In addition to our online magazine and annual volumes, Journal of the American Revolution also oversees a namesake book series. With a concentration on microhistories, the mission of the Journal of the American Revolution book series is to feature meticulous, ideally groundbreaking research and well-written narratives about unknown or lesser-known topics. The series is published and co-edited with Westholme Publishing, LLC.
Carefully selected authors will benefit tremendously from a unique opportunity to gain the backing, resources and marketing of both an acclaimed nonfiction book publisher and the hottest history magazine in America. Readers of the new series will be transported back in time with intensive investigations of key moments in the conflict that forged a great nation. In a nutshell, the series aims to deliver the No. 1 author and reader experience.
If you have a manuscript in development that fits our mission and you would like to propose it for consideration as a JAR book, please take a few minutes to complete this online book proposal form.
1764: The First Year of the American Revolution by Ken Shumate
The year 1764 is of extraordinary importance to the history of the American Revolution. It was a watershed year in the relationship between Great Britain and its North American colonies.
In 1763, the British began to strictly enforce the laws of trade in order to advance a newly formulated colonial policy that included use of customs duties as a means of drawing revenue from the colonies. Americans early in 1764 protested that the laws being enforced were economically unsound and would be destructive to the trade of the colonies. Despite knowing of the American discontent, British officials moved forward with their new colonial policy. Resolutions made by the House of Commons in March 1764 not only codified a more restrictive trade policy, but revealed a plan to impose direct parliamentary taxation. A resolution to levy stamp duties brought forth a storm of American petitions and essays in late 1764 that constitute the beginning of what has become known as the Stamp Act Crisis.
In 1764: The First Year of the American Revolution, Ken Shumate presents the American arguments against the new British policy. The most prominent protests against direct parliamentary taxation were made by New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Supporting the petitions were thoughtful essays by James Otis, Oxenbridge Thacher, Richard Bland, Thomas Fitch, and Stephen Hopkins. Shumate demonstrates the importance of these petitions and essays, written before the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765, as establishing the constitutional basis for the heated protests of that year and the following decade. The British interpretation of these writings as rejecting the supremacy of Parliament—even the sovereignty of Great Britain—further motivated the need for the Stamp Act as a demonstration of the fundamental right of Parliament to levy such taxes.
Ken Shumate is an independent researcher specializing in the early years of the American Revolution, with a particular emphasis on parliamentary taxation. He has written about science, engineering, and software development issues, in technical papers, a magazine column on software design techniques, and five popular books.
Anatomy of a Massacre: The Destruction of Gnadenhutten, 1782 by Eric Sterner
On March 8, 1782, a group of western settlers killed nearly one hundred unarmed and peaceful Indians who had converted to Christianity under the tutelage of missionaries from the Church of the United Brethren. The murders were cold-blooded and heartless; roughly two-thirds of those executed were women and children. Its brutality stunned Benjamin Franklin in far-away France. He wrote: “the abominable Murders committed by some of the frontier People on the poor Moravian Indians, has given me infinite Pain and Vexation. The Dispensations of Providence in this World puzzle my weak Reason. I cannot comprehend why cruel Men should have been permitted thus to destroy their Fellow Creatures.” Since that maelstrom of violence struck the small Indian village of Gnadenhutten, history has treated the episode as a simple morality tale. While there were ample incidents of good and evil on March 8, that summation does not explain what brought murderers and victims together on the banks of the Muskingum River in today’s Ohio. It was actually the culmination of a series of events among different Indian tribes, the British, Congressional authorities at Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania militia, and key individuals, all of which are lost in contemporary explanations of the massacre.
Anatomy of a Massacre: The Destruction of Gnadenhutten, 1782 fills that void by examining the political maneuvering among white settlers, Continental officials, British officers, western Indian tribes, missionaries, and the Indians practicing Christianity that culminated in the massacre. Uniquely, it follows the developing story from each perspective, using first-person accounts from each group to understand how they saw and experienced the changes on the American frontier. Along the way it profiles some of the key individuals responsible for the way the war unfolded. It is a fresh look at an often mentioned, but seldom understood, episode in the American Revolution.
