cover image The Spirit of ’74: How the American Revolution Began

The Spirit of ’74: How the American Revolution Began

Ray and Marie Raphael. New Press, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62097-126-0

In this concise, lively narrative, spouses Ray (Constitutional Myths) and Marie Raphael (A Boy from Ireland) identify Massachusetts as the cradle of the colonial rebellion against England. The authors persuasively argue that between December 1773 and April 1775, the organized resistance to British authority that developed throughout the former Puritan stronghold amounted to revolution. They open with a smart retelling of the dumping of East India Company tea into Boston Harbor, an action carefully planned by city inhabitants fed up with British taxation policies and their political implications. The authors expertly build tension by layering colonial action and British reaction over subsequent events in Massachusetts, weaving in well-chosen anecdotes to illustrate their points. Both well- and lesser-known colonials appear, including John and Abigail Adams, workingman George Robert Twelves Hewes, and councilman Joshua Loring. The touchstone character, however, is not one of the Founding Fathers, but “Captain General and Governor-in-Chief” Thomas Gage, the Englishman tasked with subduing Massachusetts. Neither a buffoon nor a devil, he was ultimately outmaneuvered by colonists devoted to revolution. The Raphaels expertly contextualize how the outbreak of a shooting war at Lexington and Concord marked a crucial “turning point” in, rather than the beginning of, the American Revolution. [em](Sept.) [/em]