Jim Christ

Oct 312021
 

On Line Meeting (7:00pm Zoom opens) (7:30pm Lecture begins)

The speaker for this meeting is Christian McBurney. He’ll be speaking about his 2020 book, George Washington’s Nemesis: The Outrageous Treason and Unfair Court-Martial of Major General Charles Lee during the Revolutionary War.

General Lee, second in command in the Continental Army led by George Washington, was captured by the British in December 1776. While a prisoner, he prepared and submitted to his captors a military plan on how to defeat Washington’s army as quickly as possible. This extraordinary act of treason, arguably on a par with Benedict Arnold’s heinous treachery, was not discovered during his lifetime. Many historians shrug off this ignoble act, but it should not be ignored. Less well known is that throughout his sixteen months of captivity and even after his release, Lee continued communicating with the enemy, offering to help negotiate an end to the rebellion.  Revolutionary War historians and biographers of Charles Lee have treated him as either an inveterate enemy of George Washington or a great defender of American liberty. Neither approach is accurate, in order to fully understand the war’s most complicated general, objectivity is required. In his new book, Christian McBurney relies on original documents (some newly discovered) to combine two dramatic stories involving the military law of treason and court-martials, creating a balanced view of the Revolution’s most fascinating personality.

After Lee rejoined the Continental Army, he was given command of many of its best troops with orders from Washington to attack the rear of British General Henry Clinton’s column near Monmouth, New Jersey. Lee intended to attack on June 28, 1778, but retreated in the face of Clinton’s bold move to reverse his march. Two of Lee’s subordinate generals—without orders and without informing Lee—moved more than half of his command off the field. Faced with the possible destruction of the balance, Lee ordered a general retreat while conducting a skillful delaying action.
Many historians have been quick to malign Lee’s performance at Monmouth, for which he was convicted by court-martial for not attacking and for retreating in the face of the enemy. This was a miscarriage of justice, stresses McBurney, for the evidence clearly shows that Lee was unfairly convicted and had, in fact, by retreating, performed an important service to the Patriot cause. The guilty verdict was more the result of Lee’s having insulted Washington, which made the matter a political contest between the army’s two top generals—only one of them could prevail.

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link:  https://www.amazon.com/George-Washingtons-Nemesis-Outrageous-Revolution/dp/1611214653

ABOUT CHRISTIAN MCBURNEY

Christian McBurney has written five books on the American Revolutionary War, including Kidnapping the Enemy: The Special Operations to Capture Generals Charles Lee & Richard Prescott. His published articles include one in MHQ: The Journal of Military History, on the British attempt to abduct George Washington, which was nominated by the U.S. Army Historical Foundation as best magazine article for 2017. He also publishes Rhode Island’s leading history blog. He is an attorney in Washington, D.C.

Oct 312021
 
On Line Meeting (7:00pm Zoom opens) (7:30pm Lecture begins)

The speaker for this meeting is Dr. Woody Holton. He’ll be speaking about his recently released book, Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution, A sweeping reassessment of the American Revolution, showing how the Founders were influenced by overlooked Americans—women, Native Americans, African Americans, and religious dissenters.

Using more than a thousand eyewitness accounts, Liberty Is Sweet explores countless connections between the Patriots of 1776 and other Americans whose passion for freedom often brought them into conflict with the Founding Fathers. “It is all one story,” prizewinning historian Woody Holton writes.

Holton describes the origins and crucial battles of the Revolution from Lexington and Concord to the British surrender at Yorktown, always focusing on marginalized Americans—enslaved Africans and African Americans, Native Americans, women, and dissenters—and on overlooked factors such as weather, North America’s unique geography, chance, misperception, attempts to manipulate public opinion, and (most of all) disease. Thousands of enslaved Americans exploited the chaos of war to obtain their own freedom, while others were given away as enlistment bounties to whites. Women provided material support for the troops, sewing clothes for soldiers and in some cases taking part in the fighting. Both sides courted native people and mimicked their tactics.

