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Desperate Sons
Book Discussion Guide -
Chapters 7 - 9

Welcome to Chapters 7 - 9 of our Desperate Sons Book Discussion Guide. We are reading Desperate Sons by author Les Standiford as part of our American History Book Club. The book looks into the history of the Sons of Liberty movement during and leading up to the American Revolution. It is one of the only books on the subject and looks at key players such as John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry.

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Chapters 7 - 9 deal with the protests against the Stamp Act. After the home of Massachusetts' Lieutenant Governor, Thomas Hutchinson was destroyed, the violence spread to other cities such as Newport, Rhode Island, Charleston, South Carolina and New York City.

In New York, the Stamp Act Congress meets and publishes its Declaration of Rights. When the stamps arrive in New York, Governor Cadwallader Colden is forced to house the stamps at Fort George for their protection. Several other governors have already told him not to send their stamps. Colden fortifies the fort and local officials take precautions for their own safety.

On November 1, 1765, the day the Stamp Act takes effect, a mob riots against Colden, burning him in effigy and destroying his carriage. They also destroy the home of Major Thomas James, commander of Fort George. Colden is finally forced to relent and turns the stamps over to the local city council to the cheers of 5,000 people in the streets!

If you have not yet ordered your copy of Desperate Sons, you can order a copy from Amazon here.

This page has Chapters 7 - 9 of our reading guide. You can also go to the first page and start reading with us from the beginning here - Desperate Sons Book Discussion Guide.

Find other book discussion guides on our American History Book Club page.

Desperate Sons by Les Standiford

Chapters 7 - 9:

Strong Drink in Plenty
Murderer of Rights and Privileges and...
Morning After


  • Discontent with the Stamp Act spreads to Rhode Island and officials are burned in effigy and have their homes ransacked.
  • The Stamp Act Congress meets in New York and publishes its Declaration of Rights stating the rights and grievances of the colonists.
  • Discontent spreads to Charleston, South Carolina where officials are burned in effigy and have their homes ransacked.
  • Stamps arrive in New York and are held at Fort George. Officials strengthen its defenses and guard their personal property.
  • On the day the Stamp Act was to go into effect, New Yorkers riot against the Governor, burning his carriage, burning him in effigy and ransacking the home of Major James, the head of Fort George.
  • Governor Colden finally relents and turns over the stamps at Fort George to the New York City council.

Discussion Questions

  • All the stamp distributors in the colonies resigned their positions as violence was directed at them. What would you have done in their position and why?
  • Many merchants met and agreed not to import items from Britain during the lead up to the war. Should the colonists have put more emphasis on this tactic and allowed more time for it to work, instead of resorting to violence against British officials to get their goals accomplished?
  • If you had been Governor Colden, would you have given the stamps to the citizens as they demanded? Why or why not?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • Many people may not know that Rhode Island was a hotbed of discontent leading up to the Revolution. Numerous acts of violence against officials occurred there. Rhode Island was involved in the rebellion to the degree that Britain occupied Newport for much of the war to quell the unrest.
  • Some people may not realize that one of the main grievances of the colonists had to do with admiralty courts, naval courts that were given authorization to try customs cases. Admiralty courts were often far away from the jurisdiction where the crime was alleged and were run by royally appointed judges. This took away the tradition of being tried locally by one's peers and was a major instigation of the Revolutionary War.
  • It's pretty remarkable that all the stamp distributors had resigned by November 1st, the day the Stamp Act was to take effect.
  • The fact that 5,000 people attended the turning over of the stamps to the city council shows how widespread the discontent with the Stamp Act really was.


  • "...The discontent underlying the disturbances in Boston and Newport was incubating like a fever throughout the colonies."
  • "The People of this City and Province of New York, have been inform'd that you bound yourself under an Oath to be the Chief Murderer of their Rights and Privileges... We can with certainty assure you of your Fate if you do not this Night Solemnly make Oath... that you never will, directly or indirectly, by any Act of yours... introduce or execute the Stamp-Act... So help you God."
  • "The first man that either distributes or makes use of Stampt Paper, let him take Care of his House, Person, and Effects. We dare."
  • "Explaining to Major James that "I could not stand single..." "I delivered the packages..." "Seven boxes of stamps were delivered proceeded to the City Hall in Carts and deposited there and attended by 5,000 people."

Comment on this chapter

Desperate Sons Book Discussion Guide Chapters

Chapters 1 - 3 Chapters 4 - 6 Chapters 7 - 9
Chapters 10 - 12 Chapters 13 - 15 Chapters 16 - 18
Chapters 19 - 21 Chapters 22 - 24 Chapters 25 - 26

Thanks for reading Desperate Sons with us. If you have not yet ordered the book and would like to, you can order from Amazon here.

Find other book discussion guides on our American History Book Club page.

Published 1/8/13

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