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Desperate Sons
Book Discussion Guide -
Chapters 22 - 24

Welcome to Chapters 22-24 of our Desperate Sons Book Discussion Guide. We are reading Desperate Sons as part of our American History Book Club. Desperate Sons is about the rise of the Sons of Liberty movement prior to the American Revolution and their influence on the politics of the colonies and the outbreak of the war. This is one of the only books that delves into the origins of the Sons of Liberty and we are in the debt of author Les Standiford for providing this book for us.

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Chapters 22-24 deal with the inception of the First Continental Congress and the outbreak of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord. The Continental Congress opens in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774. There are deep divisions between the more radical delegates from Massachusetts and Virginia, and the more moderate representatives from New York and Pennsylvania. The Rev. Jacob Duché opens Congress with a prayer asking that their enemies be like "chaff before the wind."

Congress writes a letter to King George declaring their loyalty to him, but state that they will not obey the demands of the Intolerable Acts or pay Parliament's taxes. King George refuses their demands and his administration gives General Gage in Boston permission to use force against the colonists for the first time to put down the rebellion.

Congress encourages a colonies-wide boycott of all trade with England. This causes great strife within the various factions of each colony who disagree on the degree to which the boycott should be enforced. Towns across the colonies set up watch committees to make sure their neighbors comply with the boycott and publicly expose all who won't comply.

General Gage plans a mission to capture military supplies stored at Concord, Massachusetts by the rebel assembly, but word of his plans reaches the patriots. Paul Revere sets off on his infamous midnight ride to warn the countryside that the British are coming. Revere succeeds in warning John Hancock and Samuel Adams, but is captured by a British patrol. After his release, he is present when the fighting erupts at Lexington.

British soldiers kill ten minutemen at Lexington and march on to find the hidden weapons at Concord. After finding little, a thousand minutemen descend on Concord and begin firing on the soldiers, chasing them back to Boston with a lot of horrific fighting along the way.

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

This page has Chapters 22-24 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 22 - 24:

Congress of Sons
Shot Around the World and...
The Conqueror Silent Sleeps


  • The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia to discuss how to respond to the hated Intolerable Acts. Massachusetts and Virginia lead the way in promoting colonial unity and a boycott of all trade with England. Pennsylvania and New York are more moderate and push for reconciliation instead.
  • Rev. Jacob Duché opens the Congress with prayer and Charles Thomson of Philadelphia is chosen as Congress' secretary.
  • Massachusetts passes the Suffolk Resolves, in which the citizens refuse to comply with any of the Intolerable Acts and to arm every town. Congress endorses the Resolves.
  • Congress addresses a Declaration of Rights and Grievances to King George, affirming their loyalty to him, but refusing to comply with the Intolerable Acts and pledging to ban all trade with Great Britain until they are rescinded.
  • The colonies institute a massive boycott of all trade to and from Britain. They set up very strict committees of observation to watch fellow citizens to make sure they comply, pledging to publish the names of those who do not and to use force to compel compliance if necessary.
  • King George refuses the colonists Declaration of Rights and Grievances and Parliament hardens its attitude toward the colonies. Lord Dartmouth issues orders to General Gage to capture the rebel leaders in Massachusetts and to use force if necessary to put down the rebellion.
  • Internecine battles erupt in each colony amongst patriots about how far to go in enforcing the non-importation agreement.
  • Patrick Henry delivers his "Give me Liberty or give me death speech" to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
  • General Gage receives word that he may use force against the rebels and begins planning the mission to Concord.
  • Paul Revere and Joseph Warren notice signs of an impending military assault. They warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams in Lexington and they hide the military supplies in Concord around town.
  • Paul Revere sets off on his midnight ride on April 18, 1775 when the British begin their march to Lexington. He warns Hancock and Adams and is captured on his way to Concord.
  • Revere is let go, helps Hancock and Adams escape to Medford and is present at Lexington when the battle begins.
  • Ten colonists are killed and another nine injured in the Battle of Lexington, while only one British soldier is wounded.
  • The soldiers move to Concord and begin searching for the hidden weapons. Colonists fire on them and chase them back to Boston.
  • The Siege of Boston begins.
  • Samuel Adams celebrates because the conflict has finally begun.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think the colonists held such animosity toward Catholicism?
  • If you were a colonist who did not agree with the Continental Congress, how might you have responded to the boycott which forbade you from buying and selling whatever you wanted and threatened to publish your name for public humiliation or worse if you did not comply?
  • Paul Revere put his own life at enormous risk and was nearly killed when he was captured by British troops. If you had been in his situation, would you have risked your life to bring the message to your leaders that troops were on the way to capture them?
  • What thoughts might have been going through your head if you were a citizen of Lexington when the British soldiers approached your town?
  • What thoughts might have been running through your head if you were one of the soldiers when you heard the colonists were armed and waiting for your arrival?
  • What do you think of Samuel Adams' "rejoicing" upon hearing that the war had finally begun in Lexington? Was he celebrating death and carnage or the fact that the patriots now had the opportunity to kick their oppressors out?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • Sam Adams' popularity is often overlooked. The fact that numerous citizens bought him a new suit, new shoes, a new wig and put spending money in his pocket for his trip to Philadelphia is quite telling!
  • Part of Jacob Duché's opening prayer at the First Continental Congress: "Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help. Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt. Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them. For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul. Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall. And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation." - Psalm 35:1-9
  • Isn't it an interesting fact that Paul Revere's role in the Revolution went largely unnoticed until a poem was written about him a hundred years later?
  • There are so many little known facts about Paul Revere's life... he was captured during his famous midnight ride, he was present when the fighting began at Lexington, he was sent on numerous missions to New York and Philadelphia from the Massachusetts Assembly...
  • The purpose of this book is not to describe the battles of April 18 in detail, but as we read in Paul Revere's Ride, the British soldiers were picked off one by one and ambushed numerous times on their way back to Boston. They were weeping and terrified. As they neared Boston, they went on a rampage from home to home killing anyone they came across. It was quite a horrific scene.


  • "Despite the full force of the British government and the efforts of every loyalist in the provinces, the agenda of the Sons of Liberty now transcended local politics and became the guiding policy of the colonies as a whole."
  • "In order to achieve liberty, it seemed understood, liberty would necessarily be curtailed."
  • "Colonel Edward Carrington, listening outside a window of the church where the burgesses were meeting, wrote that Henry's oration had been so transcendent that he thought no experience was ever likely to exceed it. 'Right here I wish to be buried,' he said."
  • "For the first time in the history of the conflict, a British commander was given the go-ahead to use force against the colonists."
  • "Revere and Lowell hurried out of the tavern with the trunk, weaving their way through the ranks of local Minutemen who were rushing to draw a line of defense at Lexington Common."
  • "Though the fighting was brief it was intense, and it was deadly. Ten Minutemen lay dead on Lexington Common and nine more were injured. They were the first official casualties of the Revolutionary War."
  • "Soon Boston was surrounded, and the siege of the city would last for nearly a year, until March 17, 1776, when British Commander William Howe, after a long stalemate with the newly constituted Continental Army commanded by George Washington, finally withdrew his troops to Nova Scotia. The war that had so many times been foreshadowed was at last under way."
  • "Certainly, Adams would over time be reviled as an ultimate propagandist and rabble-rouser, but at the same time he is identified by many as the one individual above all who guided the country to a revolution that is alternately regarded as glorious, bloody, and inevitable."

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 1/25/13

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