Why Community Matters: The American Revolution

Why Community Matters: The American Revolution

Community: How did the American colonists create a community?

Even though the American colonists were spread out among 13 colonies, they were still a large community. A community of people don’t all have to live in the same neighborhood. Common interests can unite a group of people together, creating a community. As the British started making a lot of unfair laws, the American colonists united in their frustration. People like Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and George Washington helped to create a large community that wanted freedom and were willing to go to war to be free!

What is a “community” anyway?

Community is a feeling as well as a set of relationships among people. People form and maintain communities to meet everyday needs. Community members should have a strong sense of trust, belonging, safety, and care for each other.

A common definition of community is a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and live, learn, and work near each other. Trust, safety, teamwork, togetherness, and belonging are essential parts of a community and a ‘sense of community’.

Communities from Europe and Africa moved to the original 13 colonies and created new communities there. Some of these people were there for religious reasons, others for financial and business reasons, and sadly, some were even there against their will.

The word community is an easy word to say.

The word community. The word itself describes the connections we have and form with each other. It is also sometimes used to describe common and shared experiences. In your everyday life, you are surrounded by communities.

A community is many things.

The idea of community. A community is not a place, a building, or an organization, nor is it an exchange of information over the Internet. It is all of those things and much more. It is a feeling, a belief, a sense of ‘we.’ Your school, your team, and your neighbors are all examples of your community.

Let’s take a look at the colonists that helped their community gain their freedom!

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams was born on September 27, 1722, in Boston, Massachusetts. He came from a family with lots of experience in politics; his second cousin, John Adams, was the second president of the United States. Samuel Adams was so smart that he got accepted into college when he was only 14 years old! He loved studying government and writing, and he encouraged others to support the cause for independence.

In the 1760s, Samuel Adams helped lead protests against the British, who were ruling the colonies. He wrote about this often in the Boston newspaper, calling all the colonies to unite against King George III, who was the King of England.

He strongly disagreed with the British government creating the Sugar Act, which made the colonists pay taxes (extra money) for the sugar they bought. Another law, the Tea Act, led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. To show their anger over the tax, when a boat with a shipment of tea came in, a group of colonists snuck onto the British ship. Then Samuel Adams gave a secret signal, and the colonists dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. That’s one big tea party!

  • What would your signal be if you were a part of a secret mission?

Two years after the Boston Tea Party, things had gotten even worse for the colonies. King George III was still making the colonists pay high taxes and was sending over more and more British soldiers to enforce the unfair laws placed on them. Samuel Adams and a man named John Hancock started to encourage each colony to form their own militias. These militias were groups of regular men who had some military training and would only fight if there was an emergency. King George III heard about what Adams and Hancock were doing and all the weapons they were starting to gather. He sent British soldiers to track down and capture Adams and Hancock as well as the weapons the militia were storing.

Adams and Hancock were able to escape before the British captured them. The British army left Boston and marched towards Concord, MA (a city near Boston), to collect the weapons being stored by the militia. On the way, the British were stopped at Lexington, MA, and met by a small group of militiamen. An argument broke out, and a shot was fired. No one knows who fired the first shot, but that shot was “heard around the world.”

The fighting only lasted about five minutes, but eight colonists died. The American Revolution had officially begun!

Adams signed the Declaration of Independence and said that the colonists needed to be ready to go to war and fight for their freedom. He was considered an important leader at the start of the American Revolution, influencing other colonists to rise up against the rule of the king and pave the way for a new life of freedom.

  • What qualities make a person a good leader?
  • What were the American colonists angry at the British for?

Benjamin Franklin

Before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin was famous for being an inventor. He came up with all kinds of new things: paddles to help swim faster (like having duck feet), the first library, and glasses called bifocals that help a person see both far away and up close.

Much like Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin did not agree with how the British were ruling the colonies. He strongly disagreed with the British creating The Stamp Act. The Stamp Act made the colonists pay more money for anything they bought made from paper, like newspapers and even playing cards. Benjamin Franklin printed one of the first newspapers in America, so the Stamp Act personally affected him. He wanted as many people to buy the newspaper as possible!

The colonies were small compared to all of England, so they needed support from other countries to help them if they were to be victorious against the British. Benjamin Franklin went to France, a country in Europe, to ask if they could help the colonists fight. The French loved Benjamin Franklin’s stories and thought all his inventions were spectacular. The King of France, Louis XVI, agreed to send money and weapons to help the American colonies. If the French hadn’t helped the colonists, they probably wouldn’t have won!

  • Can you think of a Bible story where a small army defeated a larger army?

Example: Battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)

The city of Jericho had a huge wall around the city to protect them. God told the small Israelite army that they would win the city over by marching around the wall seven times. God told them to carry trumpets, and on the 7th day of marching after they blew the trumpets and shouted, the walls fell down and the city became theirs. God can work through anyone, regardless of size or might. The colonists were a young army and not big in size themselves. But with the help of the French, and faith in God, the American colonists were able to overcome. The size of our faith matters much more to God than how big we are!

Benjamin Franklin helped write both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. At 81 years old, he was the oldest person involved in the drafting of these documents! Without Benjamin Franklin’s leadership and ideas, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we do today.

  • Imagine if your grandfather or grandmother helped write down the rules for a new country. What rules do you think he or she would include?
  • What were a few reasons why Benjamin Franklin was against the Stamp Act?

There were many colonists that did not support the way the king was ruling the colonies. However, not every colonist was against the king.

King George III

King George III was the King of England during the American Revolution, ruling from 1760-1820. His country spent enormous amounts of money on their most recent war at that time, The French and Indian War. So King George III thought that having the colonists pay more taxes on things like paper products and tea would help them make their money back. The colonists didn’t like that King George III was making decisions without them. They wanted a say in how the colonies would be run! They were infuriated by his demands on the colonies, so they refused to continue paying taxes. King George III said they were defying the king by not paying taxes. This led to the colonists wanting to be free and starting the American Revolution.

Not every colonist was against King George III. There were some who really liked him and were very loyal to the king. They were so loyal that they fought on the side of the British during the American Revolution. This group of people was called the Loyalists.

The word “loyal” means “faithful.” The Patriots were loyal (faithful) to their cause for independence and freedom. The Loyalists were loyal (faithful) to King George III.

God always wants us to follow our government’s laws. But before our faith in elected leaders, our first and foremost loyalty is to our Almighty King. He helps all leaders in places of authority, like our nation’s president, lawmakers, and officials, and guides them in their decisions. God leads us in the same way. The more we pray and read our Bible, the more we hear God’s voice and understand what He wants us to do. Romans 13:1 says, “All of you must obey the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule. And no one rules now without that power from God.”

  • How can you pray for our nation’s leaders?
  • No government leader is perfect. God can even use bad leaders to further His kingdom. What is one good thing that came from King George III ruling Great Britain?