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Read the Revolution event graphic featuring author John McCurdy's headshot photograph to the right and book covers for his books Vicious and Moral as well as Quarters to the left.

The Museum welcomes author and historian Dr. John Gilbert McCurdy for the next installment of its Read the Revolution Speaker Series on Thursday, June 6, 2024, from 6:30 ­– 8 p.m. The event will serve as a book launch for Vicious and Immoral: Homosexuality, the American Revolution, and the Trials of Robert Newburgh (Johns Hopkins University, 2024), McCurdy’s third published work which explores surprising truths about LGBTQ+ history in early America. Building on research from his second book, Quarters: The Accommodation of the British Army and the Coming of the American Revolution, McCurdy will present the fascinating story of a British Army chaplain’s 1774 trial with a historical discussion on homosexuality and the American Revolution.

On the eve of the Revolutionary War, the British Army considered the case of a chaplain, Reverend Robert Newburgh, who had been accused of having sex with a man. Newburgh's enemies cited his flamboyant appearance, defiance of military authority, and seduction of soldiers as proof of his low character. Consumed by fears that the British Empire would soon be torn asunder, his opponents claimed that these supposed crimes against nature translated to crimes against King George III.

Newburgh's trial offers some clues to understanding a historical peculiarity of the late 1700s and early 1800s: while gay acts were prohibited by law in much of the British Empire, the newly formed United States was comparatively uninterested in legislating against same-sex intimacy. McCurdy imagines what life was like for a gay man in early America and captures the voices of those who loved and hated Newburgh, revealing how sexuality and revolution informed one another. As the first book to place homosexuality in conversation with the American Revolution, Vicious and Immoral dares readers to rethink the place of LGBTQ+ people in the founding of the United States.

This special book launch program will be held in the Museum’s Liberty Hall and will be broadcast live online for ticketed guests. Following the lecture, Museum President and CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson will join McCurdy in conversation and facilitate a live Q&A with both onsite and online audiences.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for onsite guests to see a featured artifact display, enjoy refreshments at a cash bar, and purchase signed copies of the featured books. Onsite tickets for this event include Zoom access and are $20 for general admission and $15 for Museum Members. Online-only tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for Museum Members. Tickets can be purchased here.

The Museum’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series brings celebrated authors and historians to the Museum for lively discussions of their work. The series is based on the Museum’s national Read the Revolution bi-monthly e-newsletters, which feature excerpts from thought-provoking books to inspire learning about the American Revolution.

About John McCurdy

Dr. John Gilbert McCurdy is Professor of History at Eastern Michigan University. He is the author of Vicious and Immoral: Homosexuality, the American Revolution, and the Trials of Robert Newburgh (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2024). McCurdy is also the author of Quarters: The Accommodation of the British Army and the Coming of the American Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2019). Quarters was named 2019 Book of the Year by the Journal of the American Revolution and received a Book Award Honorable Mention from the American Revolution Round Table of Philadelphia. McCurdy is also the author of Citizen Bachelors: Manhood and the Creation of the United States (Cornell University Press, 2009). His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Cambridge World History of Violence, and The Journal of Urban History.

McCurdy received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004. He also holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago and B.A. from Knox College. He has received numerous fellowships including from the British Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the University of Michigan. He has taught at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) since 2005. He has been nominated for several teaching awards, and he received the Faculty Scholarship Award in 2010. He regularly teaches courses in colonial and Revolutionary America, as well as LGBTQ+ history. He currently serves as the EMU History Graduate Coordinator. John McCurdy lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

About Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.