The Gathering Storm in America – Lessons in History

Beverly MillsTeaching Treasures1 Comment

The Gathering Storm in America Audio Download & Lessons in History Teacher’s Guide: $14.95


Dark clouds are forming in America! Is there a precedent in history that can compare to the divisiveness and discord we are experiencing in our country today? Perhaps so.

In many ways they resemble the thunderheads that were collecting energy after Great Britain gained control of Canada and much of America in the aftermath of the French and Indian War in 1763. Over a period of the next 11 years, acts by Parliament disregarded the rights of American colonists as subjects of the English Crown by taxing them arbitrarily without their consent. Petitions to Parliament by the colonies concerning their rights were ignored. Today, we know that King George III’s influence on his ministers in Parliament fueled the tempest in America.

During the 18th century, England’s constitutional monarchy was considered to be the best in the world because of checks to the power of the king in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons that protected the rights of the people they governed.

In setting up colonial governments, the colonies were to follow the laws of England which included taxing themselves through elected members of colonial assemblies. Fashioned after the House of Commons, the colonies granted both men and money to help England win the war in North America. Yet England was saddled with debt after the French and Indian War and the Seven Years War which – occurring at the same time – involved major European powers in contests over who controlled what geographic portion of land on the continent and in territories claimed through conquest and discovery. War and territorial expansion was a costly business. And England had emerged as the eminent military power on the world’s stage.

Economically, the colonies existed for the benefit of the mother country. Under mercantilism, economic practices were put into place to enrich the wealth of England through the importation of goods from the colonies in the form of raw materials that were sent to England aboard British ships. These raw materials were then manufactured in England and sold back to the colonies aboard British ships which benefited the manufacturers, the merchants, and the overall economy of Great Britain. There was never an objection to these practices as mercantilism was the economic system of the time.

After the war, Parliament began to enforce their monopoly on trade in America with a heavy hand. Duties were to be collected on any products imported by the colonies from non-British territories including the “sugar islands” of the Caribbean. British ships were turned into customs vessels to seize cargoes that did not conform to the Navigation Acts of Trade. Offenders were to be tried in a Court of Admiralty without benefit of a jury. Writs of assistance allowed customs officers to enter private property and confiscate goods suspected to have been smuggled. No proof was necessary. There was a Stamp Act, and then taxes were placed on the goods that the colonies imported from England.

Our story – The Gathering Storm in America – begins by introducing an all-but-forgotten founding father whose actions sent winds of protest sweeping across the Atlantic in response to acts by Parliament that were ruinous to the overall economic well-being of the colonies. James Otis of Massachusetts was a great proponent of English laws that were enacted from ancient times and made part of the English Bill of Rights. He lost no time in challenging Parliament on the legality of acts that were enacted without American representation in Parliament.

As a member of the colonial legislature in Boston, James called taxes without representation an act of tyranny. From this came the mantra of the revolution: “No taxation without representation.”
A loyal British subject, Otis was falsely accused of actions that branded him a traitor to his country by the royal governor of Massachusetts. In letters that had been written to England, he had been called a firebrand and a leader of the mob that had gone on a destructive rampage against the Stamp Act. One of the letters had been written by a customs officer in Boston. Since the royal governor had been recalled to England, Otis sought out James Robinson, the customs officer who had falsely accused him of disloyalty and demanded satisfaction. He found him in a coffee house that was frequented after-hours by the British, and demanded a public statement of apology.

In the series of events that followed, the lights were extinguished and Otis was severely beaten by Robinson and his friends. The culprits left through a back door and Otis, with a deep gash on his head, was left for dead. Although he survived, the blows to his head had affected his mind, and he was never again able to perform his duties as a representative of the people in the legislative assembly or continue his practice of law. John Robinson was fined 2,000 pounds sterling, which Otis forgave upon Robinson’s issue of a public apology that cleared Otis’ name of traitorous actions that could have led to his arrest and execution in England.

In the years that followed, the storm in America escalated and erupted into violence as conflicts with the Standing Army which had been stationed in Boston gave birth to the Boston Massacre, Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. An Olive Branch Petition by the Second Continental Congress was answered by a now-famous proclamation issued by King George III that “Blows must decide.”

James Otis, in a mind of beclouded reason and a helpless witness to these events, had often called upon the heavens to deliver him in a flash of lightning from a life that had become burdensome. On May 23, 1783, his call to the heavens was answered. As he was telling a story in the doorway to a room full of friends in Andover, a single storm cloud delivered a flash of lightning that passed through James’ body. Instantly he was dead. His wish fulfilled, he was ushered into eternity in the same year that brought forth the birth of a new nation to be formed on democratic principles adapted from the English laws he so cherished and defended.

In commemoration of this important time in the history of our country, American Heritage Publications is pleased to offer The Gathering Storm in America – a professionally produced hour-long audio drama, accompanied with a newly created Teacher’s Guide, at an introductory price of just $14.95.

The story of Pre-Revolutionary America would make a great summertime enrichment study, and an engaging way to begin a study of the American Revolution that can be tied into the history-making events that are happening in America today!

“For the winds turneth about and returneth again, and it’s a good thing for us to remember.”

To take advantage of this offer, please go to American Heritage Publications and follow instructions for downloading the Teacher’s Guide – a printable PDF – and the audio component for The Gathering Storm in America. This Introductory Offer is good through June 30, 2019.

The Gathering Storm in America Audio Download & Lessons in History Teacher’s Guide: $14.95


Recommended for Grades 5-12, The Gathering Storm in America follows National Standards for History through the art of storytelling.

Your comments are important to us. Please Contact Us with your thoughts, suggestions, and any recommendations you may have as we continue our Stories of America! These are your stories!

Join us in bringing history to life!

Beverly Mills
Co-Founder, American Heritage Publications


One Comment on “The Gathering Storm in America – Lessons in History”

  1. I find the information in this Guide just fascinating. I must have read some of this before, but now that it’s being presented so clearly, showing how various forces were at work, I understand much better how much pressure was brought to bear on the colonists, how closely they were forced to examine their own values and beliefs, and how courageous they were to challenge the authority of the primary authority figure in their world. And much of this resonates with politics today! Thank you Bev for creating this. I envy your students!

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