Read the Revolution

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

January 20, 2015

Battle of Cowpens

Lawrence E. Babits' A Devil of a Whipping transports us to South Carolina on January 17, 1781. After suffering a series of southern losses, the Americans finally achieved victory at the Battle of Cowpens. In this excerpt we see the start of this memorable battle, in the words of the men who fought it.

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January 6, 2015

Common Sense

This month marks the 239th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Paine's influential pamphlet Common Sense. Written by Paine less than two years after he emigrated to Philadelphia from England, Common Sense outlined the need for American independence. Today's excerpt comes from the section "Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs."

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December 23, 2014

Valley Forge

The Continental Army endured incredible hardships at their winter encampment in Valley Forge from 1777-1778, while 20 miles away the British reveled in their occupation of Philadelphia. This excerpt from Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life shows General George Washington uneasily deciding on Valley Forge as the place to house his troops until the spring.

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December 9, 2014

Remembering the Tea Party

The first of two essays in Alfred F. Young's The Shoemaker and the Tea Party shows the contributions of ordinary people to the American Revolution by focusing on the life of George Robert Twelves Hewes. Here is Hewes' recollection of the Tea Party, much of it in his own words.

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November 18, 2014

The Divided Ground

The Divided Ground features an important ally in the War of Independence: the Oneida Nation. For more than a century before the American Revolution, the Oneida and other Iroquois nations had skillfully played French and British colonial powers off one another in order to defend their lands and sovereignty. Tragically, this strategy sometimes brought Iroquois people into conflict among themselves.

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November 4, 2014

Negotiating Peace

Establishing formal peace between Britain and America required lengthy and complicated negotiations. In this excerpt from David McCullough's John Adams , we travel to Paris in the fall of 1782, where Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay begin talks with the British to officially end the war.

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October 21, 2014

The New Jersey Campaign

Innumerable places in the United States bore witness to the events of the American Revolution—from battle sites and encampments to taverns and universities. In The American Revolution: A Historical Guidebook, Frances H. Kennedy ambitiously describes more than 100 of these landmarks.

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October 7, 2014


On September 19, 1777, and October 7, 1777, two important battles were fought near Saratoga, New York. While the British won the first battle, in the second attack, American forces claimed a decisive victory, surrounding and trapping the British forces. In this excerpt from Richard M. Ketchum's Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War we see the British begin the long march to finalize their surrender.

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September 23, 2014

The First American

In this excerpt from H. W. Brands’ The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin we see the founding father presenting the first draft for the Articles of Confederation to the Continental Congress.

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September 9, 2014

The Battle of Brandywine

On September 11, 1777, British troops led by General Sir William Howe defeated General George Washington's American army in a particularly gruesome fight known as the Battle of Brandywine. John Ferling's Almost A Miracle shares soldiers' awed reactions to the resulting carnage.

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