Eric Sterner is a writer focusing on American history. He held senior staff positions in Congress, served at the Department of Defense and NASA, and was a policy analyst in think tanks and private corporations. He earned a BA from The American University and two MAs from George Washington University. His history articles have appeared in a range of publications, including Naval History, Emerging Civil War, and Journal of the American Revolution.
General Peter Muhlenberg: Virginia Officer of the Continental Line by Michael Cecere
Standing at the pulpit in his church in the Shenandoah Valley, the preacher borrowed from Ecclesiastes, declaring in a firm voice that “To every thing there is a season . . . .” He then announced, “that there is a time to fight, and that time had now come,” and abruptly removed his clerical robe to reveal his colonel’s uniform. There is little doubt that this clergyman-turned-soldier uttered words to this effect, but whether he threw off his robe to reveal a gleaming uniform may be embellishment. In General Peter Muhlenberg: A Virginia Officer of the Continental Line, historian Michael Cecere cuts away the romanticism surrounding this fascinating character to present him as a highly capable and dedicated officer who served for seven long years in America’s War for Independence; a man of faith who held the high ideals of that office in his conduct with fellow officers and regular soldiers alike.
First appointed to lead the 8th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army, Muhlenberg and his troops served under General Charles Lee in the defense of Charleston in 1776. Sent north and promoted to brigadier-general, Muhlenberg participated in the ensuing battles of Brandywine, Germantown, the winter at Valley Forge, and the major clash at Monmouth Courthouse. In 1780, he returned to Virginia and stood at the forefront of Virginia’s defense when the British invaded in 1781. At Yorktown, Muhlenberg commanded the continental light infantry troops that stormed Redoubt No. 10, sealing Cornwallis’s fate. Focusing on the military career of Muhlenberg, and relying on a judicious amount of primary source material, the author follows Muhlenberg and his troops as they battled some of the most storied adversaries of the war, including John Graves Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers, Captain Johann Ewald’s German Jaegers, and Banastre Tarleton’s British Legion.
Admired by George Washington and his fellow officers and men, Muhlenberg was an American patriot who sacrificed much for his country’s cause, and truly “lived respected and died regretted by all good men.”
Michael Cecere received an MA in history and an MA in political science from the University of Akron. He teaches history at Gloucester High School, Virginia.
Washington’s War, 1779 by Benjamin Lee Huggins
Despite great limits of money and manpower, George Washington sought to wage an aggressive war in 1779. He launched the Sullivan–Clinton campaign against Britain’s Iroquois allies in upstate New York, and in response to British attacks up the Hudson River and against coastal Connecticut, he authorized raids on British outposts at Stony Point and Paulus Hook. But given power by Congress to plan and execute operations with the French on a continental scale, Washington planned his boldest campaign. When it appeared that the French would bring a fleet and an army to America, and supported by intelligence from his famed “Culper” spy network, the American commander proposed a joint Franco-American attack on the bastion of British power in North America—New York City—to capture its garrison. Such a blow, he hoped, would end the war in 1779. Based on extensive primary source material, Washington’s War 1779, by historian Benjamin Lee Huggins, describes Washington’s highly detailed plans and extensive preparations for his potentially decisive Franco-American campaign to defeat the British at New York in the fall of 1779. With an emphasis on Washington’s generalship in that year—from strategic and operational planning to logistics to diplomacy—and how it had evolved since the early years of the war, the book also details the other offensive operations in 1779, including the attacks in upstate New York, Stony Point, and Paulus Hook. Although the American and French defeat at Savannah, Georgia, prevented Washington from carrying out his New York offensive, Washington gained valuable experience in planning for joint operations that would help him win at Yorktown two years later.
Benjamin Lee Huggins served as an officer in the United States Navy and the Navy Reserve for twenty years. He received his PhD in history from George Mason University, and is a research associate professor and associate editor at the Papers of George Washington project at the University of Virginia. He has edited three volumes in the series and is currently working on a fourth. A regular contributor to the Journal of the American Revolution, he is also author of an essay in A Companion to George Washington, edited by Edward G. Lengel.
