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Patriots, Loyalists, and Revolution in New York City, 1775-1776



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Part of theReacting to the Pastseries,Patriots, Loyalists, and Revolution in New York City, 1775-76draws students into the political and social chaos of a revolutionary New York City, where Patriot and Loyalist forces argued and fought for advantage among a divided populace. Students engage with the ideological foundations of revolution and government through close readings of Locke, Paine, and other contemporary arguments. Each studentrs"s ultimate victory goal is to have his/her side in control of New York City at the end of 1776 (not as of the end of the Revolution, when all know who won), as well as to achieve certain individual goals (e.g., slaves can attain freedom, propertied women can be granted voting rights, laborers can make deals for land). Winning requires the ability to master the high politics arguments for and against revolution as well as the low political skills of logrolling, bribery, and threatened force. Military force often determines the winner, much to the surprise of the students who concentrated merely on internal game politics.

Author Biography

Bill Offutt has been Director of the Pforzheimer Honors College (2001-07) and is currently the Honors Faculty Advisor and Associate Professor of History at Pace University.  His book, Of Good Laws and Good Men: Law and Society in the Delaware Valley 1680-1710, was published in 1995.  His academic interests focus on the relationship between law and society, particularly the methods by which legal systems obtain and keep their legitimacy.  He has taught classes in colonial America, revolutionary America, the Civil War, Constitutional history, and American women’s history.  The American Revolution game is paired with the “Anne Hutchinson” game to form a Reacting course under an existing course for freshmen at Pace entitled “The Early American Legacy.” 


Table of Contents



I.  The Game


Prologue: New York City, February 9, 1775

Map of New York City, 1730—70

A Walk through the City

The Historical Context

The Crisis in Great Britain’s North American Colonies, 1763—1775

Social Roots of the Revolutionary Crisis

Economic Roots of the Revolutionary Crisis

Political Roots of the Revolutionary Crisis

The (Debatable) Logic of Colonial Resistance

Key Elements of the Game

Game Situation at Start

The Cast of Characters

Role Distribution by Class Size

Class Assignments and Activities


Week One (and a Half): Setting Up

Week Two (Game Sessions 1—2): Expected Issues

Week Three (Game Sessions 3—4): Expected Issues

Week Four (Game Sessions 5—6): Expected Issues

Rules for Playing the Game

Provincial Congress Procedures

Oral Presentations

Secrecy Concerning Your Role

Private/Personal Deals

Mob Action

Assignments and Grading

Written Assignments


Game Performance points [If used–consult Gamemaster]


II. Appendices

Appendix A.  Chronology of Events preceding the American Revolution

Appendix B.  John Locke, Second Treatise of Government

Introduction to Locke’s Second Treatise

The Second Treatise of Government (Excerpts)

Appendix C.  Documents

Two Pamphlets on the Stamp Act Debate (1765)

Samuel Johnson, pamphlet, “Taxation no Tyranny” (1775)

Samuel Seabury, Letters of a Westchester Farmer: The New York Loyalist Position (1774—75)

Thomas Paine, Common Sense (Excerpts, 1776)

James Chalmers, Plain Truth (The Loyalist Response to Common Sense, 1776)

Appendix D.  Bibliographical References


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