After the Tea Party, Parliament not only shut down a port but also revoked the sacred Massachusetts charter. Completely disenfranchised, citizens rose up as a body and cast off British rule everywhere except in Boston, where British forces were stationed. A Spirit of 74 initiated the American Revolution, much as the better-known Spirit of 76 sparked independence. Redcoats marched on Lexington and Concord to take back a lost province, but they encountered Massachusetts militiamen who had trained for months to protect the revolution they had already made.
The Spirit of 74 places our founding moment in a rich and new historical context, both changing and deepening its meaning for all Americans.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-22
- Reviewer: Staff
In this concise, lively narrative, spouses Ray (Constitutional Myths) and Marie Raphael (A Boy from Ireland) identify Massachusetts as the cradle of the colonial rebellion against England. The authors persuasively argue that between December 1773 and April 1775, the organized resistance to British authority that developed throughout the former Puritan stronghold amounted to revolution. They open with a smart retelling of the dumping of East India Company tea into Boston Harbor, an action carefully planned by city inhabitants fed up with British taxation policies and their political implications. The authors expertly build tension by layering colonial action and British reaction over subsequent events in Massachusetts, weaving in well-chosen anecdotes to illustrate their points. Both well- and lesser-known colonials appear, including John and Abigail Adams, workingman George Robert Twelves Hewes, and councilman Joshua Loring. The touchstone character, however, is not one of the Founding Fathers, but “Captain General and Governor-in-Chief” Thomas Gage, the Englishman tasked with subduing Massachusetts. Neither a buffoon nor a devil, he was ultimately outmaneuvered by colonists devoted to revolution. The Raphaels expertly contextualize how the outbreak of a shooting war at Lexington and Concord marked a crucial “turning point” in, rather than the beginning of, the American Revolution. (Sept.)