Liberty Is Sweet gives us our most complete account of the American Revolution, from its origins on the frontiers and in the Atlantic ports to the creation of the Constitution. Offering surprises at every turn—for example, Holton makes a convincing case that Britain never had a chance of winning the war—this majestic history revivifies a story we thought we already knew.

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link:  https://www.amazon.com/Liberty-Sweet-History-American-Revolution/dp/1476750378

 

About Dr. Woody Holton:  Professor Holton teaches graduate seminars on Colonial America and on the American Revolution at the University of South Carolina. At the undergraduate level, he teaches the first half of the U.S. history survey and upper-level classes on Early American Women, the American Revolution, and Early African Americans. In the near future he will teach seminars on slave rebellions and on the history of capitalism in North America.

Holton’s 2009 book, Abigail Adams, which he wrote on a Guggenheim fellowship, won the Bancroft Prize. Holton is the author of Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution (2007), a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize and the National Book Award. His first book, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia (1999), won the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti award

For the 2012-2013 academic year, I have a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to write a book called Liberty is Sweet: An Integrated History of the American Revolution. Its structure will be traditional, which is to say narrative, but its purpose is to introduce general readers to academic historians’ numerous recent discoveries about the founding of the nation. I am also finishing an article linking the adoption of the first married women’s property acts in the middle of the 19th century to the increased vulnerability of American debtors after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. In addition, I have just begun co-writing a comparative analysis of three centuries of Atlantic slave revolts.

Sep 282021
 

On Line Meeting (7:00pm Zoom opens) (7:30pm Lecture begins)

Revolutionary Surgeons offers an integrated picture of surgeons as political and military leaders of the American Revolution. Prominent surgeons participated in political activities that ultimately resulted in the breakaway of the colonies from Britain. Surgeons were members of the Sons of Liberty and other groups opposing Acts imposed on the colonies by Parliament.

Similar to other groups in society, surgeons were split in their view of the growing opposition against the English rule of the American colonies and the wish to create an independent nation. Even with different opinions of the revolution, Loyalists and Patriots were often able to get along and live peacefully in the same communities.

Surgery underwent dramatic developments during the 1700s. Although anesthesia was still a century in the future, surgeons performed extensive procedures, including laparotomies (opening of the abdomen) for tumors, mastectomies for cancerous growths, amputations of the leg above or below the knee, and cutting for the stone (removal of bladder stones). An increased understanding of human anatomy was one reason why surgeons kept moving the boundaries of what was considered possible. With no anesthesia, patients’ screams from pain and horror were unimaginable. Many patients died from shock on the operating table or from postoperative bleedings and infections.

 

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link:   https://www.amazon.com/Revolutionary-Surgeons-Patriots-Loyalists-Cutting/dp/1642938882

 

About Per-Olof Hasselgren: Dr. Hasselgren is a surgeon at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He is the Distinguished Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He has a longstanding interest in surgical and American history.

Sep 152021
 

On Line Meeting (7:o0pm)

George Washington claimed that anyone who attempted to provide an accurate account of the war for independence would be accused of writing fiction. At the time, no one called it the “American Revolution”: former colonists still regarded themselves as Virginians or Pennsylvanians, not Americans, while John Adams insisted that the British were the real revolutionaries, for attempting to impose radical change without their colonists’ consent.

With The Cause, Ellis takes a fresh look at the events between 1773 and 1783, recovering a war more brutal than any in American history save the Civil War and discovering a strange breed of “prudent” revolutionaries, whose prudence proved wise yet tragic when it came to slavery, the original sin that still haunts our land. Written with flair and drama, The Cause brings together a cast of familiar and forgotten characters who, taken together, challenge the story we have long told ourselves about our origins as a people and a nation.

