One of the great achievements of the colonists was, thus, sharing information and getting news and opinion into print about British attempts to erode their liberty and impose taxes on them without representation. By 1766, Sons of Liberty groups throughout the colonies were actively fighting the tax on documents, known as the Stamp Act, to the point that customs agent John Robinson reported that tax officials felt the fury “not of a trifling Mob, but of a whole Country.” In London, Benjamin Franklin warned that British attempts to force the Americans into compliance would be disastrous: “They will not find a rebellion; they may indeed make one,” he observed shrewdly. When the British actually did send troops to Boston, Franklin warned that the act was as foolish as “setting up a smith’s forge in a magazine of gunpowder.”
For a time, British oppression seemed to work. “If it were not for an Adams or two, we should do well enough,” declared Thomas Hutchinson, the royal governor of Massachusetts. But those pesky Adamses, Samuel and John, refused to leave their ostensible masters alone, rallying Americans to defend their liberty, as the British ratcheted up the pressure. The Adamses well understood how to move public opinion by keeping on message while resisting the temptation to imitate the worst abuses of their adversaries. “Put your enemy in the wrong, and keep him so, is a wise maxim in politics as well as in war,” Samuel Adams advised. And soon after the first shots rang out, another powerful voice entered the fray, through a pamphlet entitled Common Sense. Thomas Paine recognized from the start this was about more than a mere political battle: “We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” he wrote. And that is what the Revolution did, by unleashing the explosive force of ordered liberty.
It's better than the History Channel on a Saturday afternoon! So put on your tricorne and get reading, patriots!