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By Thomas Fleming

Why is the parable of 1776?

To nation it in its baldest phrases: This was once the single time in American lifestyles whilst idealism was once actually in flower. Made attainable by means of the purest kind of patriotism, led by way of a soldier whom each person cherished - George Washington - who, in flip, was once guided through a caucus of political geniuses in Philadelphia - the Continental Congress - reliable farmers raced from their plows to hurl themselves into clash with British mercenaries. by no means have such a lot of nice males, magnetic leaders, sprung from nowhere to steer a humans infused with a stunning enthusiasm for liberty.

In this publication, manhattan occasions bestselling historian Thomas Fleming explodes this fantasy through analyzing all of the dimensions of that 12 months - really the least identified points of the typical, fallible humanity of the boys and girls of the Revolution.

The 12 months 1776 ended with either the americans and the British stripped in their illusions. either side were pressured to desert the parable in their invincibility and to...

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Sample text

In Massachusetts, for instance, anyone over the age of twenty-one who owned land yielding 40 shillings in rent a year or property worth £40 could vote. In states ranging from Massachusetts to New Jersey to Virginia, between 80 to 90 percent of the adult males could easily scrape together sufficient property to qualify as voters. As Thomas Hutchinson, the governor of Massachusetts, informed a British official in 1772, the £40 “may be in clothes, household furniture or any sort of property . . ” An equally strong disinclination to challenge anyone who wanted to vote prevailed in the rest of America.

But they were still a mile and a half from Arnold and his men when all Quebec seemed to explode. Arnold and his forlorn hope had escaped detection. But a sharp-eyed sentry had spotted the rest of the Americans as they advanced Indian file past the Palace gate, the northern entrance to the Upper Town. “A horrible roar of cannon . . and the ringing of all the bells in the city, which are very numerous and of all sizes” momentarily numbed the brain of young John Joseph Henry. Moments later, rockets soared up from Saint John’s Gate and from the Diamond Bastion, as Livingston’s Canadians and a hundred Connecticut men led by Captain Jacob Brown began their feint attacks on these strongpoints.

But there is no evidence for the claim, made years later by his admirers. On the other side of Quebec, Benedict Arnold was marshaling his confused, battered companies for the assault on the barrier that blocked their way into the Sault au Matelot. At least two cannon were behind the barrier. The breathless Lamb gasped out the bad news that he had abandoned the only American cannon. It would have to be muskets and bayonets against twelve-pounders loaded with grape. Roaring, “Now, lads, all together rush,” Arnold charged into the cannon’s mouth.

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