John Adams vs Thomas Paine: Rival Plans for the Early Republic by Jett B. Conner
Initially admiring Thomas Paine’s efforts for independence, John Adams nevertheless was rattled by the political philosophy of Common Sense and responded to it by publishing his Thoughts on Government to counteract Paine’s proposals, which Adams said were far too “democratical.” Although John Adams is given credit for his substantive contributions to American constitutionalism, especially his notions of separation of powers, checks and balances, and representation, in John Adams vs Thomas Paine: Rival Plans for the Early Republic, historian Jett B. Conner makes the case that Thomas Paine was more than just a revolutionary figure who spurred Americans toward declaring independence. Common Sense made important contributions to American constitutional thought, too, particularly its call for more equal representation, popular sovereignty, a constitutional convention, and a federal system of governance with a strong central government. The book explores how the two rivals helped shape America’s first constitutions—the Articles of Confederation, and those of several states—and how they continued contributing to American political thought as it developed during the so-called “critical period” between the adoption of the Articles of Confederation and the start of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It also focuses on the creation of our democratic republic and compares Paine and Adam’s approaches to structuring constitutions to ensure free government while guarding against abuses of power and the excesses of democratic majorities. An abridged version of Common Sense and the short but complete Thoughts on Government are included in an appendix for easy reader reference.
Jett B. Conner is professor emeritus of political science at Metropolitan State University of Denver and a former academic policy officer for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and studied the political thought of the American founding period during a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar at Princeton University.
Invasion of Virginia, 1781 by Michael Cecere
Benedict Arnold vs. the Marquis de Lafayette. The notorious traitor to the Patriot cause and the symbol of international recognition for American independence faced off in battle in Virginia in 1781. It was a strangely symbolic contest in a region that had, for the previous six years, seen very little fighting in spite of being between two major theaters of war. Virginia had been on the sidelines, but was suddenly a focal point, and would soon be the most critical place on the continent.
The early 1781 campaigns in the Virginia tidewater, from Norfolk to Richmond, are largely overshadowed by the British advance into North Carolina. Operations in the region, however, laid the groundwork for what would be the culmination of the war, the British decision to consolidate their forces at Yorktown on the James River.
Journal of the American Revolution is proud to present the first in-depth study of this neglected phase of the war. Author Michael Cecere has distilled the accounts of political and military participants at all levels to create a compact and quick-paced narrative of sparring between British expeditionary forces sent from New York and frequently-outnumbered local American defenders. The harrowing marches, daring raids and desperate clashes of arms are detailed from the perspective of the soldiers who fought them. They were part of a rapidly-developing series of events that set the stage for the better-known actions just a few months later.
Michael Cecere received an MA in history and an MA in political science from the University of Akron. He teaches history at Gloucester High School, Virginia.
A minor British naval officer was bent on stifling American trade. Rhode Islanders responded by setting fire to his ship. The investigation that followed was inconclusive due to the unwillingness of American colonists to reveal the slightest details of the attack or the participants.
This standard view of the destruction of HMS Gaspee in 1772 is essentially true, but is an oversimplification of what was in reality a complex and intriguing story, a critical part of the legal and political machinations on both sides of the Atlantic that resulted in the American Revolution. On the British side, trade regulation and customs enforcement were key components of a strategy to improve revenue and close severe budget shortfalls. On the American side, preservation and protection of rights granted in colonial charters were essential to the colonial way of life. Both sides were deliberate and methodical as they planned, organized, and executed conflicting strategies that culminated in violence on the waters of Narragansett Bay in colonial Rhode Island.
