Tag: American Revolution

At the Battle of Saratoga, the tide of the Revolutionary War turned in favor of unlikely victors: the American patriots.

What were the major strategy elements at play in the Saratoga Campaign, and why did it prove so crucial? Where did England misstep, and what did the Americans get right? To find out, we chat with Kevin Weddle *03, Professor of Military Theory and Strategy at the Army War College.

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I have commented on previous sections of this book, notably the immediately preceding section on the Renaissance popes that sparked an interest in the Italian Renaissance and motivated many posts. Here, Tuchman relates the follies of the British government that led to the loss of the American colonies. She hints at equally foolish behavior on […]

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Liege of the King, Son of the Revolutionary: The Marquis de La Fayette and Defining America


«La Fayette, nous voici!» – Charles E. Stanton, July 4th 1917 (Often mistakenly attributed to John J. Pershing)

Saturday was the 263rd birthday of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (excuse me while I take a breath). Often simply referred to as the Marquis de La Fayette, or Lafayette, the French nobleman who lived from 1757 to 1834 is a well-known and beloved figure in both France and the United States, which he fought to help establish. Most people know the story of the Marquis’ escape from France dressed as a woman to fight with George Washington’s army, his honorable service with and deep love for the General, and, on his return to Europe, his imprisonment and near escape from death during the French Revolution. All make for an interesting addition to the cast of characters of the American Revolution, especially when there were such colorful foreign actors as the Baron von Steuben.

3 Things to Read This Independence Day Weekend


Happy Independence Day. Or, from Britain’s perspective, Happy Treason Day, you ungrateful colonials.

One good habit on this anniversary of our Independence is to read the actual Declaration by the Second Continental Congress, agreed to on July 2nd but announced a couple of days later. It’s not a lengthy document but is the “why” behind the “how” of the Constitution, ratified some 13 years later after our war for Independence, which I’m reminded of every time I pass by the Brandywine River a few miles west of our home.

But I suggest reading two more documents by the American patriot, Thomas Paine, who is perhaps the most interesting of our nation’s founders. British born, he came to America in 1774, and a year later, wrote the document — a pamphlet — “Common Sense” that makes the case for American independence. It’s a bit longer than the Constitution, but worth your time.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Gordon Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Radicalism of the American Revolution. Professor Wood shares his wisdom about the many ways in which the Revolution marked a new beginning for humanity, reversing the centuries-old, top-down understanding of government and society. They begin with the efforts of Founders such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush to institute universal public education to nurture the well-educated and enlightened citizenry that they viewed as the backbone of the Republic. They discuss why George Washington’s “disinterest” in political rewards for military victory was so unique and extraordinary among his international contemporaries. Professor Wood also explains how the American Revolution gave rise to the first anti-slave movements in world history, and how actions taken to abolish slavery led to its eventual demise as a result of the Civil War. They also delve into the lives of the Revolutionary era’s often less well-known female figures, including Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Judith Sargent Murray, and the inspirational freed slave poet, Phillis Wheatley. Professor Wood concludes with observations on Aaron Burr, popularized through “Hamilton,” the phenomenally successful musical, and the character traits and actions that have cast Burr as one of American history’s most notorious Founding era figures. The Learning Curve team would like to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July!

Stories of the Week: A Good Morning America feature story highlights how African-American history will likely see greater traction across the nation’s classrooms, thanks to teachers’ efforts to move beyond outdated textbooks and create their own culturally-sensitive learning materials. The supervisory group for the Nation’s Report Card announced this week that it is cancelling national assessments of U.S. history or civics in 2021 for eighth graders. Is this decision reflective of a legitimate concern about spreading COVID, or merely a concession to the country’s growing anti-testing movement?

Podcast: Colored Patriots of the American Revolution


I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a podcast for some time now and I’ve finally got around to doing it. Apropos of Black History Month, I’m going back through a book I read years ago by William C. Nell called Colored Patriots of the American Revolution.

Nell is basically the reason we’re familiar with Crispus Attucks. He and several others asked the Massachusetts legislature to erect a monument to Attucks as an honor to the first martyr of the Revolution. The committee handling the petition said someone else, a boy, had died earlier so their claim wasn’t valid.

At this point, the mid-18th century, the story about Attucks had been nearly forgotten. Nell began an intensive research effort to interview survivors and relatives to compile a record of these black patriots for posterity. His book is the product of that research.

Morgan’s Masterpiece


I don’t often read fiction anymore and hardly ever unless it has a historical context. Recently, I was convinced to order a copy of Oliver North’s book. It is a prequel to some other novels he has written and is titled The Rifleman (no, it has nothing to do Chuck Conners – might have dated myself on that one). I have only begun reading the book, but I am looking forward to it capturing (I hope) the flavor of one of my very favorite Revolutionary heroes, Daniel Morgan.

