The untold story of the “Black Boys,” a rebellion on the American frontier in 1765 that sparked the American Revolution. A little-known rebellion that erupted in western Pennsylvania a decade before Lexington and Concord to expose pre-revolutionary America in all its ambiguity. This lecture broadens the horizons on the meaning of American independence, expanding the map from the Sons of Liberty in Boston to the Black Boys on the western frontier. Both groups chose to defy British authority for Jeffersonian reasons, but harbored quite different definitions of ‘pursuit of happiness’.
Join us on Monday, February 24, 2020 as we welcome back Patrick Spero who will be talking about his book on Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West 1765-1776. Our meeting place is at Scoogi’s Italian Restaurant 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 7:15 pm. The presentation will start at 7:30 pm. We encourage you to join our membership for the very small and reasonable tax deductible amount of $30. Don’t forget 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. The money raised goes to pay the room fee and speaker expenses.
Shifting the vision away from eastern ports like Boston and Philadelphia to the ‘dark and bloody ground’ of the Pennsylvania frontier, offers a compelling and important new interpretation of the roots of the American Revolution, one that reveals that the independence of the new United States would come at a terrible cost to North America’s Indian peoples. When British general Thomas Gage received news of the Black Boys incident in 1765, he instantly smelled a larger rebellion brewing against British rule. We, too, should pay attention. In this dramatic story, we recapture the significance and gravity of this struggle for independence on the early American frontier.
Frontier Rebels, tells the story of the Black Boys, a band of rebels whose protests ignited the American Revolution. In 1765, as the Stamp Act riled eastern seaports, frontiersmen clashed with the British Empire over another issue: Indian relations. When British officials launched a risky diplomatic expedition into the American interior to open trade with the Indian warrior Pontiac, the Black Boys formed to stop it. Distrustful of Native neighbors and suspicious of imperial aims, the Black Boys led an uprising that threatened the future of Britain’s empire. Clashing with unscrupulous traders, daring diplomats, Native warriors, and imperious British officials, the Black Boys evolved into an organized political movement that resisted the Crown years before the Declaration of Independence. A fast-paced read examining an overlooked conflict, Frontier Rebels brings to life a forgotten cast of characters and sheds new light on the origins of American Independence.
Patrick Spero is the Librarian and Director of the American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia. As a scholar of early American history, Dr. Spero specializes in the era of the American Revolution. He has published over a dozen essays and reviews on the topic. His is the author of Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West, 1765-1776 (Norton, 2018), of Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania and The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century, an edited anthology also from Penn Press.
Prior to his appointment at the American Philosophical Society, Dr. Spero taught at Williams College where he served on the faculty of the History and Leadership Studies Department and received recognition for his integration of new technology in the classroom. Dr. Spero has also held the position of Historian at the David Library of the Revolution and served on their Board of Trustees. He currently serves on the board of the Abraham Lincoln Foundation and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, the Council of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the Cabinet of George Washington’s Presidential Library at Mount Vernon, and on the Academic Advisory Board of Benjamin Franklin’s House in London.
He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 and has held long-term fellowships from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Society of the Cincinnati, the Doris Quinn Foundation, the David Library of the American Revolution, and the American Philosophical Society.