Despite being published over 20 years ago, Philip Morgan’s Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry remains today one of the leading studies on black culture in eighteenth-century America. His work compares slave societies in the Virginia Chesapeake to that of the South Carolina Lowcountry, exploring the contours of black life, such as family, work, diet, medicine, housing, courting, and sex. He finds that slave culture was both African and European, wrought with continuity and adaptation. His thematic approach further reveals the contrast in production in these slave societies—the lowlands cultivated rice and indigo while Virginia became a producer of tobacco and wheat. Morgan concludes by suggesting that although work routines and experiences of slaves were not all that dissimilar in these two regions, perhaps the material treatment of slaves was better in the Lowcountry.
Dr. Benjamin Rush was born in Philadelphia, went to medical school in Scotland, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, surgeon-general in the Continental Army, and a professor of medicine. Besides being a progressive revolutionary, he was also a bold critic of many of his contemporaries, including Washington and Hamilton. In his new book Rush: Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father, Stephen Fried presents Rush as an accomplished and passionate, but sometimes unpolitic, Founder. For example, shortly after he was appointed surgeon-general for the Middle Department in April 1777, he published his thoughts on keeping soldiers in the Continental Army healthy in a Pennsylvania newspaper. Though history would show his advice was largely correct, he did it without letting his superiors in the army review it or even know he was publishing it.
Declaring independence was a distant thought for many Americans in May of 1776. Even after a year of war, their focus was on reclaiming their rights as British citizens, not separating from Britain. Few Americans saw a different path, but those that did pushed America toward independence.
In Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1 – July 4, 1776, William Hogeland explores the personalities, backroom politicking, and passions that ignited our pursuit of liberty. For Hogeland, Samuel Adams was the shadowy mastermind who changed the course of American culture through local politics. As the book begins, Adams, though from Massachusetts, hoped to sway Pennsylvania’s assembly elections in his favor.
Mike Rapport’s The Unruly City immerses readers in the places and spaces of the transatlantic Age of Revolution.
Comparing New York, London, and Paris, Rapport shows how cities became contested ground and hotbeds for reformers and radicals. Ships, travelers, printers, churthes, and taverns caused ideas about political change to churn amongst large, dense, and diverse urban populations. Government buildings and public spaces became arenas of conflict. Rapport argues that the landscapes themselves shaped how revolution took hold or did not take hold in each city.
The American Revolution tore apart communities and families.
Virginia DeJohn Anderson’s book, The Martyr and the Traitor: Nathan Hale, Moses Dunbar, and the American Revolution, adds complexity to our understanding of choosing sides in the Revolutionary era. It was not simply differing opinions on liberty that divided Americans, but religious persuasions, family ties, economic circumstances, and friendships influenced their decision making. DeJohn Anderson shows this through a dual biography of two Connecticut men: the famous Revolutionary Nathan Hale and the less-well-known Loyalist Moses Dunbar.
Archaeological investigations often remind us that some of the most interesting stories lie buried, waiting for an archaeologist to uncover and share them. In her newest book, Archaeology at the Site of the Museum of the American Revolution: A Tale of Two Taverns, historical archaeologist Rebecca Yamin takes readers on tour of the excavations conducted at what was then the future site of the Museum of the American Revolution and what they revealed about the historic residents of the Museum's block from the turn of the eighteenth century through the twentieth century. Yamin begins with a brief timeline of the occupation of the Museum's site.
While it is well-known that the American Revolution began with the two engagements between Massachusetts militia and the British Army at Lexington and Concord, what is not as well-known is the hurry, surprise, and confusion leading to those battles. In Lexington and Concord: The Beginning of the War of the American Revolution Arthur B. Tourtellot takes us on an intimate journey into the events of April 18th through the 20th, 1775. Starting with an overview of the two towns and the situation of the British Army in Boston, he ends the book with a discussion of the immediate aftermath of the battles and how they sparked an armed rebellion. In between, he follows the “midnight riders”, statesmen, soldiers, and civilians involved in an almost hour-by-hour look at the battles. In chapter four Tourtellot provides a detailed description of the Lexington common and the people present at the moment the British Army approached.
Dolley Madison made an indelible imprint on American culture and society in the Early Republic. As historian Catherine Allgor demonstrates in A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation , the First Lady and “Presidentress” became one of the best-known figures in the United States, even earning the title of “America’s Queen.” Madison was, Allgor argues, an innovative and skilled politician, who employed her role as a “lady” and a hostess of social events to cultivate bipartisanship and unite the new nation. For Allgor, Dolley Madison “transformed female submissiveness into a political tool,” and in doing so, fashioned the position of First Lady into one of national and political distinction.
Popular understandings of the American Revolution tend to overlook the contributions of women. In fact, Carol Berkin observes that just three women: Abigail Adams, “Molly Pitcher,” and Betsy Ross, are readily associated with the War. She corrects this “gender amnesia,” as she calls it, in her work, Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence, in which she retells the story of the creation of the new nation through the accounts of individual women. Berkin finds that while women of various races, classes, ages, and backgrounds experienced war differently, they each played a unique and important role in the Revolution.