From one of our most acclaimed and original colonial historians, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2018 president of the American Historical Association, a groundbreaking book–the first to look at the critical “long year” of 1774 and the revolutionary change that took place from December 1773 to mid-April 1775, from the Boston Tea Party and the first Continental Congress to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
This masterly work of historical writing, Mary Beth Norton’s first in almost a decade, looks at the sixteen months during which the traditional loyalists to King George III began their discordant “discussions” that led to their acceptance of the inevitability of war against the British Empire and to the clashes at Lexington and Concord in mid-April 1775. Drawing extensively on pamphlets, newspapers, and personal correspondence, Norton reconstructs colonial political discourse as it happened, showing the vigorous campaign mounted by conservatives criticizing congressional actions. But by then it was too late. In early 1775, governors throughout the colonies informed colonial officials in London that they were unable to thwart the increasing power of the committees and their allied provincial congresses. Although the Declaration of Independence would not be formally adopted until July 1776, Americans, even before the outbreak of war in April 1775, had in effect “declared independence” by obeying the decrees of their new provincial governments rather than colonial officials. The much-anticipated new book by one of America’s most dazzling historians–the culmination of more than four decades of Norton’s research and thought.
When Americans declared independence in 1776, they cited King George III “for quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.” In Quarters, John Gilbert McCurdy explores the social and political history behind the charge, offering an authoritative account of the housing of British soldiers in America. Providing new interpretations and analysis of the Quartering Act of 1765, McCurdy sheds light on a misunderstood aspect of the American Revolution.
Quarters unearths the vivid debate in eighteenth-century America over the meaning of place. It asks why the previously uncontroversial act of accommodating soldiers in one’s house became an unconstitutional act. In so doing, Quarters reveals new dimensions of the origins of Americans’ right to privacy. It also traces the transformation of military geography in the lead up to independence, asking how barracks changed cities and how attempts to reorder the empire and the borderland led the colonists to imagine a new nation.
Quarters emphatically refutes the idea that the Quartering Act forced British soldiers in colonial houses, demonstrates the effectiveness of the Quartering Act at generating revenue, and examines aspects of the law long ignored, such as its application in the back country and its role in shaping Canadian provinces.
Above all, Quarters argues that the lessons of accommodating British troops outlasted the Revolutionary War, profoundly affecting American notions of place. McCurdy shows that the Quartering Act had significant ramifications, codified in the Third Amendment, for contemporary ideas of the home as a place of domestic privacy, the city as a place without troops, and a nation with a civilian-led military.
Female loyalists occupied a nearly impossible position during the American Revolution. Unlike their male counterparts, loyalist women were effectively silenced—unable to officially align themselves with either side or avoid being persecuted for their family ties. In this book, Kacy Dowd Tillman argues that women’s letters and journals are the key to recovering these voices, as these private writings were used as vehicles for public engagement. Through a literary analysis of extensive correspondence by statesmen’s wives, Quakers, merchants, and spies, Stripped and Script offers a new definition of loyalism that accounts for disaffection, pacifism, neutralism, and loyalism-by-association. Taking up the rhetoric of violation and rape, this archive repeatedly references the real threats rebels posed to female bodies, property, friendships, and families. Through writing, these women defended themselves against violation, in part, by writing about their personal experiences while knowing that the documents themselves may be confiscated, used against them, and circulated.
In a world rife with conflict and tension, how does a great power prosecute an irregular war at a great distance within the context of a regional struggle, all within a global competitive environment? The question, so pertinent today, was confronted by the British nearly 250 years ago during the American War for Independence. And the answer, as this book makes plain, is: not the way the British, under Lieutenant General Charles, Earl Cornwallis, went about it in the American South in the years 1778–81. Southern Gambit presents a closely observed, comprehensive account of this failed strategy. Approaching the campaign from the British perspective, this book restores a critical but little-studied chapter to the narrative of the Revolutionary War—and in doing so, it adds detail and depth to our picture of Cornwallis, an outsize figure in the history of the British Empire.
Distinguished scholar of military strategy Stanley D. M. Carpenter outlines the British strategic and operational objectives, devoting particular attention to the strategy of employing Southern Loyalists to help defeat Patriot forces, reestablish royal authority, and tamp down resurgent Patriot activity. Focusing on Cornwallis’s operations in the Carolinas and Virginia leading to the surrender at Yorktown in October 1781, Carpenter reveals the flaws in this approach, most notably a fatal misunderstanding of the nature of the war in the South and of the Loyalists’ support. Compounding this was the strategic incoherence of seeking a conventional war against a brilliant, unconventional opponent, and doing so amidst a breakdown in the unity of command.
Ultimately, strategic incoherence, ineffective command and control, and a misreading of the situation contributed to the series of cascading failures of the British effort. Carpenter’s analysis of how and why this happened expands our understanding of British decision-making and operations in the Southern Campaign and their fateful consequences in the War for Independence.
An intimate account of the American Revolution as seen through the eyes of a Quaker pacifist couple living in Philadelphia
Historian Richard Godbeer presents a richly layered and intimate account of the American Revolution as experienced by a Philadelphia Quaker couple, Elizabeth Drinker and the merchant Henry Drinker, who barely survived the unique perils that Quakers faced during that conflict. Spanning a half‑century before, during, and after the war, this gripping narrative illuminates the Revolution’s darker side as patriots vilified, threatened, and in some cases killed pacifist Quakers as alleged enemies of the revolutionary cause. Amid chaos and danger, the Drinkers tried as best they could to keep their family and faith intact.
