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Battlefields and Blessings
Book Discussion Guide

Welcome to Weeks 3 and 4 of our Battlefields and Blessings Reading Guide from our American History Book Club. Battlefields and Blessings, Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War is a daily devotional by Jane Hampton Cook that brings the American Revolution to life through the viewpoints of the Revolution's key players - George Washington, King George III, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox and Benjamin Franklin.

Battlefields and Blessings by Jane Hampton Cook

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On this page you will find our reading notes for Weeks 3 and 4 of the book, including a short synopsis of the chapter, interesting parts that we would like to point out, discussion questions to provide food for thought and some quotes that highlight the main points of the chapters.

Week 3 introduces James Otis, one of the leading patriotic figures in Boston prior to the American Revolution. James Otis was faced with a difficult choice in his position as Chief Prosecutor for the Vice-Admiralty Courts of Massachusetts when he was asked to defend laws that he believed were unjust.

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Instead of defending the law, Otis chose to resign and fight against them. This made him an instant hero to the colonists and his words were spread far and wide. Future president, John Adams, said Otis' speech against these unjust laws was "the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain."

In Week 4, we see the devastating effects of the Stamp Act, an act passed by Parliament to raise money from the colonies. The colonists would have no part in paying such a tax because they believed it was inherently wrong for Parliament to tax them since they had no representatives in Parliament.

Speeches were made, resolutions were passed, officials were harrassed and threatened to stop the Stamp Act. This put many people in the position of choosing whether or not violence was a justified means to an end, or whether it was more prudent to try and negotitate with Parliament.

If you decide to read along with us, please let our group know who you are in the comments as well! And if you do leave a comment about the reading, be sure to tell us which chapter you are referring to!

This page has our reading guides for Weeks 3 and 4 of the book. You can start at the beginning of the book by going to Battlefields and Blessings Reading Guide. Links to the other chapters can be found at the bottom of the page.

If you have not yet ordered your copy of Battlefields and Blessings, you can order your copy from Amazon here. Click here if you are interested in ordering the Kindle edition. If you aren't too familiar with ebook readers, click here and we'll explain a little more about them to you.

Find out about our other current book discussions at our American History Book Club page.

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War
Reading Guide

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War
by Jane Hampton Cook

Week 3


  • The Reverend Samuel Davies' reflections on war and peace.
  • The introduction of James Otis, prominent attorney and chief prosecutor in the vice-admiralty courts of Massachusetts.
  • James Otis resigns his position in disgust at the enforcement of Writs of Assistance, a legal maneuver that allowed customs officials to search homes for contraband for any reason.
  • Otis defends merchants in court against the writs of assistance, firing up Boston with his rhetoric and becoming a chief voice in the colonies against tyranny in the British government in the process.
  • John Adams recounts how James Otis sparked the Revolution.
  • The French and Indian war comes to an end. Parliament enacts the Sugar Tax to recoup its losses.
  • Seeing the larger picture when you don't understand disappointments.

Discussion Questions

  • Samuel Davies talked about war and fighting as a part of the human condition from the dawn of man. Why does this condition exist in the human heart? What is in the human heart that some people just have to have the stuff that belongs to someone else?
  • John Adams wrote with eloquence about how James Otis had sparked the Revolution in the hearts of many others. The author makes a particularly poignant point about how our words can be used to start a revolution in someone else's heart. Have the words of someone you can think of sparked a revolution in you at some time in your life? How could you spark a revolution in someone else today?
  • James Otis was faced with a situation where he had to choose whether or not to give up his status, income and reputation in defense of a principle he knew to be right. Many people have been faced with such a situation. What situations are you aware of where someone has faced such a trial? How did they respond? Did they make a good choice or a poor one?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • It's interesting to think about how Rev. Davies knew many people who died at Monongahela. It's also interesting to think about how experiencing such a tragedy would personally affect someone. The people who survived 9/11 and those who lost many friends and loved ones in that tragedy come to mind.
  • James Otis is an interesting character. Imagine what a transformation takes place in society when someone in such a prominent position of power stands up publicly and takes a stance that challenges the established power structure. Think of someone like a Supreme Court justice standing up and publicly condemning the President. That's apparently how rending the resignation of James Otis and his defense of the merchants against the King was to New England society.
  • It's interesting to think about how James Otis lost the court battle, but won public opinion. Even though he lost the court battle, his strength, wit and boldness swayed multitudes to his side. Interesting to ponder how you can still win when you lose.