But the novel has caused me to dig up something that I wrote in another place and time with Morgan more or less at the center. I might have retouched it slightly since it was written in a darker time during the first term of Fearless Leader Obama and it is hardly intended to be a definitive piece.

But in a time when some among us seem to prefer that those who defend or advance our freedoms and ideals be more proper and civil, it reminds us that all heroes are flawed but does not diminish their worth or purpose. It also brings some reflection that perhaps in another time Daniel Morgan could well have been a reasonable choice for Secretary of Defense in a Trump administration – or even FBI Director, we could only hope!

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Today marks the 246th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party when American patriots, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor in protest. You’re probably somewhat familiar with this seminal event but you may not be with the story of those behind it. The “Sons Of Liberty” […]

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There are moments in life that alter history, some of them present themselves as flashy and incontrovertible, while others are shattering and beyond comprehension. The historian’s job is to catalog these moments for the benefit of society. Some historians find the task set before them to be a license to skew the analysis to fit […]

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The American Revolution was not just about battles, international politics, and the men who willed the nation into being. It was also about the changes occurring in society that took men and women from observers in the political system to active participants. This was a period of intense strife among the civilian population. Those who […]

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At the height of the American Revolution, a violent upsurge of populism set Pennsylvanians against each other. On October 4th, 1779, militia and agitators paraded down the streets of Philadelphia with four prominent conservatives in their custody. Their intent was force the men onto a ship bound for the British stronghold of New York – […]

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Bernie Sanders Is Not Running for President of the United States . . .


. . . He is campaigning to overthrow the existing U.S. Constitutional government and replace it with a new government. That new government will be based on principles completely different from the principles of the existing US government.

I happened to hear a portion of Mr. Sanders’ announcement video and was horrified by the level of revolution I heard in the short clip. I looked further to be sure the segment hadn’t been taken out of context. I don’t think it was. I hesitated to post this (I’m really not a crazy conspiracy theorist), but so many ideas that are antithetical to the founding principles of the United States republic are now considered acceptable or even desirable that I thought Bernie Sanders’ announcement was a place to plant a stake.

Progress, Immigration, and the Question of Rule


One of the complaints in the Declaration of Independence addresses the king’s position on immigration. Let’s have a look, shall we?

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States, for that reason obstruction the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

ACF Founders Series #3: John Marshall


Historian Richard Brookhiser returns to the podcast for our third conversation on a Founder–in this case, the man most responsible for the Supreme Court–John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice, a log cabin Federalist, a patriotic soldier in the Revolution and a very successful lawyer, who then served in all three branches of government. (You read that right: The first three CJs thought the job wasn’t worth it…) Mr. Brookhiser is just publishing his biography of Marshall, the last of the great Federalists, out the week after the election, so go order it, buy it, read it, and let everyone know! We’ve already covered two great Federalists — Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris — so by now we can show fairly well what it was like to be the first party in government in American history.

‘Turncoat’ Offers a Fresh Look at Benedict Arnold


Benedict Arnold has become synonymous with treason. Yet few today know his story. Turncoat: Benedict Arnold and the Crisis of American Liberty, by Stephen Brumwell is a fresh look at the man and his times.

Arnold was a brilliant general, probably only second to George Washington in talent. Next to Washington, he may be most responsible for the survival of the patriot cause. His dogged defense on Lake Champlain in 1776, and his spirited attacks in the Saratoga campaign in 1777, defeated Britain’s northern offensive and led France to enter the revolution on the American side. Absent Arnold, Britain would likely have won by 1778. Three years later, he tried to give Britain the war by betraying West Point to them.

Brumwell traces what led Arnold to switch sides. It was more complicated than many believe.

Quote of the Day: On George III, Spectacles, and a Name Writ Large


On August 2, 1776, 242 years ago today, the parchment manuscript generally thought of as the original “Declaration of Independence” was signed by most of its 56 final signatories. First in line was the President of the Second Continental Congress, one John Hancock, who signed his name larger than anyone else, and, after doing so, is reputed to have proclaimed our quote of the day, something very similar to: “There! King George and his ministry can read that without spectacles! They can double the price on my head now.”

In fact, these men were not signing the original Declaration of Independence. That one, known as the “fair copy,” was assembled by Thomas Jefferson from earlier drafts, and it was signed by John Hancock alone, on July 4, 1776. It was sent off so copies could be printed, and then lost, perhaps in the printing process itself. Subsequently, approximately 200 broadside copies of the Declaration were printed, with Hancock’s name included in printed form only.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are more than happy to run against a Democratic Party that is now embracing socialism, and they worry that young people don’t understand socialism or its history.  They shake their heads at “conservative” Max Boot, who wrote for the Washington Post that he wants Democrats to win control of Congress in the midterm elections.  And they take aim at Vox for it’s absurd column suggesting the American Revolution was a “monumental mistake.”