Category: American Revolution

Can anybody help me on this? American economic warfare during the Revolution

We know that the British forged paper Continental Currency to undermine the 13 colonies/states in the 1770s, and we also know that the Americans faced limitations in the support they were getting from many Canadians, in part because the Patriots could not afford to pay in silver and gold. We also know that individual American engravers and metalsmiths made forgeries...

British cartoons during the American Revolution

This fine electronic collection of historical British political cartoons has just come to my attention. The cartoons and sketches parody and otherwise skewer the American Revolution and its allies. This file contains more than 150 British political cartoons concerning the American Revolution. Each is accompanied by an archivist’s description. The two sample cartoons are representative: One shows American savages hanging...

A re-enactment of Boston mob action against the crown

Pay close attention to this dramatization of the tarring and feathering of a tax official on the Boston waterfront in the early days of revolutionary ferment, in December 1773. The 3 1/2-minute scene is from Episode 1 of the excellent HBO series, John Adams. In this scene, Samuel Adams (the tall one at left, played by Danny Huston) is taking...

First ‘official’ report of the Boston Massacre

Domination of the narrative requires being the first to distribute a credible report. (Note that “credible” means “believable,” not “accurate” or “true.”) Reports are generally more credible if issued in the name of an organization or autoritative committee. Samuel Adams knew the propaganda value of committees, especially ones made up of elected officials, because they purported to represent the views of...

‘An ounce of prevention’ – Benjamin Franklin and private fire companies

by J Michael Waller, Serviam Out-of-control wildfires out West show the severe limits on government’s ability to protect society from one of nature’s weapons of mass destruction. Federal and state officials waited for more than a half-million acres to burn last June and July before calling the National Guard for help. With hundreds of homes destroyed among the billions of...

Private ships of war

by J Michael Waller, Serviam Privately owned warships are so deeply at the heart of American maritime tradition that a reference to them is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. With their own contract crews who rushed to the fight for independence during the American Revolution and in defense of the nation during the War of 1812, the private warships successfully...