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					                                                                        History Practicum
                                           Prospectus

       Everybody knows of the Boston Tea Party. This event occurred on December 16,

1773 when a mob of colonists boarded three ships in Boston harbor and dumped 342

chests of tea overboard.1 However, few people today know about the Gaspee Affair,

which was an equally critical event preceding the American Revolution. The Gaspee was

a British schooner that patrolled the waters off of Rhode Island. The Gaspee was

infamous in the area for “swooping down” on ships carrying illegal “contraband,” which

at the time was considered to be anything that was imported from anywhere other than

England.2 During a pursuit on June 9, 1772, the Gaspee became stranded on a sand bar.

Later that night, a mob of American colonists removed the British sailors from the ship,

wounded the captain, and set the Gaspee on fire, burning and destroying it.3 No one was

ever tried or convicted for being involved with this event. The Gaspee Affair was crucial

to the occurrence of the Boston Tea Party due to the fact that during the Gaspee Affair,

the colonists saw that they could taunt the English with controlled mob violence without

any legal ramifications; however, after the Boston Tea Party, the Coercive Acts were

passed by the British which facilitated a harsh set of consequences.4 In my paper, I will

discuss the ways that the Gaspee Affair foreshadowed the Boston Tea Party. I will also

explore the relationship of the two events. If the British would have tried and convicted



1
  Arthur Meier Schlesinger, “Political Mobs and the American Revolution.” Proceedings
of the American Philosophical Society 99 (1955): 245. JSTOR. www.jstor.org.
2
  William L. MacDougall, American Revolutionary: A Biography of General Alexander
McDougall (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977), 43.
3
  William R. Leslie, “The Gaspee Affair: A Study of Its Constitutional Significance.” The
Mississippi Valley Historical Review 39 (1952): 236. JSTOR. www.jstor.org/.
4
  William L. MacDougall, American Revolutionary: A Biography of General Alexander
McDougall (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977), 43.


                                                                                            1
the colonists who were involved with the Gaspee Affair, the Boston Tea Party might not

have happened.

        Some historians completely ignore the Gaspee Affair. For instance, historians,

such as William R. Leslie do not link the Gaspee Affair and the Boston Tea Party at all,

but in my opinion, these two events are inseparable. But even worse than not relating the

two events is the way that some historians totally ignore the Gaspee Affair in their works

about the American Revolution. I think that this is a travesty. For example, in Ray

Raphael’s A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped

the Fight for Independence, Raphael claims to include the accounts of “real people, not

paper heroes.”5 This book is incomplete, in my opinion, because it does not even

mention the Gaspee Affair. An account from someone involved in the Gaspee Affair is

essential to this book because it exemplifies both the title and the first line of the

introduction. Also, in The Revolutionary War: A Concise Military History of America’s

War for Independence, the Gaspee Affair is overlooked, and the Boston Tea Party is only

briefly mentioned. The part of the book that mentions the Boston Tea Party focuses on

the ramifications, such as the Intolerable Acts.

        However, some historians do show the relationship between the Gaspee Affair

and the Boston Tea Party. For example, in Understanding the American Revolution:

Issues and Actors, Jack P. Greene argues that the Gaspee Affair and the Boston Tea Party

are the most “extreme examples” of colonists using “collective violence to achieve




  5
   Ralph Raphael, A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common
  People Shaped the Fight for Independence. (New York: Perinnial, 2002), 1.


                                                                                           2
political objectives.”6 In addition, in his article “Political Mobs and the American

Revolution,” Arthur Meier Schlesinger argues that organized “civilian mobs,” such as

those who took part in the Gaspee Affair and the Boston Tea Party “highlighted

grievances as mere words could never have done.”7

       While most historians, therefore, do not make a connection between the two

events, I believe that the Gaspee Affair and the Boston Tea Party parallel each other. I

will test the argument that both events were fueled by “radicals who complained about

curbs on liberties of individuals.” Both involved the boarding of British ships and the

destruction of property belonging to the Crown. They were also both “open attack[s]

on… authority.” The two events, however, differ in the fact that the consequences of the

Gaspee Affair were non-existent, while the consequences for the Boston Tea Party were,

according to colonists, “intolerable.” I will also test the argument that the Gaspee Affair

foreshadowed the events that occurred during the Boston Tea Party. Failure of the

British authorities to establish consequences for those involved in the Gaspee Affair lead

to the colonists in Boston believing “that they could get away with the same kind of

behavior at the Boston Tea Party.” 8   The time and location affected the outcomes of

each of the events as well. For example, the Gaspee Affair occurred in 1772 at “Namquit

Point, near Pawtuxet” in Rhode Island.9 Controlled mob violence had not previously

occurred in Rhode Island during previous years to the level that was shown by the

6
  Jack P. Greene, Understanding the American Revolution: Issues and Actors.
(Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995), 64.
7
  Arthur Meier Schlesinger, “Political Mobs and the American Revolution.” Proceedings
of the American Philosophical Society 99 (1955): 244. JSTOR. www.jstor.org.
8
  William L. MacDougall, American Revolutionary: A Biography of General Alexander
McDougall (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977), 42, 43.
9
  William R. Leslie, “The Gaspee Affair: A Study of Its Constitutional Significance.” The
Mississippi Valley Historical Review 39 (1952): 236. JSTOR. www.jstor.org/.


                                                                                              3
colonists during the burning of the Gaspee. However, when the Boston Tea Party

occurred, the year was 1773. In the eighteen months that separated the Gaspee Affair

and the Boston Tea Party, British officials began to see an increase in this controlled mob

violence produced by colonists and were getting fed up with the shows of “open attack[s]

on… authority.”10 The tea party also occurred in Boston, the headquarters of defiant

actions and groups, such as the Sons of Liberty. Bostonians had been thumbing their

noses at the British with many bold efforts.

       To explore the significance of the Gaspee Affair, I will analyze sources that make

a connection between the Gaspee Affair and the Boston Tea Party. I will show how the

Gaspee Affair foreshadowed the Boston Tea Party because of their similarities in the

causes, the actual event, as well as the results. I will use primary sources, such as the

proclamations of Governor Joseph Wanton and King George III, which offer rewards of

one hundred and five hundred pounds, respectively, to anyone who helps bring “justice”

to the people involved in the Gaspee Affair.11 I will also use the first hand account of the

Boston Tea Party through the eyes of George Roberts Twelve Hewes, a young shoemaker

who was involved in dumping tea overboard, which is included in A People’s History of

the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence.12




10
   William L. MacDougall, American Revolutionary: A Biography of General Alexander
McDougall (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977), 43.
11
   Sovereign George III of Great Britain. “Proclamation. 1772 Aug. 26.” Proclamation,
August 26, 1772. www. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/Evans? (accessed
November 28, 2006). And Joseph Wanton, “Proclamation. 1772 June 12.” Proclamation,
June 12, 1772. www.infoweb.newsbank.com/iwsearch/we/Evans/? (accessed November
28, 2006).
12
   Ralph Raphael, A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People
Shaped the Fight for Independence. (New York: Perinnial, 2002), 27-28.


                                                                                            4
Also helpful to my paper might be the primary source of the Coercive Acts that were

issued by the British Parliament early in the year 1774.




                                                                                      5
                                Annotated Bibliography

                                    Primary Sources

Sovereign George III of Great Britain. “Proclamation. 1772 Aug. 26.” Proclamation,
       August 26, 1772. www. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-
       search/we/Evans?p_action=doc&p_queryname=4&p_docid=0F2F8210AE604C9
       8&p_docnum=1&p_nbid=A54E5FBSMTE2NTAwODIyOS40NTk1MDg6MTox
       MzoxMjguMjI3LjIyLjc5&s_lastqueryname= (accessed November 28, 2006).

        King George III wrote this proclamation for the people of Rhode Island after the
burning of the Gaspee. He describes the events that took place during on June 10, 1772
and explains how two people lead the mob in burning the ship and wounding Lieutenant
Dudington, the ship’s captain. King George III offers a reward of five hundred pounds to
anyone who helps bring “justice” to the people involved in the incident and also offers an
additional five hundred pounds to anyone who brings “justice” to the two leaders (King
George III). This proclamation is important to my research because it shows that the
British did make an attempt to persecute those involved in burning the Gaspee.

Wanton, Joseph. “Proclamation. 1772 June 12.” Proclamation, June 12, 1772.
      www.infoweb.newsbank.com/iwsearch/we/Evans/?p_action=doc&p_nbid=S58K6
      3WWMTE2NTAxMDg0NS4yMzUxNDQ6MToxMzoxMjguMjI3LjIyLjc5&p_do
      cid=0F2F8270B9735620&f_docnum=1&f_resultsnum=2&p_docnum=1&f_conte
      nt=image&f_currentpage=2 (accessed November 28, 2006).

        Governor Joseph Wanton of Rhode Island makes this proclamation two days after
the burning of the Gaspee. He explains the events that occurred during the incident.
“[W]ith the Advice of much of his Majesty’s Council,” Wanton offers a reward of 100
pounds for bringing to justice any of the people involved with the burning of the Gaspee.
He tells the people of Rhode Island to search for the people involved in the incident with
“vigilance” (Wanton).


                            Secondary Sources

Greene, P. Jack. Understanding the American Revolution: Issues and Actors.
      Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995.

        Jack P. Greene graduated from the University of North Carolina and obtained his
masters at the University of Indiana. He is a historian of early America who focuses on
the Revolution. In this book, Greene analyzes the events of the American Revolution.
This book will be helpful to me because of the part that discusses the Gaspee Affair and
the Boston Tea Party. The two events are used as examples to show how “collective
violence” was used to “achieve political objectives” and that “each new crisis produced a
greater recourse” (Greene, 64). However, this book does not go into the details of either
of the events be discussed in my paper, even though they are central in understanding the



                                                                                         6
causes of the American Revolution. Greene uses many secondary sources as well as a
few primary sources, such as letters.


Leslie, R. William. “The Gaspee Affair: A Study of Its Constitutional Significance.” The
        Mississippi Valley Historical Review 39 (1952): 233-256. JSTOR.
        www.jstor.org/.

  This article discusses the events that occurred during the burning of the Gaspee and the
legal proceedings that followed. Rewards were offered by both Parliament as well as
Governor Wanton of Rhode Island; however, Wanton never had any interest in
persecuting the patriots who boarded and burned the Gaspee. Rhode Island officials and
officials of Parliament debated about who should handle the investigation, but in the end,
no one was ever persecuted or convicted. Leslie delves into the question of “what laws,
English or American, might constitutionally, that is to say, legally or justifiably impinge
upon the colonists who perpetrated the burning of the Gaspee” (Leslie, 234). The article
has strong evidence supporting the thesis; however, at times too many direct quotes are
used and make the work seem rambling. Many primary sources were used including
newspaper articles and the “Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.”

 MacDougall, L. William. American Revolutionary: A Biography of General Alexander
     McDougall. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977.

        William L. MacDougall is a “former Washington correspondent for the Los
Angeles Times”, and “senior editor for U.S. News & World Report,” where he also
“covered Bicentennial and cultural affairs” (MacDougall, 187). In this biography,
MacDougall explains the events of the life of the patriot General Alexander McDougall
as well as some of the events of the Revolution. MacDougall also writes about the causes
and results of the Gaspee Affair as well as the Boston Tea Party. This part of the book
will be the most helpful to my research. The strong point of this section of the book is
when MacDougall makes a connection between the Gaspee Affair and the Boston Tea
Party. He explains that because the British did not seriously pursue or convict any of the
people involved with the Gaspee Affair, other American “radicals” were convinced “that
they could get away with the same kind of behavior at the Boston Tea Party”
(MacDougall, 43). MacDougall uses primary sources such as newspaper articles and
secondary sources such as scholarly articles.

Matloff, Maurice, ed. The Revolutionary War: A Concise Military History of America’s
       War for Independence. New York: David McKay Company, Inc, 1978.

         This book analyzes the warfare that took place during the American Revolution,
beginning with the European style warfare that influenced it. This book discusses the
ramifications of the Boston Tea Party, such as the Intolerable Acts. It also states that the
city of Boston was places under “military rule of Maj. Gen. Sir Thomas Gage” (Matloff,
30). This book does not include any sources except American Military History, the book
that it was adapted from.



                                                                                           7
 Raphael, Ralph. A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People
     Shaped the Fight for Independence. New York: Perinnial, 2002.

        Ralph Raphael graduated from Reed College and obtained masters degrees in
political philosophy and teaching social science and history from the University of
California at Berkeley and Reed College, respectively. He taught at Humboldt State
University and College of the Redwoods and is now a senior research fellow at Humboldt
State University. In this book, Raphael reproduces many primary sources, such as letters,
diaries, and oral accounts of “real people” during the American Revolution, as opposed to
“paper heroes” such as Thomas Jefferson (Raphael, 1). This book will be helpful to me
because of the parts that discuss the Boston Tea Party as a “contained and disciplined
cadre” that was thoroughly thought out and planned (23). A first hand account of George
Roberts Twelve Hewes, a young shoemaker who was involved in dumping tea during the
Boston Tea Party, is included as well.


Schlesinger, Arthur Meier. “Political Mobs and the American Revolution.” Proceedings
       of the American Philosophical Society 99 (1955): 244-250. JSTOR.
       www.jstor.org

       Schlesinger was a professor of American History at Harvard University from
1924-1954. He was also the editor of the New England Quarterly. In this article,
Schlesinger argues that “mass violence played a dominant role at every significant
turning point of the events leading up to the War for Independence” (Schlesinger, 244).
Schlesinger discusses that the mob violence which lead to the American Revolution was
“organized” and uses many examples to strengthen his argument; however, the sections
where he writes specifically about the Gaspee Affair and the Boston Tea Party will be
most helpful to my paper. Schlesinger used many primary sources to prove his argument,
including letters from the members of the Sons of Liberty.




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