Zebina Montague Letter

Original content by: Kathleen Neumann

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About This Document

On May 18th, 1775, on the heels of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Zebina Montague sat down to record his thoughts on the developments of the American Revolution in a letter to his cousin, John Montague, who was living in Sunderland, MA. The fighting had begun only weeks before, and Zebina was both anxious for news from his cousin and eager to share what he himself had learned.

In the letter to John, Zebina expressed his happiness at the victory of the American militia men over the British troops in the Battle of Lexington, as well as his disgust over the actions of the British Parliament, particularly Lord North's Fishery Bill. Zebina firmly resolved to stand against Great Britain, risking his property and his life in support of the rebellion if necessary.

Reading by Chris White.

Historical Context

In the second half of the 18th century, tension between Great Britain and the American colonies led to a war that ultimately divided the two into two distinct nations. With the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the British Parliament decided that the thirteen British colonies of North America would need to contribute more to their own maintenance and defense. To achieve these ends, Parliament began imposing a series of direct taxes on the colonies.  More...

Questions for Further Thought

  1. How do you think the colonists who remained loyal to the British crown during the American Revolution felt following the battles at Lexington and Concord?
  2. Zebina Montague said that he was willing to risk his life in opposition to Great Britain. Do you agree that there are causes that are worth risking one's life? Would you have been willing to join the fight either against or in defense of Great Britain?
  3. How do you think the people of Massachusetts and men like Zebina Montague reacted when they learned that Nantucket wanted to remain neutral during the American Revolution?