1. Read Synopsis:
The Northern Neck played a leadership role in resistance to British regulation throughout the decade before the American Revolution. Its residents included committed activists and later Founding Fathers such as Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Ludwell Lee, Francis Lightfoot Lee, and Landon Carter. When the news of Parliament’s imposition of a stamp tax on the colonies in 1765 reached the Northern Neck, white planters were in an uproar. Courts in at least three counties pledged not to enforce the Stamp Act, and effigies of George Grenville, the British architect of the Stamp Act, and George Mercer, the agent appointed to distribute the stamps in Virginia, were publicly tried and hung before a large crowd outside the Westmoreland courthouse in September 1765. Another display of resistance against the Stamp Act and the English Monarchy occurred at Leeds Town. After a Scottish merchant, Archibald Ritchie, declared publicly that he would comply with the Stamp Act, more than 100 Northern Neck residents convened in Leeds Town to sign resolutions against the Stamp Act and nearly 400 “Sons of Liberty” rode to Hobb’s Hole (present Tappahannock) to confront Ritchie and force him to recant his statement.The events at Leeds Town and Hobbs Hole marked a decisive moment in the mounting American Revolution, demonstrating that even the elite planters of Britain’s wealthiest colony were willing to risk ‘our Lives and Fortunes’ to ensure ‘our Constitutional Rights and Liberties.’ (Leeds Town Resolutions Printed in Van Schreeven, Revolutionary Virginia, 123-124.)
How to use the Map:
Click on the menu icon in the upper left corner of map to reveal map menu. Explore map by clicking on points and lines..
3. Examine Map:
Look at relative locations of roads, houses, churches, courthouses, read descriptions provided of each.
Assign one group member to record the group’s answers.
Using the information in the primary sources, map, and synopsis about the Leedstown Resolves, discuss in your group how the roads, plantations, and gathering places facilitated resistance to the Stamp Act in three areas: Culture, Economy, and Politics.
Use the following questions to guide your discussion:
- Culture: Were there many centers of culture in the Northern Neck? What kinds of meeting places were there? Looking at the images of Menokin and Stratford Hall, we can see that elite planters, or the gentry showed how wealthy they by constructing large elaborate homes. How do you think their cultural style reflects their place in society?
- Politics: How did ideas about revolution spread? Given the wide separation between plantations, how do you think American colonists organized 400 people to protest Archibald Ritchie so quickly? Given how quickly they organized, do you think colonists were already very aware and willing to protest the Stamp Act when this event occurred?
- Economics: How did planters make money? How did Scottish merchants like Archibald Ritchie make money? Why were roads and waterways important to this economic system? Why were the elite planters willing to risk their livelihoods to protest the Stamp Act?