovery … he entered [a] … Protest; which he hoped would acquit him from the Suspicion of having any Design to act contrary to the Sense of the People here, or the Voice of all America.
On Thursday at Noon, an Oblation was made to Neptune, of the said seven chests of Tea, by Messrs. Lindsay, Kinsley and Mackenzie themselves; who going on board the Ship in the Stream, with their own Hands respectively stove the Chests belong to each, and emptied their Contents into the River, in the Presence of the Committee of Observation, who likewise went on board, and in View of the whole General Committee on the Shore besides numerous Concourse of People, who gave three hearty Cheers after the emptying of each Chest, and immediately after separated as if nothing had happened.
South Carolina Gazette. (1774, November). Charleston Tea Party. South Carolina Gazette , p. 2.
Digital Collections Information
This DBQ is based on images and/or documents from several institutions including the University of South Carolina Libraries, The National Archives, and The Library of Congress. See individual images for institution information.