Steven Park examines the Gaspee affair more thoroughly than ever before, explaining not only the events on a fateful night in 1772, but the long series of political, legal and commercial activities that led to them. Also compelling is the detailed story of the legal proceedings that followed, which pitted an investigative commission hamstrung by procedural considerations against colonial officials determined to prevent any individual from being brought to trial. Most important, the author demonstrates the critical role that the burning of the Gaspee played in escalating the tensions that had been building for a decade. The Gaspee affair, seen by some as a minor outburst in an already-strained era, was turned into one of the biggest propaganda tools of the era. The destruction of this small ship had an impact that was unimagined when it occurred, leading citizens in throughout the colonies to embrace the spirit of resistance to Parliamentary rule. When the Gaspee was destroyed, so too was the possibility of a peaceful resolution to American colonial unrest.
Steven Park is the director of Academic Services at the University of Connecticut’s maritime campus where he teaches maritime studies. He received his PhD in history from the University of Connecticut, and his articles have appeared in a number of publications, including International Maritime History, American Neptune, Journal of the American Revolution, and Connecticut History Review.
In the early spring of 1775, on a farm in Concord, Massachusetts, British army spies located four brass cannon belonging to Boston’s colonial militia that had gone missing months before. British general Thomas Gage had been searching for them, both to stymie New England’s growing rebellion and to erase the embarrassment of having let cannon disappear from armories under redcoat guard. Anxious to regain those weapons, he drew up plans for his troops to march nineteen miles into unfriendly territory. The Massachusetts Patriots, meanwhile, prepared to thwart the general’s mission. There was one goal Gage and his enemies shared: for different reasons, they all wanted to keep the stolen cannon as secret as possible. Both sides succeeded well enough that the full story has never appeared until now.
The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by historian J. L. Bell reveals a new dimension to the start of America’s War for Independence by tracing the spark of its first battle back to little-known events beginning in September 1774. The author relates how radical Patriots secured those four cannon and smuggled them out of Boston, and how Gage sent out spies and search parties to track them down. Drawing on archives in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, the book creates a lively, original, and deeply documented picture of a society perched on the brink of war.
J. L. Bell is the proprietor of boston1775.net, a popular website dedicated to the history of the American Revolution in New England. A Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and American Antiquarian Society, he is author of the National Park Service’s study of George Washington’s work in Cambridge, and has delivered papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Organization of American Historians, and historic sites around greater Boston.
Grand Forage 1778: The Battleground Around New York City by Todd W. Braisted
After two years of defeats and reverses, 1778 had been a year of success for George Washington and the Continental Army. France had entered the war as the ally of the United States, the British had evacuated Philadelphia, and the redcoats had been fought to a standstill at the Battle of Monmouth. While the combined French-American effort to capture Newport was unsuccessful, it lead to intelligence from British-held New York that indicated a massive troop movement was imminent. British officers were selling their horses and laying in supplies for their men. Scores of empty naval transports were arriving in the city. British commissioners from London were offering peace, granting a redress of every grievance expressed in 1775. Spies repeatedly reported conversations of officers talking of leaving. To George Washington, and many others, it appeared the British would evacuate New York City, and the Revolutionary War might be nearing a successful conclusion. Then, on September 23, 1778, six thousand British troops erupted into neighboring Bergen County, New Jersey, followed the next day by three thousand others surging northward into Westchester County, New York. Washington now faced a British Army stronger than Burgoyne’s at Saratoga the previous year. What, in the face of all intelligence to the contrary, had changed with the British?
Through period letters, reports, newspapers, journals, pension applications, and other manuscripts from archives in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Germany, the complete picture of Britain’s last great push around New York City can now be told. The strategic situation of Britain’s tenuous hold in America is intermixed with the tactical views of the soldiers in the field and the local inhabitants, who only saw events through their narrow vantage points. This is the first publication to properly narrate the events of this period as one campaign. Grand Forage 1778: The Battleground Around New York City by historian Todd W. Braisted explores the battles, skirmishes, and maneuvers that left George Washington and Sir Henry Clinton playing a deadly game of chess in the lower Hudson Valley as a prelude to the British invasion of the Southern colonies.
Todd W. Braisted is a past president of the Bergen County Historical Society, an honorary vice-president of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada, and a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians. He has authored numerous articles and books on the American Revolution, and has appeared on such shows as PBS’sHistory Detectives. His website, royalprovincial.com, is a leading source for Loyalist information. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Susan.