The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord
by Ray Raphael
AVAILABILITY: Active Record (Available for Order)
Publication Date: April 2002
Publisher: New Press
Binding: Trade Cloth
Topics: GOVERNMENT, RESISTANCE TO; MASSACHUSETTS - HISTORY - REVOLUTION, 1775-1783; MASSACHUSETTS - POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT - TO 1775; REVOLUTIONARIES - UNITED STATES; SEDITION; UNITED STATES - HISTORY - REVOLUTION, 1775-1783 - CAUSES
Condition: Special Sale
Description: Using the wide-angle lens of a people's historian, Ray Raphael's 'The First American Revolution' tells a surprising new story of America's revolutionary struggle.
In the years before the Battle of Lexington and Concord, local people took control over their own destinies, overturning British authority and declaring themselves free from colonial oppression, with acts of rebellion that long predated the Boston Tea Party. In rural towns such as Worcester, Massachusetts, local democracy set down roots well before the Boston patriots made their moves in the fight for independence. Until now, few of these true founding fathers have made it into the historical record.
Much more than a simple debunking of national myths, 'The First American Revolution' takes a major new look at the history of revolutionary ferment in the eighteenth-century American colonies. Richly documented, 'The First American Revolution' recaptures in vivid detail the grass-roots activism that propelled the colonies toward a break with Britain.
Ray Raphael is the author of numerous books, including 'A People's History of the American Revolution', 'An Everyday History of Somewhere', 'Men from the Boys', and 'Tree Talk'. He lives in northern California.
Review(s): "The best single-volume history of the Revolution I have read." - Howard Zinn, author of 'A People's History of the United States'
An exciting distillation of the discoveries of a generation of scholars about ordinary people in the American Revolution. A very readable, thought-provoking book." - Alfred Young, author of 'The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution'
A cracking good read. ...Ray Raphael writes about the American Revolution as if he had been in the thick of it." - Roy Porter, author of 'Enlightenment: Britain and the Making of the Modern World' and 'London: A Social History'
Historian Raphael contends that the United States' war for independence did not begin in April 1775 with the "shot heard round the world." Rather it began the previous summer in rural towns like Worcester as patriots forced royal appointees to publicly resign their offices. These actions brought to a standstill the courts and public bodies established under the Massachusetts Government Act. The thousands of farmers and artisans then reclaimed the Charter of 1691 to democratically reopen the courts, establish new governmental bodies and organize a network of militias. Raphael thus brings into clear focus events and identities of ordinary people who should share the historic limelight with the Founding Fathers. This successful rebellion has until now remained obscure, the author says, because "[t]he telling of history cries out for individual protagonists" while this revolution was decentralized and nonhierarchical, creating not leaders but a participatory democracy that, in Raphael's view, "far outreached the intentions of the so-called `Founding Fathers.'" Moreover, unlike Lexington and Concord, this revolution involved no dramatic shedding of blood. Whether or not "the transfer of political authority to the American patriots" in 1774 was the "real revolution" making the clash in April 1775 a British counter-revolution to regain lost territory, Raphael ('A People's History of the American Revolution') makes a compelling case that these early events were critical to the success of the war that followed and should no longer escape our notice. His liberal use of primary sources (excerpts from town records, newspapers, letters, etc.), authoritative secondary sources and his meticulous care in footnoting will prove extremely useful for further study." - Publishers Weekly