Complete the Study Guide

1. In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson derives a “right of rebellion” from the claim that
consent is the rightful basis of all political authority. What is the logic behind this claim about
consent? Does the right of rebellion only apply against monarchs who abuse power? May it also be
invoked against other “despots,” e.g. Parliament? Or does the rise of representative government
make rebellion unnecessary, and also unjust? Explain, drawing on key texts to make your argument.

2. According to James I, the “divine right of kings” authorizes unlimited power for monarchs. How
does he make this argument in The Divine Right of Kings? How were opponents of monarchy in
England able to use the doctrine to limit the power of Charles I, and expand the power of
Parliament, according to Morgan? Is it possible to discover similar limits in the doctrine of “popular
sovereignty,” such that representative governments may be reined in by those who fear majority
rule, or at least rule by bare majorities? Or is popular government unlimited and unchecked by
virtue of its claimed foundation in consent of the governed, as Loyalists like Chalmers feared?

3. What are the main principles of Calvinism, and how were they reflected in the Puritan project of
establishing a “city on a hill” in Massachusetts Bay Colony? Was the Puritan theology reflect in
the distribution of rights and liberties among the colonists? How did the system of inclusion and
exclusion in voting and office holding in New England reflect the primary goal of the colony? In
what manner did the content of the criminal codes and system of enforcement reflect on the
theology of the New England Puritans? Overall, did these aspects of New England impede or
facilitate cooperation with other colonies? Please explain with reference to key texts.

4. What implications does the Quaker (Friends) religious doctrine of the Inner Light have for
conceptions of human nature? How does this contrast with the Five Points of Calvinism? Working
from the Quaker Inner Light, what political principles did William Penn hope to achieve in his
“Holy Experiment” in Pennsylvania? How were Penn’s goals and theological principles extended
to the frame of government, voting rights, and qualifications for office? How did the laws and
criminal codes reflect this same Quaker thinking? Overall, did the qualities of Pennsylvania
contribute to or detract from cooperating with other colonies for independence? Explain with
reference to primary texts.

5. Which of the three colonial experiments – the model of Christian charity in Massachusetts, the
polity of “brotherly love” in Pennsylvania, or the Anglican stronghold of Virginia—was most
democratic? Which was least enthusiastic about declaring independence from Great Britain? What
should we conclude about the relation between the desire for independence and the commitment to
democracy in the American colonies on the eve of war in 1776, subsequent Declarations of Rights
and Frames of Government, or constitutions of the independent states?

6. “No taxation without representation” was a rallying cry for independence in the British colonies of
North America. What sort of representation did the colonists have in mind, and why was it
necessary in their view? Did their concept of representation depart from British understandings of
representation in Parliament after the Glorious Revolution? If so, what accounts for this departure?
If not, how did the colonies justify revolution?

7. What were the principal loyalist arguments against independence, including those advanced by
Chalmers in Plain Truth? On the basis of these arguments should we conclude that Loyalists
opposed representative government, or were their objections aimed at the specific type of
representation embodied in Paine’s “simple government”? Explain, drawing on key texts.

8. What are the defects of mixed-government as Thomas Paine identifies them in Common Sense?
Further, what are the defects of monarchy contained in his argument? What form does his
alternative “simple government” take on, and what arguments does Paine offer to recommend it?
In light of Paine’s thoughts on government in Common Sense how might we expect him to judge
the various state constitutions being framed as he wrote?

9. What attempts were made to form a Union between the colonies prior to independence? What
motivated these attempts, what were their fates, and how did their structures compared with the
eventual Articles of Confederation of the United States? What challenges to the adoption and
operation of those various attempted unions can be identified and how, if at all, did those same
issues reoccur for the Articles of Confederation of the United States?

10. What were the main arguments in favor of independence, according to Paine? How similar were
his arguments to those of the Continental Congress in its Declaration of Independence? Were there
any significant differences between Paine’s advocacy of independence and the reasoning of the
Declaration? If so, what were they, and what accounts for the differences? If not, what did the
Declaration accomplish that Paine hadn’t already done?

11. Does the structure of political authority under the Articles of Confederation reflect the “self-evident
truths” expressed in the Declaration of Independence, or not? If so, show in detail how political life
under the Articles faithfully reflected the Declaration. If not, explain why the Articles depart from
principles that justified independence in the first place. (Note: the “structure of political authority
under the Articles of Confederation” includes state governments, as well as the Confederal
Congress, as you will explain in your answer.)

12. “The people rule,” according to the doctrine of popular sovereignty. How, and why, did colonists
interpret this fiction in a way that accepted slavery, denied women a role in political life, and
reserved political office for men of means? In what sense, if any, was the cause of liberty served
by these exceptions to the language of the Declaration of Independence, which speaks of universal
and inalienable rights? Or is this just another example of the way in which ideological fictions mask
the realities of political power?

Chalmers Plain Truth Reading: