Read the Revolution

curated collection of excerpts from exciting, thought-provoking books about the American Revolution

February 14, 2018

Passion is the Gale

In the eighteenth century, love letters were not always meant for your lover's eyes only. Rather public expressions of love and affection were common during a courtship. We learn in this week's featured excerpt, that as courting men and women navigated a romantic relationship, they were also in a delicate negotiation of power.

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January 24, 2018

Most Blessed of the Patriarchs

In a 1793 letter to Angelica Schuyler Church in 1793, Thomas Jefferson described himself as "the most blessed of the patriarchs," a revealing sentiment that provides a window into the mindset of one of America's most famous founding fathers.

As a republican patriot and plantation patriarch, the contradictions of Thomas Jefferson's private and public worlds continue to fascinate and confound. Two of the leading scholars of Thomas Jefferson, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, collaborated to produce an insightful study of how Jefferson understood himself and his life's work as a revolutionary, politician, president, and slaveholder. 'Most Blessed of the Patriarchs': Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination, offers readers an intimate and provocative exploration of Thomas Jefferson's progression through life.

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January 10, 2018

I Survived the American Revolution

When eleven-year-old Nathaniel Fox runs away from his cruel uncle, he finds himself alone in New York City in the middle of the Revolutionary War! Young Nate soon meets an old friend and joins up with a Connecticut regiment as a camp helper. As he settles into camp life, chopping wood, digging trenches, and hauling water for the Continental Army, Nate learns more about the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and, of course, hears stories about the feared Hessian soldiers and their deadly bayonets. Yet, Nate's courage will soon be tested as he and the Continental Army prepare for the Battle of Brooklyn.

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December 27, 2017

The Common Cause

At the outset of the Revolutionary War, the differences between the thirteen American colonies seemed insurmountable and the likelihood of them uniting together to defeat a global superpower appeared to be impossible. The leaders of the Revolutionary movement recognized that they would need a ‘common cause’ to unify the people politically. In The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution, Robert G. Parkinson explores the creation and propagation of a ‘common cause,’ crafted by Patriot leaders, to rally colonists from South Carolina to Massachusetts against a common enemy.

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December 13, 2017

Don Troiani’s Soldiers of the American Revolution

From the insignia on a soldier’s coat buttons to the shape of their cap, Don Troiani’s Soldiers of the American Revolution brings to the life the soldiers and battles of the Revolutionary War. Surviving objects and primary source descriptions of the uniforms, weapons, and accessories of the Revolutionary War serve as Troiani’s source material for his full-color illustrations of British, American, Oneida, and Hessian soldiers presented in various poses and scenes. A historical artist specializing in military paintings of the American Revolution and the Civil War, Troiana shows his work by featuring his original paintings of soldiers alongside the actual objects he studied in his artistic recreations.

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November 22, 2017

Double Feature: Gingerbread

Take a break from Thanksgiving preparations to learn about a classic American dessert- Gingerbread! We’ve whipped up a delicious double feature for this week’s Read the Revolution email with tempting and intriguing stories about our early American culinary history.

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November 8, 2017

Revolution Against Empire

In Revolution Against Empire: Taxes, Politics, and the Origins of American Independence, Justin du Rivage argues that the American Revolution was about more than the simple “no taxation without representation” slogan. Essentially, he argues that the violent break between Great Britain and its colonies was the product of a fierce ideological debate taking place throughout the eighteenth century over the question of “what kind of empire the British Empire would become.” In the decades leading up to the Declaration of Independence, this ideological debate regarding issues of taxation, public debt, and inequality raged on both sides of the Atlantic. The author seeks to reposition American Independence as part of this larger political debate over the fate of the British Empire by focusing on three rival political factions and their competing and incompatible visions of empire that dominated the political environments of Great Britain and its colonies from Boston to Bengal.

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October 25, 2017

The Burning of His Majesty’s Schooner Gaspee

Over one year before the Boston Tea Party, a group of colonial protestors captured and burned a British naval schooner stationed in Rhode Island waters. The Burning of His Majesty’s Schooner Gaspee: An Attack on Crown Rule Before the American Revolution by Steven Park examines this oft-forgotten moment that helped accelerate tensions between Great Britain and its American colonies. In early 1772, British Lieutenant William Dudingston arrived in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay abroad the HMS Gaspee and aggressively enforced customs collections and cargo inspections.. Dudingston cracked down on American smugglers, but he also incited anger among colonists by harassing some lawful ships. Park’s volume surveys the hostilities leading up to the colonial retaliation against the Gaspee and repositions the episode as a pivotal spark that re-ignited colonial resistance to British authority in the early-1770s.

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October 11, 2017

Braddock's Defeat

In 1754, the French and British were in the midst of a rush to control the strategically important Ohio River Valley. That year, the French established a series of forts in what is now western Pennsylvania. The French forts included Fort Duquesne, near the Forks of the Ohio River where modern-day Pittsburgh is located.  Tasked with capturing the French strongholds, British General Edward Braddock marched west with an army of British soldiers, Indian allies, and American provincial troops and began a campaign that would soon end in failure. On July 9, 1755, French and Native American warriors from Fort Duquesne deftly defeated Braddock’s forces and mortally wounded the British general at the Battle of the Monongahela. The French  retained control of the Ohio Valley in the wake of their victory. As the first major battle of the French and Indian War , the Battle of the Monongahela, remembered as Braddock’s Defeat, ended in a shocking loss for the British Army and accelerated the conflict into a global war.

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September 27, 2017

A Revolution in Color

Jane Kamensky’s, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley, paints an intimate and vivid portrait of the painter who came to prominence against the backdrop of the Revolutionary period. An artist, best known on this side of the Atlantic for his portraits of future American Revolutionaries such as Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams, John Singleton Copley did not share their revolutionary zeal.

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