Author: Timothy Symington

Timothy Symington has been contributing to the Journal of the American Revolution since 2019. He has written book reviews for other publications as well. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Master of Arts degree in American history.

Politics During the War (1775-1783) Posted on

The Times That Try Men’s Souls: The Adams, the Quincy’s, and the Battle for Loyalty in the American Revolution

BOOK REVIEW: The Times That Try Men’s Souls: The Adams, the Quincys, and the Battle for Loyalty in the American Revolution by Joyce Lee Malcolm. (New York, NY: Pegasus Books, 2023) “All wars are dangerous and painful . . . But the very worst war, that can sever family relationships and bonds of friendship, that touches even those […]

by Timothy Symington
Autobiography and Biography Posted on

The Lionkeeper of Algiers: How an American Captive Rose to Power in Barbary and Saved His Homeland from War

BOOK REVIEW: The Lionkeeper of Algiers: How an American Captive Rose to Power in Barbary and Saved His Homeland from War by Des Ekin (Essex, CT: Prometheus Books, 2023) The war with the Barbary States is often referred to as the first war of the new United States, post-Revolution. President Thomas Jefferson has been given credit […]

by Timothy Symington
Politics During the War (1775-1783) Posted on

East Florida in the Revolutionary Era 1763–1785

BOOK REVIEW: East Florida in the Revolutionary Era 1763-1785 by George Kotlik (Athens, GA: NewSouth Books, University of Georgia Press, 2023) Historian and JAR contributor George Kotlik’s new book, East Florida in the Revolutionary Era 1765-1785, explores a topic that he considers to be on the fringe of Revolutionary War scholarship: East Florida. There is a […]

by Timothy Symington
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Autobiography and Biography Posted on

Remembering John Adams

BOOK REVIEW: Remembering John Adams: The Second President in History, Memory and Popular Culture by Marianne Holdzkom (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2023) Marianne Holdzkom does not hide her fascination with John Adams anywhere in her book, Remembering John Adams: The Second President in History, Memory and Popular Culture. She starts off in the Preface explaining […]

by Timothy Symington
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Constitutional Debate Posted on

American Inheritance: Liberty and Slavery in the Birth of a Nation, 1765–1795

BOOK REVIEW: American Inheritance: Liberty and Slavery in the Birth of a Nation 1765-1795 by Edward J. Larson (New York, NY: WW Norton & Company, Inc., 2023) The 1619 Projectundeniably makes the case that American history can only be properly understood if slavery is a central pillar (perhaps THE central pillar). The peculiar institution was always […]

by Timothy Symington
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Autobiography and Biography Posted on

Samuel Elbert and the Age of Revolution in Georgia, 1740-1788

BOOK REVIEW: Samuel Elbert and the Age of Revolution in Georgia: 1740-1788 by Clay Outzts (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2022) Professor Clay Ouzts has given Revolutionary War scholars a lengthy but valuable chronicle of the war in the southern department in his book Samuel Elbert and the Age of Revolution in Georgia: 1740-1788. A figure […]

by Timothy Symington
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Autobiography and Biography Posted on

Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh

BOOK REVIEW: Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh by Thomas S. Kidd (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2022) There seems to be a reliable annual tradition of biographies about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson being published. What else can we learn about these American icons? Baylor University professor Thomas S. Kidd is […]

by Timothy Symington
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Autobiography and Biography Posted on

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams

BOOK REVIEW: The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown and Company, 2022) Stacy Schiff, who previously authored an acclaimed book on the Salem witch trials, The Witches: Salem, 1692 (2015), has written an excellent biography of who Thomas Jefferson referred to as the “man of the Revolution,” Samuel Adams. The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams focuses on the activities […]

by Timothy Symington
Autobiography and Biography Posted on

“No Man Knows the Country Better”: The Frontier Life of John Gibson

BOOK REVIEW: No Man Knows This Country Better”: The Frontier Life of John Gibson by Gary S. Williams (University of Akron Press, 2022) The Founders with whom most Americans are familiar were all on the eastern seaboard: Washington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and Hamilton. Librarian Gary S. Williams has delivered a thorough and extensive biography […]

by Timothy Symington
Books and Publications Posted on

These Distinguished Corps: British Grenadier and Light Infantry Battalions in the American Revolution

BOOK REVIEW: These Distinguished Corps: British Grenadier and Light Infantry Battalions in the American Revolution by Don N. Hagist. (Warwick, England: Helion & Company, Limited, 2021) Don N. Hagist, author of British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution (2012) and Noble Volunteers: The British Soldiers Who Fought the American Revolution (2020), has given Revolutionary War […]

by Timothy Symington
Newspapers Posted on

William Hunter: Finding Free Speech—A British Soldier’s Son Who Became an Early American

BOOK REVIEW: William Hunter: Finding Free Speech—A British Soldier’s Son Who Became an Early American by Eugene A. Procknow (Mechanicsburg, PA: Sunbury Press, Inc., 2022) An unknown, virtually invisible figure finds his historical reputation established in William Hunter: Finding Free Speech—A British Soldier’s Son Who Became an Early American. Eugene A. Procknow, frequent contributor to the Journal […]

by Timothy Symington
Constitutional Debate Posted on

Power and Liberty: Constitutionalism in the American Revolution

BOOK REVIEW: Power and Liberty: Constitutionalism in the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2021) The eminent historian and author Gordon S. Wood has turned a series of recent lectures into his latest work, Power and Liberty: Constitutionalism in the American Revolution. The focus of the book is what Wood considers […]

by Timothy Symington
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Constitutional Debate Posted on

