Join us throughout A Revolutionary Summer with exhibits, crafts, and activities for visitors of all ages. Plan Your Visit

Dismiss notification
Read the Revolution event graphic featuring book covers for John Barry and Give Me A Fast ship alongside a headshot of author Tim McGrath.

Discussion and Q+A Will Be Held in the Museum’s Liberty Hall and Livestreamed Online

Event Kicks Off the 2023-24 Season of the Museum’s Popular Read the Revolution Speaker Series

Award-winning author Tim McGrath will join the Museum of the American Revolution on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. for a special presentation, titled “‘What Think You of an American Fleet?’: The Rise and Fall of the Continental Navy,” to kick off the Museum's 2023-24 Read the Revolution Speaker Series.

Drawing on two of his award-winning books, Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America’s Revolution at Sea and John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail, McGrath will explore the life of Commodore John Barry (1745-1803) and his role in the Continental Navy, our first official naval force.

In connection with the Museum’s special exhibit, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, McGrath will also discuss how the rise and fall of the Continental Navy, and Barry’s experiences, intersect with privateer James Forten’s Revolutionary War service at sea and help us to define American military and political leadership in the United States today.

This hybrid program will be held in the Museum’s Liberty Hall and will be livestreamed online for ticketed guests. Following the presentation, Museum President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson will join the conversation to facilitate a discussion with McGrath, as well as a Q&A with onsite and online audiences.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for onsite guests to meet with representatives from Independence Seaport Museum, enjoy refreshments at a cash bar, purchase signed copies of the featured books, and see a special display of artifacts from the Museum collection, including a blank prize money certificate signed “John Barry, Capt.” and a letter addressed to Captain Barry in 1781. Guests are also invited to arrive at 5:30 p.m. for an optional tour to see Commodore John Barry’s sword on view in the Museum’s core exhibition, which is on loan from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Revolution Society members are invited to a complimentary reception with the author at 5:30 p.m.

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 Commodore John Barry
Born the son of a farmer in County Wexford, Ireland, Barry arrived as a sailor in Philadelphia before 1760 and commanded naval forces for the Continental cause during the Revolutionary War. Named by President George Washington as the first commissioned officer in the new United States Navy, Barry continued his military service alongside Samuel Nicholson, first captain of frigate Constitution, and Philadelphian Richard Dale, First Mate aboard John Paul Jones’s Bonhomme Richard, and several other officers who served in both the Continental Navy and the United States Navy. Barry ended his career during America’s naval war with France and was buried with full military honors in Philadelphia’s Old St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Churchyard.

About Tim McGrath
Tim McGrath is a recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature and a two-time winner of the Commodore John Barry Award for Maritime Literature, honoring John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail (2010) and Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America’s Revolution at Sea (2014). His latest book is James Monroe: A Life (2020). He is currently at work on Four Days at Gettysburg, which explores the decisions made by President Abraham Lincoln, General Robert E. Lee, and Major General George Gordon Meade before, during, and after the Battle of Gettysburg and their consequences. McGrath serves on the Board of Port Wardens at Independence Seaport Museum and previously served as a board member of Fort Mifflin on the Delaware. He lives outside Philadelphia.

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 or call 877.740.1776.