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The First American Revolution

Before Lexington and Concord

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


According to the traditional telling, the American Revolution began with “the shot heard round the world.” Now in paperback, Ray Raphael’s The First American Revolution uses the wide-angle lens of a people’s historian to tell a surprising new story of America’s revolutionary struggle.

In the years before the battle of Lexington and Concord, local people—men and women of common means but of uncommon courage—overturned British authority and declared themselves free from colonial oppression, with acts of rebellion that long predated the Boston Tea Party. In rural towns such as Worcester, Massachusetts, democracy set down roots well before the Boston patriots made their moves in the fight for independence. Richly documented, The First American Revolution recaptures in vivid detail the grassroots activism that drove events in the years leading up to the break from Britain.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 01, 2002 – Historian Raphael contends that the United States' war for independence did not begin in April 1775 with the "shot heard round the world." Rather it began the previous summer in rural towns like Worcester as patriots forced royal appointees to publicly resign their offices. These actions brought to a standstill the courts and public bodies established under the Massachusetts Government Act. The thousands of farmers and artisans then reclaimed the Charter of 1691 to democratically reopen the courts, establish new governmental bodies and organize a network of militias. Raphael thus brings into clear focus events and identities of ordinary people who should share the historic limelight with the Founding Fathers. This successful rebellion has until now remained obscure, the author says, because "he telling of history cries out for individual protagonists" while this revolution was decentralized and nonhierarchical, creating not leaders but a participatory democracy that, in Raphael's view, "far outreached the intentions of the so-called 'Founding Fathers.'" Moreover, unlike Lexington and Concord, this revolution involved no dramatic shedding of blood. Whether or not "the transfer of political authority to the American patriots" in 1774 was the "real revolution" making the clash in April 1775 a British counter-revolution to regain lost territory Raphael (A People's History of the American Revolution) makes a compelling case that these early events were critical to the success of the war that followed and should no longer escape our notice. His liberal use of primary sources (excerpts from town records, newspapers, letters, etc.), authoritative secondary sources and his meticulous care in footnoting will prove extremely useful for further study.
The First American Revolution
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  • $15.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: May 10, 2011
  • Publisher: The New Press
  • Seller: Perseus Books, LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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