Daniel Shays’s Honorable Rebellion

BOOK REVIEW: Daniel Shays’s Honorable Rebellion: An American Story by Daniel Bullen (Yardley, PA: Westholme, 2021) There is truth to the adage that history is told by the victors. It is no coincidence that we are taught that the rebellion named after Pelham, Massachusetts, farmer Daniel Shays was the event that led to the Constitutional Convention. Massachusetts […]

by Timothy Symington
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Documents Posted on

Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence

BOOK REVIEW: Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence by Robert G. Parkinson (Williamsburg, VA: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture; Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2021) The final grievance that Thomas Jefferson included in the Declaration of Independence used blatantly racist language, making it […]

by Timothy Symington
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Battles Posted on

Review: Decision at Brandywine: The Battle on Birmingham Hill

BOOK REVIEW: Decision At Brandywine: The Battle on Birmingham Hill by Robert M. Dunkerly (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2021) Historian and National Park Ranger Robert M. Dunkerly begins his book with an admission that the Battle of Brandywine is his passion: “Brandywine has fascinated me since I was young” (page ix). What follows is an unusual […]

by Timothy Symington
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Engineering and Technology Posted on

Review: Surveying in Early America

BOOK REVIEW: Surveying in Early America: The Point of Beginning, An Illustrated History by Dan Patterson and Clinton Terry (Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati Press, 2021) One of the first things that people may learn about George Washington is that his earliest professional experience was in the field of surveying. He did this briefly, until his half-brother […]

by Timothy Symington
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Politics During the War (1775-1783) Posted on

Review: The Cause: The American Revolution and Its Discontents, 1773–1783

BOOK REVIEW: The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents, 1773-1783 by Joseph J. Ellis (New York, NY: Liveright Publishing, 2021) Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis’s examines the evolving meaning of the American Revolution in his newest work, The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents. The events that history refers to as the Revolution […]

by Timothy Symington
Autobiography and Biography Posted on

Review: George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father

BOOK REVIEW: George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father by David O. Stewart (New York, NY: Dutton, Penguin Random House, 2021) One of the most recent biographies of the first president got this reviewer comparing the majestic and physically intimidating George Washington with the short but brilliant fictional character Tyrion Lannister from the series […]

by Timothy Symington
Frontier Posted on

Ill-Fated Frontier

BOOK REVIEW: Ill-Fated Frontier: Peril and Possibilities in the Early American West by Samuel A. Forman (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2021) Samuel A. Forman, author of Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty, was asked if he was related to Samuel S. Forman, who chronicled a trek to the western […]

by Timothy Symington
Constitutional Debate Posted on

Stranger Citizens: Migrant Influence and National Power in the Early American Republic

BOOK REVIEW: Stranger Citizens: Migrant Influence and National Power in the Early American Republic by John McNelis O’Keefe (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2021) The infamous decision that Chief Justice Roger B. Taney authored in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) is widely considered to be one of the most notorious to have been issued from the United States’ Supreme […]

by Timothy Symington
Patriots Posted on

Review: Vermont’s Ebenezer Allen

Vermont’s Ebenezer Allen: Patriot, Commando and Emancipator by Glenn Fay Jr. (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2021) Ethan Allen, the militia leader who shares credit for taking Fort Ticonderoga early in the Revolution, is the most recognizable historical figure from early Vermont history. His brother Ira is also famous for his association with the Green Mountain […]

by Timothy Symington
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Features Posted on

Review: Winning Independence

Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781 by John Ferling. (New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021) The latest work by Professor John Ferling (author of The Ascent of George Washington, A Leap In the Dark, and Whirlwind) is a scholarly explanation as to why the United States ended up winning the American Revolution, […]

by Timothy Symington
Features Posted on

Book Review: Running from Bondage: Enslaved Women and Their Remarkable Fight for Freedom in Revolutionary America

Running From Bondage: Enslaved Women and Their Remarkable Fight For Freedom In Revolutionary America by Karen Cook Bell (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021) A “wench” name Lucia. A mulatto woman named Margaret. A well-dressed woman named Jenny. A woman called Bett. These individuals are the subjects of the first four chapters of Karen Cook Bell’s […]

by Timothy Symington
Features Posted on

Review: All at Sea: Naval Support for the British Army During the American Revolution

All At Sea: Naval Support for the British Army During the American Revolutionary War by John Dillon. (Warwick, England: Helion & Company Limited, 2019) The rebels in the American colonies were nervous about facing the might of the British Empire when the war began in 1775. The British army was disciplined and well-supplied with war materiel. […]

by Timothy Symington
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Features Posted on

John Haslet’s World: An Ardent Patriot, the Delaware Blues, and the Spirit of 1776

John Haslet’s World: An Ardent Patriot, the Delaware Blues, and the Spirit of 1776 by David Price. (Nashville, TN: Knox Press, 2020) “‘Noted for his bravery and devotion to the cause of Liberty, Colonel John Haslet died a hero to his state and nation.’” (p. 221) The above statement is the final sentence of text inscribed […]

by Timothy Symington
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Features Posted on

The Colonists’ American Revolution: Preserving English Liberty, 1607–1783

 The Colonists’ American Revolution: Preserving English Liberty, 1607-1783, by Guy Chet (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2020) To my way of thinking, when we try to understand people and events in the past, we benefit more from channeling their understanding of their actions and beliefs, rather than identifying motivating forces that were hidden from them at […]

by Timothy Symington
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Features Posted on

Occupied America: British Military Rule and the Experience of Revolution

Occupied America: British Military Rule and the Experience of Revolution by Donald F. Johnson (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020) Several cities in Revolutionary America were taken by British forces and the residents found themselves in an unexpected predicament. Many welcomed the return of law and order and a stable economy under British rule; the […]

by Timothy Symington