Homework Two Answers - Student Five

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Addison D. Homework complete

1. Two important trials or series of trials occurred in the colonies between 1690 and 1750. What where they, and why were they significant? Perhaps the most important of these trials was the Zenger case in 1730. John Peter Zenger, a newspaper printer, was put on trial for libeling the governor of New York. Even though what he printed was true, the libel law still made it illegal. However, the jury decided to ignore the law and upheld Zenger’s innocence. This trial is significant for two reasons: it established the precedent for freedom of the press in America, and it was a major example of “jury nullification,” right of the jury to “nullify” or ignore a law.

The second trial (this one a series of trials) is the Salem Witch Trials. This was when mass hysteria broke out in the Puritans’ Massachusetts colony after several young girls displayed symptoms that looked uncannily like demonic possession. The significance of this trial is not clear. It did not exactly cause the downfall of the Puritan colony, so it was not immediately significant. It is often used today to warn against religious (or political) hysteria, but the Trials were not as bad as they seemed; even the Puritans eventually realized that they had gotten out of hand. Perhaps its greatest significance is as a mystery, as in what caused the “possession” symptoms.

Superb answers. You're right that the Trials did not immediately lead to a discrediting of the Puritans. But perhaps it had a slow, harmful effect on Puritanism over a long period of time (100-200 years), to the point where today the Trials are used to smear all of Christianity.

2. What do you think were the two biggest causes of the Revolutionary War, and why? The most immediate cause of the Revolutionary War was the colonists’ anger at Britain for suddenly imposing what seemed like tax after tax, after the hands-off period of Salutary Neglect. During that period, the colonies had developed their own independent culture, and as they became more similar to each other, they slowly became different than England.

Another major factor causing the Revolution was the distance of the colonies from England. Because of this distance, the colonists had to settle for “virtual representation” in Parliament. But even true representation would be difficult. But without true representation, the colonists argued, England could not impose taxes and regulations rightfully. Therefore, it seemed that separation was the surest way to resolve the political and legal disputes between the colonies and England.

Superb writing: "as they became more similar to each other, they slowly became different than England." The rest of your answer is good, but many other parts of the British Empire which were even further from London did not revolt.

4. The "Tea Party" today takes its name from which event? Explain how that event connects to the views of the Tea Party Movement today. Today’s “Tea Party” movement takes its name from the famous Boston Tea Party, which was a protest against both the tea taxes and the East India Company’s plan to undersell local merchants.

The connection between the “Tea Parties” and this event is primarily a protest against taxes, as well as government control (Britain both taxed and controlled the colonies without their consent). The more fascinating connection is the “Tea Parties’” suggestion of revolution!

Interesting. Perhaps both "tea parties" were an objection to government favoritism also?

5. Explain and discuss the Great Awakening, and its effect in uniting the colonies. The Great Awakening was a religious revival mainly in the Northeast, spearheaded by the greatly skilled preachers Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. It focused on the personal aspect of religion and the fact that everyone can be saved if they repent and accept Christ. According to some historians, this idea strengthened the colonists’ notion of equality, and some of the ideas of the Great Awakening led to the Revolution.

The Great Awakening also helped unite diverse Christian denominations. The widespread popularity of the Awakening also caused geographical unity. The colonists began to see themselves as more similar than different, and at this point probably began to realize that as Americans they were actually significantly different from the British.

Good, but some context would be worth adding. E.g., when in the sequence of history did this occur? (Minus 1).

6. What was the significance—and the outcome—of the French and Indian War? Should it have a different name? The French and Indian War was the beginning of the conflict between Britain and the colonies that eventually led to the Revolutionary War. Though Britain and the colonies cooperated during the war, Britain faced huge war debts and looked to the colonies to help pay. Also, the Proclamation Act barred the colonists from moving west of the Appalachians – essentially preventing them from expanding. The outcome of the French and Indian War was victory for England and the colonies, but the victory was eventually overshadowed by the conflict.

And yes, the war should have a different name! (Although I’m not sure what.) It was really a war between Britain and France. The Indians were involved, but they were not decisive and they fought with the French, not against them, as the name implies.


8. This was probably written in the 1760s or 1770s, either during or a little bit before the Revolutionary War. Before the 1760s there was little discussion of revolting against the King, and after the Revolution the British King was no longer a factor.

I would guess, without looking up the quote, that it is a quote by Thomas Paine from Common Sense.

Correct! But you might explain why .... (Minus 1).

Honors Answers

2. I chose “What was the cause of apparent possession in the Salem Witch Trials?”

While it is fairly certain that there were no actual demonic possessions, the cause is still debated and unknown. Some historians believe that the “witches” were simply pretending, out of some psychological motive. Others, more believably, contend that the cause of the “possessions” was biological or mental. For example, they suggest convulsive hysteria and sleep paralysis as afflictions that could cause possession-like symptoms. The “witches” might even have been early hippies: a grain-infecting fungus known as Claviceps purpurea may have caused the “possession” symptoms. This fungus can cause hallucination and convulsions, and is the substance from which LSD is derived!

Not sure that all would agree that "it is fairly certain that there were no actual demonic possessions" related to the Salem Witch Trials. But your answer explains other possibilities.

3. "All political issues are actually economic issues." Discuss this in the context of the conflicts leading up to the Revolutionary War, with reference to at least one specific dispute. One particular conflict that could be tied to economics was the widespread colonial protests against the Stamp Act. The colonies united in protest and forced many of the British stamp agents to resign. This conflict was, however, only partially economic.

In the case of the Revolution, the events that caused so much uproar were rather insignificant economically. Most of the taxes were very low. The tea that caused the Boston Tea Party would have been cheaper than regular tea. The major reason that the colonists revolted was that they saw Britain as ignoring their rights and taxing and regulating them unlawfully. It was a legal, ideological, not an economic, revolution.

Many political issues are economic issues, but the Revolution was not inspired primarily by economic reasons.

Good answer, but your analysis of the Boston Tea Party is slightly off. The tea on the boat was exempt from the tea tax, and thus would have had a devastating effect on colonial tea by underselling it. The King's favoritism was economically hurtful. (Minus 1).

5. Debate: Do you think a jury should be able to ignore the law in order to find a defendant “not guilty?”

I’m not sure about this. It might be one of those things that “works in practice but not in theory.” If every jury knew about its nullification power, there could be anarchy. A lot of people would probably base their decision on politics or ideology instead on the law. There could also be a lot more undecided or prolonged trials, as juries might often disagree about whether to nullify a law or not.

As it is, though, so few people are aware of this power that it is only used in extreme and often beneficial cases. I think it should continue to be a power for juries, but I’m not sure it should be publicized widely.

Excellent analysis that explains the issues.
Grade: 87/90. Terrific work.--Andy Schlafly 21:02, 19 February 2011 (EST)