Myths of the American Revolution

A noted historian debunks the conventional wisdom about America’s War of Independence. Introduction We think we know the Revolutionary War. After all, the American Revolution and the war that accompanied it not only determined the nation we would become but also continue to define who we are. The Declaration of Independence, the Midnight Ride, Valley[…]

Paul Revere and the Boston Massacre as a Flashpoint for Revolution

What do the ghosts of that bloody history whisper to us now? At this moment that feels like a hinge in history—when America will swing either toward authoritarianism or toward a more just and liberal democracy—the ghosts of history rise up and speak to us. Five of those ghosts lay in the snowy gutters of[…]

Ebenezer Mackintosh: Shoemaker, Gang Leader, Rioter, Founding Father

Mackintosh played a key role in riots and other events related to the protest and eventual repeal of the Stamp Act in March 1766. Where it is: The marker can be seen in North Haverhill, just east of Horse Meadows Cemetery. It’s on the west side of Route 10, about 1.7 miles south of the[…]

Falling Sacrifice to Despotism: Virginia and the Intolerable Acts of 1774

These acts worked, inadvertently, towards unifying colonists against British policy. Abstract The purpose of my project is to analyze how Virginians responded to the Intolerable Acts of 1774, which were mostly aimed towards Boston and Massachusetts. This analysis consists mainly of coal county and town resolutions passed during the summer of 1774 in response to[…]

Philosophy of the American Revolution

It can be traced, in part, to the Enlightenment and its profound impact on colonial thinking. Political The Revolution generated radical changes in the principles, opinions, and sentiments of the American people. New ideas and issues affected social customs, political ideals, and gender and racial roles as the thirteen colonies evolved into the United States.[…]

Ethan Allen and His Green Mountain Boys Militia in the American Revolution

The original Green Mountain Boys were a militia in what is now Vermont in the decade prior to the American Revolutionary War. Introduction The Green Mountain Boys was a militia organization first established in the late 1760s in the territory between the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, known as the New Hampshire[…]

Rebels with a Cause: The Continental Army and the American Revolution

Soldiers were typically yeoman farmers with a sense of honor and status and an ideological commitment to oppose British tyranny. Introduction The Continental Army was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the former British colonies that later became the United States of America. Established by a[…]

‘To Protect at a Minute’s Notice’: Minutemen in Colonial America

The term has also been applied to various later civilian paramilitary forces trying to recall the success and patriotism of the originals. Introduction Minutemen were civilian colonists who independently organized to form militia companies self-trained in weaponry, tactics, and military strategies from the American colonial partisan militia during the American Revolutionary War. They were known[…]

I Spy Something Free

Women spies of the American Revolution. Introduction Throughout the Revolutionary War, there are stories of heroism; those who sacrificed to save others, those who put their lives on the line to warn of impending danger. The vast majority of these stories involve men. But there are countless extraordinary women who risked and sacrificed just as[…]

The Cookbook That Declared America’s Culinary Independence

An 18th-century guide taught Americans how to eat simply but sumptuously. By Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald American Cookery, published by the “orphan” Amelia Simmons in 1796, was the first cookbook by an American to be published in the United States. Its 47 pages (in the first edition) contained fine recipes for roasts—stuffed goose, stuffed[…]

Loyalist Lawyers: Exiles from the American Revolution

These men fled to a variety of destinations, including modern-day Canada, the Caribbean, and France. I’m investigating lawyers who lived in 18th century Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston. Towards the end of the century, these individuals took a leading role in conducting the American Revolution, and also in the creation of the legal structures that became[…]

“Join or Die”: Facts about Benjamin Franklin’s Famous Revolutionary Image

Why aren’t Delaware and Georgia included and why did he combine four northeastern colonies into one? The “Join, or Die” snake, a cartoon image printed in numerous newspapers as the conflict between England and France over the Ohio Valley was expanding into war—”the first global war fought on every continent,” as Thomas Bender recently has[…]

Harriet Prudence Patterson: American Revolution Spy in a Petticoat

Corroborating Prudence’s wartime adventures is difficult. Introduction Prudence Patterson was born in 1743 (either in Wales or in County Antrim, Ireland) and emigrated to America with her parents. In 1763, she married another immigrant, John Hall, in York, South Carolina. They had eight or nine children. Their children’s names were James, John, Prudence, Jennet, Margaret,[…]

Lord North and the Intolerable Acts: Stepping Stone to Revolution

Many colonists viewed the acts as an arbitrary violation of their constitutional rights. Introduction The Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts were names given by colonists in the Thirteen Colonies to a series of laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774. The acts were met with outrage and resistance in the colonies and were[…]

Mad King George and the Fall of Monarchy in America

While tremendously popular in Britain, George was hated by rebellious American colonists. Introduction George III (George William Frederick; June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from October 25, 1760 until January 1, 1801, and thereafter King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until[…]

The American Revolution: Loudly Telling Mother Goodbye

Establishing a nation in which the people were sovereign and the aristocracy had no place. The North American Colonies and the British Empire The European countries of Spain, France and Britain all had important interests in North America, not least because these colonies promised future wealth and were strategically important to the sugar, tobacco and[…]

George Washington’s Perilous Christmas Night Crossing of the Delaware

Washington’s crossing of the Delaware on Christmas night 1776 led to victory, but terrible weather led to more casualties than the battle. Introduction For most people today, Christmas is a time of food, family and festivities, when attention turns from work and woes to fellowship and celebration. Yet it has not always been so. In[…]

How the Townshend Brothers Accidentally Sparked the American Revolution

The British chancellor and exchequer and his soldier sibling pushed the interests of the empire at the expense of loyal colonialists. Americans normally see our Revolution as the culmination of a long period of gestation during which a free people finally threw off their colonial shackles and became what they were destined to be. On[…]

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[…]