 

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link  https://www.amazon.com/Cause-American-Revolution-Discontents-1773-1783/dp/1631498983

About Joseph J Ellis:

Joseph J. Ellis is one of the nation’s leading scholars of American history. The author of nine books, Ellis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation and won the National Book Award for American Sphinx, a biography of Thomas Jefferson. His in-depth chronicle of the life of our first President, His Excellency: George Washington, was a New York Times bestseller.

Ellis’ essays and book reviews appear regularly in national publications, such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. Ellis’s commentaries have been featured on CBS, CSPAN, CNN, and the PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and he has appeared in several PBS documentaries on early America, including “John and Abigail [Adams]” for PBS’s The American Experience and a History Channel documentary on George Washington.

Ellis has taught in the Leadership Studies program at Williams College, the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife Eillen Wilkins Ellis and two dogs.  He is the father of three sons.

Aug 132021
 

Online Meeting – 7:00pm

For most of the eighteenth century, British protestantism was driven neither by the primacy of denominations nor by fundamental discord between them. Instead, it thrived as part of a complex transatlantic system that bound religious institutions to imperial politics. British imperial protestantism proved remarkably effective in advancing both the interests of empire and the cause of religion until the war for American independence disrupted it. That Revolution forced a reassessment of the role of religion in public life on both sides of the Atlantic. Religious communities struggled to reorganize within and across new national borders. Religious leaders recalibrated their relationships to government. If these shifts were more pronounced in the United States than in Britain, the loss of a shared system nonetheless mattered to both nations.Sweeping and explicitly transatlantic, Religion and the American Revolution demonstrates that if religion helped set the terms through which Anglo-Americans encountered the imperial crisis and the violence of war, it likewise set the terms through which both nations could imagine the possibilities of a new world.

 

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link https://www.amazon.com/Religion-American-Revolution-Published-University/dp/1469662647

 

About Kate Carté

Kate Carté (PhD., University of Wisconsin) is an associate professor of history at Southern Methodist University.  She is the author of Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), and she has published articles in Church History, the William and Mary Quarterly, and Early American Studies, as well as a variety of edited collections. Her latest book is, Religion and the American Revolution: An Imperial History, chronicles how that conflict transformed Anglo-American religion between 1763 and 1792.

Jul 162021
 
Online Meeting – 7:00pm

It was 1778, and the recent American victory at Saratoga had netted the U.S a powerful ally in France. Many, including General George Washington, presumed France’s entrance into the war meant independence was just around the corner.

Meanwhile, having lost an entire army at Saratoga, Great Britain pivoted to a “southern strategy.” The army would henceforth seek to regain its southern colonies, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, a highly profitable segment of its pre-war American empire. Deep into 1780 Britain’s new approach seemed headed for success as the U.S. economy collapsed and morale on the home front waned. By early 1781, Washington, and others, feared that France would drop out of the war if the Allies failed to score a decisive victory that year. Sir Henry Clinton, commander of Britain’s army, thought “the rebellion is near its end.” Washington, who had been so optimistic in 1778, despaired: “I have almost ceased to hope.”

Winning Independence is the dramatic story of how and why Great Britain-so close to regaining several southern colonies and rendering the postwar United States a fatally weak nation ultimately failed to win the war. The book explores the choices and decisions made by Clinton and Washington, and others, that ultimately led the French and American allies to clinch the pivotal victory at Yorktown that at long last secured American independence.

 

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link https://www.amazon.com/Winning-Independence-Decisive-Revolutionary-1778-1781/dp/1635572762

 

About John Ferling

John Ferling is Professor Emeritus of History at the State University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he has appeared in many documentaries and has written numerous books, including Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War for Independence, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, and Jefferson in the American Revolution, and the award-winning A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic.

Jun 082021
 
Online Meeting – 7:00pm

The French were the archenemies of the British and her American colonies, particularly after the French and Indian War which was begun by George Washington. So, why did America look to the French as their principal ally in the American Revolution and why did General George Washington choose a Frenchman as his chief engineer? This biography of Louis Duportail, founder and first Commandant of the Army Corps of Engineers, begins by exploring those questions. It then explores the life of this man, who is virtually unknown in America and less known in his native France.