  • "I will to my dying day oppose with all the powers and faculties God has given me, all such instruments as slavery on the one hand, and villainy on the other, as this Writ of Assistance is." - James Otis
  • "The writs thrust a dagger at the heart of British law, and Otis had to submit to his conscience that winter day in 1761. When several customs officials came to his home to ask him to represent them and the writs before the superior court, he had no other choice but to resign."
  • "Otis' fiery oration continued for nearly five hours. At the end, his transformation from a loyal crown advocate to a rebel with a cause was complete. The judges upheld the British government's position, but James Otis won the hearts of Bostonians... His argument was so compelling that most customs officers were afraid to issue Writs of Assistance. The reason? They feared rebellion in Boston.
  • "Then and there was the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the child Independence was born." - John Adams

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Thanks for reading Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War with us. If you have not yet ordered the book, you can order one from Amazon here - Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War
by Jane Hampton Cook

Week 4


  • Samuel Dunbar's sermon is published reminding leaders that God will be with them if they are with Him.
  • The Stamp Act is passed. Martin Howard, a Rhode Island attorney, writes in its defense.
  • Patrick Henry speaks out against the Stamp Act and the Virginia House of Burgesses passes the Virginia Resolutions opposing it.
  • In reaction to the Stamp Act, mobs in Boston burn the homes of officials, including that of Chief Justice Thomas Hutchinson.
  • Justice Hutchinson returns to court the following day in borrowed clothes and asserts that he had nothing to do with the Stamp Act and that his pursuers were unjust and uninformed. Instead, he claims he did everything in his power to stop it.
  • The people of Cambridge pass a resolution condemning the Stamp Act and proclaiming their rights as British citizens.
  • The difference between constructive and destructive responses to anger.

You can read more about the Stamp Act here.

Discussion Questions

  • Modern day Americans have little understanding of how central the church was to daily life for colonial Americans. The church pulpit was one of the primary news sources. Preachers' sermons were published and read like novels are today. Do you see this as beneficial or problematic and why?
  • Martin Howard wrote that, "The jurisdiction of Parliament... is transcendent and entire... Every Englishman, therefore, is subject to this jurisdiction... It is of the essence of government, that there should be a supreme head." What do you think of this idea, an idea held by many British loyalists at the time, that the government is the supreme authority? How did this belief differ from the beliefs of the colonists and modern day Americans?
  • Imagine the alarm some colonists felt as their neighbors became violent against British officials. They valued their freedoms, but also valued decency and the rule of law. What would you think if your neighbors were resorting to violence against unjust laws? How would you have responded to them?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • Attorney Howard wrote, "A stamp duty is confessedly the most reasonable and equitable that can be devised." Again, the extreme underestimation of the ire these measures would inflame.
  • It would be hard to know what to do in Justice Hutchinson's position. Do you enforce the law that everyone is angry with and you don't even approve of yourself? Or do you disregard the law? This was the same position James Otis was in and he chose to resign. Hutchinson didn't and paid the consequences.
  • It showed a whole lot of courage for Hutchinson to return to court the day after his house was burned down and he and his daughter were nearly killed.


  • "The Stamp Act was the first time Parliament had taxed all the colonies. If smuggling was really the target, the tax was akin to the teacher punishing the whole class for the disobedience of a couple of students."
  • "Yet I call God to witness, and I would not, for a thousand worlds, call my Maker to witness to falsehood... that I never, in New England or Old, in Great Britain or America, neither directly nor indirectly, was aiding, assisting, or supporting - in the least promoting or encouraging - what is commonly called the Stamp Act; but, on the contrary, did all in my power, and strove as much as in me lay, to prevent it." - Thomas Hutchinson
  • "It is the opinion of the Town that the inhabitants of this Province have a Legal Claim to all the Natural Inherent Constitutional Rights of Englishmen notwithstanding their distance from Great Britain." - Citizens of Cambridge

Comment on this chapter

Battlefields and Blessings Reading Guide Chapters

Weeks 1 and 2 Weeks 3 and 4 Weeks 5 and 6
Weeks 7 and 8

Thanks for reading Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War with us. If you have not yet ordered the book, you can order one from Amazon here - Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War

Last Updated 4/23/12

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