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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the most horrific aspects of the American Revolution occurred within the harbor of New York City, where thousands of American soldiers and patriots suffered and died while imprisoned within a rotting, decommissioned British war ship. In his new book The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution author and historian Dr. Robert Watson weaves together accounts of the brutality of the prison ships from old newspapers, diaries, and military reports. Watson follows the lives of a few survivors of the notorious HMS Jersey to illustrate not only its abominable conditions, but also its surprising role in rallying support for American Independence.
Beginning at daybreak on September 11th, the Battle of Brandywine was one of the largest land battles of the Revolutionary War with 30,000 combatants. The battle took place weeks after the British landed a fleet of over 200 ships on the northern shore of the Chesapeake Bay to begin their attempt to capture Philadelphia.
Present at the battles of Brandywine, Monmouth, Charleston, and Yorktown and known for their green uniforms and unconventional, yet effective military tactics, the Queen’s American Rangers operated as one of the most successful Loyalist regiments throughout the Revolutionary War. Although created by Robert Rogers, a hero of the French and Indian War, it was the unit’s third commander, John Graves Simcoe, who developed the Queen’s Rangers into a successful legion of infantry and cavalry. Simcoe led the Queen’s Rangers from Monmouth to Yorktown.
Accounts of torture, suffering, slaughter, and starvation fill the pages of Holger Hoock’s Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth. By writing “violence back into the story,” Hoock intentionally complicates the traditional narrative of America’s founding and questions the motives of the Revolutionaries, the British, and those unwillingly entangled in the conflict.