This is an unique biography about an overlooked, even obscure, French officer that was instrumental in the American cause for independence. As a complete biography, it covers his return to France and his service in the French army. Cementing his role in the seminal events of the era, readers will also learn of his problems under the Reign of Terror and his escape to the United States where he purchased a quiet farm near Valley Forge. It concludes with his unusual death at sea and the problems of settling his estate. Duportail died in the greatest anonymity, in the greatest indifference, without earthly burial, without military honors, a dedicated monument to his glory in service to France or the United States, and without intervention of his brothers in arms to honor and recall his memory.

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link https://www.amazon.com/Washingtons-Engineer-Louis-Duportail-Creation/dp/1633886565

 

About Norman Desmarais

Norman Desmarais is professor emeritus at Providence College and an active reenactor. He is a member of Le Régiment Bourbonnais, the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment and the Brigade of the American Revolution. He is the author of Guide to the American Revolutionary War series (six volumes about the war on land and seven volumes about the war at sea and overseas). He is also the editor-in-chief of The Brigade Dispatch, the journal the Brigade of the American Revolution and has translated the Gazette Françoise, the French newspaper published in Newport, RI by the French fleet that brought the Count de Rochambeau and 5800 troops to America in July 1780. It is the first known service newspaper published by an expeditionary force. He has also translated the journal of Louis François Bertrand Dupont d’Aubevoye de Lauberdière which was published on May 18, 2021. The Count de Lauberdière was General Rochambeau’s nephew and aide-de camp.

Apr 062021
 
Online Meeting – 7:00pm

A revelatory narrative of the 535 Pennsylvania and New Jersey privateers, privately owned ships of war some called pirates. Manned by nearly 18,000 men, these privateers influenced the fight for American independence. From the halls of Congress to the rough waterfronts of Delaware River and Bay to the remote privateering ports of the New Jersey coast and into the Atlantic, a stirring portrait emerges of seaborne raiders, battles, and derring-do, as well as incredible escapes from the great British prison ships “vulgarly called Hell,” where more than 11,000 men perished. A work 40 years in the making extracted from archives in both Europe and America, it is a tale unrivaled by any Hollywood fiction.

 

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link https://www.amazon.com/Privateers-Revolution-Jersey-Coast-1775-1783/dp/0764350331

 

About Donald Grady Shomette

A graduate of Pratt Institute, nationally known maritime historian Donald Grady Shomette served for over two decades as a staff member of the Library of Congress. As a cultural resources consultant and marine archaeologist, he has been engaged by myriad museums, universities, and governments. He has worked internationally under the sponsorships of the National Geographic Society, National Park Service, US Navy, and others. Author of numerous books, and contributor to many encyclopedias and anthologies of history and archaeology, his writings have also appeared in such publications as National Geographic, History and Technology, and Sea History. He is twice winner of the prestigious John Lyman Book Award for Best American Maritime History, a recipient of the Calvert Prize for historic preservation, and holds an honorary PhD from the University of Baltimore.

Jan 222021
 

Online Meeting – 7:00pm

The speaker for this meeting is author Dr. Holly A. Mayer and she will be talking about her book Congress’s Own: A Canadian Regiment, the Continental Army, and American Union

Colonel Moses Hazen’s 2nd Canadian Regiment was one of the first “national” regiments in the American army. Created by the Continental Congress, it drew members from Canada, eleven states, and foreign forces. “Congress’s Own” was among the most culturally, ethnically, and regionally diverse of the Continental Army’s regiments—a distinction that makes it an apt reflection of the union that was struggling to create a nation.

The 2nd Canadian, like the larger army, represented and pushed the transition from a colonial, continental alliance to a national association. The problems the regiment raised and encountered underscored the complications of managing a confederation of states and troops.

