Representing the American Revolution, 1768–1893

Exploring the changing meaning and significance of the American Revolution during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Introduction Did people in the late eighteenth century understand the events of the American Revolution as we understand them now? How did people write the history of the Revolution as the war was occurring? Did people write that history[…]

A Quick Summary of the American War of Independence

In 1775, opposition became armed rebellion. Many of the participants of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, including Benjamin Franklin, assumed that victory over the British would be accomplished with relative ease. ‘You cannot conquer America’ Lord Chatham In reality, as George Washington, who had been granted the command of the newly-raised Continental Army, saw, the[…]

Madam Sacho: How One Iroquois Woman Survived the American Revolution

General George Washington gave the orders to destroy towns and take prisoners in Sullivan’s Campaign, but her story lives on. Soldiers called her many things: “a very old Squaw,” “helpless impotent wretch,” “antediluvian hag.” Only one recorded anything like a name: “Madam Sacho.” Yet we would not even know that much about her if, in[…]

The American Revolution Story Has a Hole the Size of Spain

While the Marquis de Lafayette gets a share of the glory, names like Gardoqui and Gálvez are all but forgotten. Americans like to think of our nation as exceptional in nature, a dramatic break from all that came before it. Being exceptional, it’s inconvenient to acknowledge that two European powers provided invaluable assistance in our[…]

How the Lowly Mosquito Helped America Win Independence

The blood-sucking insect has played a leading role in the rise and fall of empires throughout history. In recent months, millions of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been at work spreading the Zika virus in South and Central America. This summer, millions more, all capable of conveying the virus, will flit and bite throughout the southern U.S. Congress[…]

America Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents

The committee delegated Thomas Jefferson to undertake the task, and he worked diligently in private for days to compose a document. Draft and Prints Jefferson’s letter to Weightman is considered one of the sublime exaltations of individual and national liberty — Jefferson’s vision of the Declaration of Independence and the American nation as signals to[…]

Spanish North American Territories and Borders during the American Revolution

Spanish Presidios and Mexican Leather-Jackets in 1772. Spaniards responded to the unfolding story of the American Revolution with a mixture of trepidation and schadenfreude. Britain was Spain’s dangerous imperial rival. Britain had humiliated France and Spain in the French and Indian War. So Spaniards much enjoyed England’s crisis. But in 1775, the Count of Aranda,[…]

Intelligence and Information Gathering in the American War for Independence

Congress formed secret committees to oversee intelligence operations in the fight against the British. Introduction American Intelligence in the American Revolutionary War was essentially monitored and sanctioned by the Continental Congress to provide military intelligence to the Continental Army to aid them in fighting the British during the American Revolutionary War. Congress created a Secret[…]

The Second Continental Congress: Negotiation Shuts Down, a War Begins

Times had taken a sharp turn for the worse. Lexington and Concord had changed everything. When the Redcoats fired into the Boston crowd in 1775, the benefit of the doubt was granted. Now the professional imperial army was attempting to arrest patriot leaders, and minutemen had been killed in their defense. In May 1775, with[…]

The First Continental Congress: Functioning Government under Strain

Americans were fed up. The “Intolerable Acts” were more than the colonies could stand. In the summer that followed Parliament’s attempt to punish Boston, sentiment for the patriot cause increased dramatically. The printing presses at the Committees of Correspondence were churning out volumes. There was agreement that this new quandary warranted another intercolonial meeting. It[…]