Lecture: Independence

Joanne Freeman - Yale

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Lecture Description

In this lecture, Professor Freeman discusses the Declaration of Independence and sets the document in its historical context. The Declaration was not the main focus of the Second Continental Congress, which was largely concerned with organizing the defensive war effort. The Congress had sent King George III the Olive Branch Petition in a last attempt at reconciliation in August 1775, but the King ignored the petition and declared the colonies to be in rebellion. Throughout the colonies, local communities began debating the issue of independence on their own, often at the instruction of their colonial legislatures, and these local declarations of independence contributed to the formal declaration of independence by the Continental Congress in July 1776. Professor Freeman concludes the lecture by describing the decision to have Thomas Jefferson draft the Declaration.

Course Description

The American Revolution entailed some remarkable transformations--converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause--but it was far more complex and enduring then the fighting of a war. As John Adams put it, "The Revolution was in the Minds of the people... before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington"--and it continued long past America's victory at Yorktown. This course will examine the Revolution from this broad perspective, tracing the participants' shifting sense of themselves as British subjects, colonial settlers, revolutionaries, and Americans.

from course: The American Revolution


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