Contributor Close-up: George Kotlik


June 22, 2020
by Editors Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

What inspired you to start researching and writing about the American Revolution?

The North American War of Independence has been a passion of mine for a long time. I enjoy learning about lesser-known Revolutionary-era topics. Sharing the information I discover with the broader public informs people of forgotten, and often significant, events from history which contributes (in however small a way) to a memorialization of the American Revolution—the greatest story ever told.

What historians or books have most influenced your work? Why?

Ray Raphael’s A People’s History of the American Revolution really provided the groundwork for my study on the loyalists. His book offers an excellent organized outline of the various groups of people affected by the American Revolution, especially minority groups. Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy’s The Men Who Lost America began my interest in the British military perspective of the American Revolution. His book took me away from narratives that favored the American perspective of the war effort. Shelia L. Skemp’s The Making of a Patriot: Benjamin Franklin at the Cockpit reminds me that at one point most Founding Fathers were ardent Crown supporters. It also reminds me how Britain, for the most part, provided the means for undoing the relationship between the Empire and her North American colonies.

What are your go-to research resources?

Whenever I start researching a topic on the American Revolution I begin with A Companion to the American Revolution, edited by Jack P. Greene and J. R. Pole. For context I use Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies, edited by Jacob Ernest Cooke.

Which of your own JAR articles is your favorite or most rewarding? Why?

My favorite article has been The British Invasion of the Bahamas, 1783. Apart from covering loyalists, a subject I find fascinating, the article reveals a story that is profoundly interesting. The fact that it is rarely mentioned makes it even more valuable. I love the lost, the forgotten, and the underappreciated.

Other than your own contributions, what are some of your favorite JAR articles?

I have especially enjoyed Jason Yonce’s How Magna Carta Influenced the American Revolution, Jim Piecuch’s Patrick Tonyn: Britain’s Most Effective Revolutionary-Era Royal Governor, and John L. Smith Jr.’s India: The Last Battle of the American Revolutionary War.

What books about the American Revolution do you most often recommend?

Books that I recommend cover topics that are often overlooked. I usually recommend Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy’s An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean, Claudio Saunt’s West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, Larry L. Meyer’s Shadow of a Continent: The Prize That Lay to the West–1776. I always try and remind people that the history of the American Revolution goes beyond the thirteen original colonies. There existed many theatres of the war in Canada, the Caribbean, and in the West that are separate from but related to the happenings within the thirteen rebelling colonies.

What new research/writing projects are you currently working on?

Right now I am revising an essay on the Imperial Crisis. While talking about the anti-British movement before 1775, I have been drawn to radical interpretations of that period that emphasize the insurgent nature of the movement. I am similarly drawing connections between the anti-British movement of the Imperial Crisis and definitions of terrorism (the history of terrorism can be traced far back into history—much farther back than eighteenth century North America) to argue that the anti-British movement during the Imperial Crisis was of a terrorist nature. I do not personally believe this argument, but I feel it is my duty to explore this topic that has, so far, received no attention in scholarship.

Apart from radical interpretations of the American Revolution, I am also working on projects surrounding Florida and the American Revolution. One article I am working on covers the loyalist evacuation of Amelia Island, Florida. Amelia Island was a loyalist safe haven throughout the war. The island boasted a town which was evacuated in the early 1780s. I am also in the early planning stages of a book on Florida and the American Revolution.

Additionally, and in collaboration with The Hessians: The Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, I am also working on uncovering what happened to the Hessian prisoners of war after the Battle of Trenton. Little is known of what happened to the Hessian POWs after Trenton and my work with the Hessian Troops in America database (HETRINA) is shedding light on that void of knowledge.

What other hobbies/interests do you enjoy?

I like to read biographies of people I find interesting. People such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Gertrude Bell, Thomas Lawrence, Roy Chapman Andrews, Hiram Bingham, and Theodore Roosevelt have sated my reading interests.

Why is Journal of the American Revolution important to you?

The Journal of the American Revolution is a platform that puts my work in front of a big audience. The Journal also teaches me a lot about Revolutionary-era topics that I would otherwise not know about.

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