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American HonorThe Creation of the Nation's Ideals during the Revolutionary Era$
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Craig Bruce Smith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469638836

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638836.001.0001

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A Matter of Honor and a Test of Virtue

A Matter of Honor and a Test of Virtue

Riots, Boycotts, and Resistance during the Coming of the Revolution

(p.65) Chapter Three A Matter of Honor and a Test of Virtue
American Honor

Craig Bruce Smith

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter traces the period from the end of the French and Indian War to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It analyzes the formation of a communal sense of self before and during the Revolution, based on recognition of British slights to Americans’ personal honor. The origins of the American Revolution are thus cast as a defense of honor on the part of the patriots. This chapter illustrates how ethical changes that occurred during the colonial period directly led to the American Revolution. The central theme is the progression of American honor, virtue, and ethics from simply a direct British offspring to something that is more individualized under the context of a nascent proto-nationalism. This chapter contends that the patriots viewed the American Revolution as a matter of honor and a test of virtue. Men like Washington felt that British policy had attacked their honor, and they were forced to react. America would win or lose based upon maintaining its virtue. It also offers new causes of the war. The chapter shows that the coming of the Revolution was understood by the patriots as more of an ethical question than a question of taxation or sovereignty.

Keywords:   Declaration of Independence, First Continental Congress, Second Continental Congress, Stamp Act, Taxes, Enlightenment thinkers, Boston Massacre, Boycotts, Debt, Sons of Liberty / Daughters of Liberty

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