Through one couple’s story, Godbeer opens a window on a uniquely turbulent period of American history, uncovers the domestic, social, and religious lives of Quakers in the late eighteenth century, and situates their experience in the context of transatlantic culture and trade. A master storyteller takes his readers on a moving journey they will never forget.
The story of the Boston Massacre—when on a late winter evening in 1770, British soldiers shot five local men to death—is familiar to generations. But from the very beginning, many accounts have obscured a fascinating truth: the Massacre arose from conflicts that were as personal as they were political.
Professor Serena Zabin draws on original sources and lively stories to follow British troops as they are dispatched from Ireland to Boston in 1768 to subdue the increasingly rebellious colonists. And she reveals a forgotten world hidden in plain sight: the many regimental wives and children who accompanied these armies. We see these families jostling with Bostonians for living space, finding common cause in the search for a lost child, trading barbs and and sharing baptisms. Becoming, in other words, neighbors. When soldiers shot unarmed citizens in the street, it was these intensely human, now broken bonds that fueled what quickly became a bitterly fought American Revolution.
Serena Zabin’s The Boston Massacre delivers an indelible new slant on iconic American Revolutionary history.
In the spring of 1778, General George Washington wrote to his friend Landon Carter about a rumored “disposition in the Northern Officers to see me superceded in my Command.” This was as candid a statement as the general ever made about the so-called Conway Cabal of patriot officers and politicians critical of his leadership. Most early historians of the Revolution took the threat to Washington seriously, but by the mid-twentieth century interpretations had reversed, with the plot—if one existed—posing no real danger to the commander-in-chief. Yet, as historian Mark Edward Lender reveals in his compelling Cabal! The Plot Against General Washington, clues found in original new research provide a more comprehensive understanding of the personalities and political maneuverings of those involved in the Cabal, and the real nature of the challenge to Washington.
Join us on Monday, September 30th as we welcome Mark Edward Lender who will be speaking about his book Cabal!
The Plot Against General Washington . Our meeting place is at Scoogi’s Italian Resturant at 738 Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown. Feel free to arrive early and eat in the back room where our meetings are held. A short business meeting will start around 7:15pm. The presentation will start at 7:30pm. We encourage you to join our membership for the very small and reasonable tax deductible amount of $30. Don’t forget to our book raffle too. Each meeting we raffle off a number of American Revolutionary themed books. You can purchase tickets for the book raffle, $1 per ticket, or $5 for 6 tickets. They money raises goes to pay the room fee and speaker expenses.
Rather than the “classic Cabal” of Generals Horatio Gates, Thomas Mifflin, and Thomas Conway in a plot to remove Washington quickly, the threat to Washington’s command was a gradual administrative attempt by the Board of War and political allies to take over the war effort. Reorganized in late 1777 under the leadership of Mifflin, with Gates assuming the board presidency in January 1778, the Board of War sought authority to determine military policy and strategic goals, all training, organizational, personnel, and logistical functions, and even the assignment of theater commanders. Had they succeeded, Washington’s title of commander-in-chief would have been utterly hollow. The Cabal tested Washington as few other things did during the war and perhaps tempered him into the man we remember today. Washington adroitly navigated the chal¬lenges to his leadership, meeting and defeating every attempt to curtail his authority. His response revealed a leadership style that saw him safely through the war, and gave him overwhelming support from his fellow citizens to become their first president.
Mark Edward Lender holds a Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University. He has written extensively on early American social and military history and is a recognized authority on the War for Independence. Lender’s scholarship has won awards from the Society for Military History and the U.S. Army Historical Foundation and a fellowship from the Smith National Library at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. In 2017 he was a finalist for the prestigious George Washington Literary Prize. Cabal! is his eleventh book.
One of our speaker’s ancestor is Captain Diel Rockefeller who served in the Revolutionary War as an officer in the Albany County NY Militia. In 1777, Diel Rockefeller and the Albany militia, serving alongside of Morgan’s Rifleman, at the Battle of Saratoga, played a critical role. From 1778 through 1781, Indian battles evidence the important role the New York frontier played in the Revolutionary War. In 1780, Rockefeller and the militia was at the battle of Klock’s Field, one of a dozen battles and raids by the Mohawk Indians under Chief Joseph Brant and Sir John Johnson in the Mohawk Valley in retaliation for the Sullivan’s Expedition the previous year.
Join us on Monday, October 28th as we welcome Robert E. Sheridan who will be speaking about Captain Diel Rockefeller and the Albany Militia: Victories at Saratoga and in the Mohawk Valley . Our meeting place is at Scoogi’s Italian Resturant at 738 Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown. Feel free to arrive early and eat in the back room where our meetings are held. A short business meeting will start around 7:15pm. The presentation will start at 7:30pm. We encourage you to join our membership for the very small and reasonable tax deductible amount of $30. Don’t forget to our book raffle too. Each meeting we raffle off a number of American Revolutionary themed books. You can purchase tickets for the book raffle, $1 per ticket, or $5 for 6 tickets. They money raises goes to pay the room fee and speaker expenses.
Robert E. Sheridan is a marine geophysicist and marine geologist who studied the North American Atlantic continental margin for over fifty years. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Rutgers University and a master’s and Ph.D. degrees in marine geophysics from Columbia University. He was an associate professor at the University of Delaware when he was part of the team that discovered the USS Monitor wreck off Cape Hatteras. As a descendant of a Union Army veteran with an interest in Civil War history, his work on the discovery and recovery of the USS Monitor allowed him to combine his vocation with his avocation, the love of history.