In this enterprising study of an intriguing and at times “infernal” regiment, Holly A. Mayer marshals personal and official accounts—from the letters and journals of Continentals and congressmen to the pension applications of veterans and their widows—to reveal what the personal passions, hardships, and accommodations of the 2nd Canadian can tell us about the greater military and civil dynamics of the American Revolution. Congress’s Own follows congressmen, commanders, and soldiers through the Revolutionary War as the regiment’s story shifts from tents and trenches to the halls of power and back.

Interweaving insights from borderlands and community studies with military history, Mayer tracks key battles and traces debates that raged within the Revolution’s military and political borderlands wherein subjects became rebels, soldiers, and citizens. Her book offers fresh, vivid accounts of the Revolution that disclose how “Congress’s Own” regiment embodied the dreams, diversity, and divisions within and between the Continental Army, Congress, and the emergent union of states during the War for American Independence.

 

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link https://www.amazon.com/Congresss-Own-Continental-Campaigns-Commanders/dp/080616851X

 

About Dr. Holly A. Mayer

Holly A. Mayer is Professor Emerita of History at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and the author of Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution. Holly A. Mayer is an historian of early America. She taught at Duquesne for decades enlightened by many super students and colleagues. Her positions included History Department chair between 2007 and 2013 and Interim Associate Provost for Academic Affairs from 2017 to 2019. Dr. Mayer was also the visiting Harold K. Johnson Chair of Military History at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, in 2016-2017.

She continues to be actively engaged with history as a researcher, editor, and author. Her primary interests include the social, cultural, and military histories of late eighteenth-century North America.

Jan 082021
 

OnLine Meeting – 7:00pm

The speaker for this meeting is author Donald F Johnson and he will be talking about his book Occupied America: British Military Rule and the Experience of the Revolution

In Occupied America: British Military Rule and the Experience of the Revolution, Donald F Johnson chronicles the everyday experience of ordinary people living under military occupation during the American Revolution. Focusing on day-to-day life in port cities held by the British Army, Johnson recounts how men and women from a variety of backgrounds navigated harsh conditions, mitigated threats to their families and livelihoods, took advantage of new opportunities, and balanced precariously between revolutionary and royal attempts to secure their allegiance.

Between 1775 and 1783, every large port city along the Eastern seaboard fell under British rule at one time or another. As centers of population and commerce, these cities—Boston, New York, Newport, Philadelphia, Savannah, Charleston—should have been bastions from which the empire could restore order and inspire loyalty. Military rule’s exceptional social atmosphere initially did provide opportunities for many people—especially women and the enslaved, but also free men both rich and poor—to reinvent their lives, and while these opportunities came with risks, the hope of social betterment inspired thousands to embrace military rule. Nevertheless, as Johnson demonstrates, occupation failed to bring about a restoration of imperial authority, as harsh material circumstances forced even the most loyal subjects to turn to illicit means to feed and shelter themselves, while many maintained ties to rebel camps for the same reasons. As occupations dragged on, most residents no longer viewed restored royal rule as a viable option.

As Johnson argues, the experiences of these citizens reveal that the process of political change during the Revolution occurred not in a single instant but gradually, over the course of years of hardship under military rule that forced Americans to grapple with their allegiance in intensely personal and highly contingent ways. Thus, according to Johnson, the quotidian experience of military occupation directly affected the outcome of the American Revolution.

 

BOOK PURCHASE: To purchase this book please click on this link. https://www.amazon.com/Occupied-America-Military-Experience-Revolution-ebook/dp/B088LS81DD

 

About Donald F. Johnson

Donald F. Johnson is a historian of popular politics in Revolutionary America. He resides with his wife Sara, four cats, and a St. Bernard in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he teaches early American and public history at North Dakota State University. Before coming to NDSU in 2015 he earned a PhD in American History at Northwestern University, an MA in American Material Culture from the University of Delaware, and a BA in History and Anthropology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland