by Ray Raphael
British General Burgoyne (center left) surrenders to General Horatio Gates at Sa

On July 4, 1774, exactly two years before the United States declared independence, a patriotic club in Worcester, Massachusetts, decided that each member should have in the ready two pounds of gunpowder and twelve flints. With the Massachusetts Government Act, Parliament had just revoked key provisions of the colony’s provincial charter (like a constitution), and the people of Worcester vowed they were ready to fight to protect their political rights. Two months later 4,622 militiamen—half the adult population of this rural county—rode or walked for as many as fifty miles to gather along Worcester’s Main Street and shut down the governmental machinery at the local level. The show of force was so overwhelming that the British military commander in Boston did not dare send in his troops.More »

Featured Primary Sources

Lucy Knox to Hannah Urquhart, April 1777. (The Gilder Lehrman Institute of Ameri

A family torn apart by war, 1777

Creator: Lucy Knox Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Timothy Pickering, by Charles Willson Peale, 1793-1793 (Independence NHP)

A patriot’s letter to his loyalist father, 1778

Creator: Timothy Pickering Jr. Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

An African American soldier’s pay warrant, 1780

Creator: the State of Connecticut Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
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