Part 1: Outside of Class Preparation (50% of the grade)
· Read the responses to the Socratic Seminar prompt from Revolutionary War scholars on page 2. Reflect on how you would answer the question, “Was American Independence Inevitable?”. Then select a response that best describes/supports your position.
· Research the topic and find at least one scholarly article that supports your position. You may select more than one article. Annotate the article(s) (mark-up with notes, questions and highlighting). Bring your document(s) to class. Remember you will be responsible for quoting directly from the document(s).
· Prepare three open-ended questions related to information in the document(s) and the question “Was American Independence inevitable?”.
· Type the three questions and bring them along with your annotated document(s) to the seminar (exam day) (50% of your grade: 15% for the questions and 35% for the selection of document and annotations) Both will be turned in for a grade at the end of the seminar.
Part 2: Socratic Seminar (50% of the grade)
· Students will use the inner-outer Socratic Seminar Format.
· Students will participate ½ the time in outer circle (recording the quality and quantity responses of another student – 20%)
o This paper will be turned in for a grade
· Students will participate ½ the time in the inner circle.
o Students must speak at least 3 times during the seminar – asking your question does not count as “speaking”. All of “speaking” times must include references to the selected text. (page numbers and quotes directly from the text). (30%)
Was American Independence Inevitable?
1. Dennis M. Conrad
Yes and no. I do not believe British efforts to create a true empire could have worked. The colonies had for many years been moving toward autonomy and were unwilling to accept the sort of imperial structure and dependency the British government tried to establish at the end of the Seven Years War, especially as there was no credible military threat on the North American continent to force them to rely on British arms. On the other hand, I could easily see an arrangement, something like dominionship, under which Americans would have remained part of the empire. If offered such an arrangement in the first months of the war, I believe most Americans would have happily accepted it.
2. Robert J. Allison
Yes. Ultimately, perhaps by the mid-19th-century, British North America would have become independent in the same way Canada, Jamaica, and Australia became independent and self-governing under the British Commonwealth. Franklin thought this would happen naturally. The nature of the American Revolution though, was not inevitable.
3. Gordon S. Wood
I believe American independence was inevitable, not necessarily in 1776 but within decades. The continental colonies were growing too fast and as Paine pointed out there was something ridiculous about an island ruling a continent.
4. Benjamin L. Carp
No. Almost nothing is inevitable in history. One can easily envision counterfactual scenarios in which the American colonists, like their northern neighbors, resolved to remain within the British Empire and then achieved peaceful separation from Great Britain during the nineteenth century. For those who would argue for inevitability, the question becomes, when does a lasting independence become inevitable? October 1781? October 1777? May 1776? April 1775? June 1774? 1765? 1763? 1688? 1607? Or, for that matter, 1814? At any of these points, circumstances might have turned out very differently, or historical actors might have behaved differently and achieved some sort of peace and reunification.
5. Ray Raphael
“Inevitable” when? Certainly not in 1765 or 1768 or 1770. Nobody – not Samuel Adams or anyone…