The Commoners Revolution:
The American Revolution
The American Revolution was fought between 1765 and 1783 in the English colonies located on the Eastern coast of North America. These 13 colonies had long struggled with Britain as their mother country and now sought to become independent from her. At the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763, Great Britain was in severe debt and looked to the colonies to replenish her treasury. Soon thereafter, the colonies felt oppressed by all the taxes being placed upon them and began to rebel against the crown’s actions. Key leaders emerged like Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine that helped push the colonists to either declare themselves Patriots, seeking a separation from Britain, or Loyalists, seeking to remain loyal to Britain.
The traditional narrative of the Revolutionary War comes from the generals of the war or the main political figures from that time period, such as, the big seven Founding Fathers, but never from the people who were actually fighting the war or the civilians. Revolutions, like the government power, come from the people; therefore, we seek to bring light to the experiences of commoners during the American Revolution. Throughout this website, you will read primary sources from the viewpoints of priests, farmers, laborers, women, Native Americans, and African Americans. These sources come from journals, diaries, letters, and memoirs. These are men and women, of all different races, living the day to day during the American Revolution. Some are out on the battlefield fighting next to the men whose names are always mentioned in the textbook but no student will ever know their names. Other people are in the towns and supporting the war effort in a different way—by performing jobs on the home front that allow for the soldiers on the front lines to have supplies and clothing.
The reason we feel this topic is a necessary and proper one to highlight is because of two reasons. First, there is a controversy surrounding the American Revolution. Growing up, we are not taught that the Patriots were traitors, but in some senses, they were! The traditional narrative frowns upon those who chose to remain loyal to the British crown because they didn’t support the fight for freedom. However, shouldn’t they be honored for their fight against tyranny, as well? Second, as was stated earlier, the Revolutionary narrative is usually told from the perspective of the powerful political or military men of the time. Names like James Armistead, Haym Soloman, Bernardo de Galvez, Mercy Otis Warren, Wentworth Cheswell, Josiah Quincy, Robert Newman, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott will hardly be mentioned in history classrooms, although the aids of these men were positive. These men all contributed to the war in vital ways but most people aren’t able to associate their name with a particularly famous event or task they performed in history. We want to shed light on the accomplishments, big or small, made by common men and women fighting for individual and personal reasons that were dear to their heart but contradicting to history.
Questions to ponder while exploring this website:
- Why is it that history remembers the tales told by powerful, rich, white men but not the tales of lesser men, of women, and of minorities?
- In what ways are the war contributions of commoners and minorities overlooked in the tale of the American Revolution?
Be sure to jot down your thoughts for these questions as you look through the website. At the conclusion of this site, you will be asked to do a performance task to demonstrate your understanding of the content presented to you here.
Check out our resource page that contains books and websites you can check out to learn more information about the American Revolution!
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