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Desperate Sons
Book Discussion Guide -
Chapters 10 - 12

Welcome to Chapters 10-12 of our Desperate Sons Book Discussion Guide. Desperate Sons is about the origins and impact of the Sons of Liberty during the American Revolution. We are reading this book as part of our American History Book Club. Best-selling author Les Standiford has written one of the few books dealing with the Sons of Liberty. The book deals with key events that led to the organization of the Sons of Liberty and key characters in their formation.

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Chapters 10 - 12 deal with the continuing protests against the Stamp Act and the Act's eventual repeal by Parliament. Riots continue around the colonies, officials are threatened and the discontented Americans begin to organize into groups known as "Sons of Liberty."

In New York, Governor Moore orders the Navy to seize any ships attempting to get into or out of the harbor without the required stamped paper, bringing business and shipping to a halt. Meanwhile, Sons of Liberty in Connecticut and elsewhere begin to store up ammunition and sign agreements with other cities to come to their aid in case of British military action against them.

In London, the new administration of Lord Rockingham takes measures to get the Stamp Act repealed, including organizing merchants whose businesses have been hurt by the Stamp Act to appeal to their members of Parliament for a repeal. Ben Franklin is examined by Parliament and his testimony helps convince the members that trying to enforce the Stamp Act is futile.

Finally, the dreaded Stamp Act is repealed, but the ominous Declaratory Act is passed along with it, declaring that Parliament does indeed have the authority to tax the colonies "in all situations whatsoever." Most colonists celebrate the repeal, while some are alarmed by the obvious portent of the Declaratory Act.

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

This page has Chapters 10 - 12 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 10 - 12:

Hornets and Firebrands
From Airy Nothing and...
First to Blink


  • Peace returns to New York after Governor Colden turns over the Stamps.
  • Riots over the Stamps occur in New Hamsphire, North Carolina, Philadelphia and other places.
  • New Governor Moore gives orders to the navy to seize any ships attempting to leave New York without the required stamps causing a protest and the burning of Lord Grenville's effigy on the common.
  • Business comes to a standstill as no stamps can be issued and ships remain at port, refusing to leave and be seized.
  • The Sons of Liberty begin to organize in cities across the colonies. They form committees of correspondence, punish local violators of their wishes and set up defense pacts with other cities.
  • Lord Rockingham begins efforts to have the Stamp Act repealed.
  • Ben Franklin testifies before Parliament.
  • The Stamp Act is repealed on March 18, 1766, but the ominous Declaratory Act is passed along with it.

Discussion Questions

  • When Governor Moore arrived in New York, he dismantled the defenses at Fort George and ordered the navy to seize any ships leaving without stamps, causing business to come to a halt. He wanted to reduce the strife, but also enforce the Stamp Act. What should he have done or did he make the right choices?
  • As the Sons of Liberty began to organize and punish local offenders who attempted to sell or use stamps, if you were a local merchant, ship owner or captain or government official, what would you have done?
  • If you were a member of Parliament, would you have voted to repeal the Stamp Act, or would you have voted to continue to try to enforce the Act, in spite of the way the colonists were reacting?
  • If you were a colonist, what would you have thought of the Declaratory Act, which was passed along with the repeal of the Stamp Act and reasserted Parliament's authority to tax the colonies?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • It's interesting that Lt. Montresor was given the task of surveying the town and the harbor. Obviously this action was taken so the British would have a detailed map of the area in case further hostilities broke out.
  • The discontent of British merchants who were suffering from the Stamp Act due to decreased business was the primary reason Parliament repealed the Stamp Act.
  • Ben Franklin's examination before Parliament is truly amazing. His wit shines through and you can almost see the seething resentment and frustration of the members as they question him. You can read the transcript of Franklin's examination here.
  • The power of the Sons of Liberty is revealed by the fact that not a single citizen would hire his boat to General Gage to remove military supplies from New York to ships in the harbor.


  • "On December 8, John Montresor wrote in his journal, 'The Sons of Liberty they term themselves, openly defying powers, office and all authority.'"
  • "What Sears was asking of his counterparts in Connecticut was a pledge that the people there would come to the aid of New York in the event Grenville followed through on his threat to send troops to enforce the Stamp Act."
  • "Inside two years, then, vague discontent, polite protest, and petition by lawfully appointed colonial assemblies and trade agents to Parliament transformed into the formation of paramilitary guerrila organizations, ready to do battle with the British."
  • "'I rejoice that America has resisted.' Had the three million in the colonies been content 'to submit to be slaves,' they would have provided the precedent to make slaves of every British subject."
  • "In New York, General Gage tried to move the powder and guns stored on shore to the warships in the harbor, where they would be less likely to fall into the hands of the Sons. It might have been a wise idea, but not a single local craft could be hired for the purpose."

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 1/14/13

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