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A Man Apart: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774 - 1781
     

A Man Apart: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774 - 1781

by Harold B. Gill Jr., George M. Curtis III, George M. Curtis (Introduction)
 

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The American Revolution radically changed the lives of many, some of them friends of the Revolution, some not, and some who wished to have no part of it for either side. Rarely did one of these reluctant witnesses leave a narrative journal. Nicholas Cresswell, a young English gentry farmer, was one. Arriving in Virginia during the momentous month of May 1774,

Overview

The American Revolution radically changed the lives of many, some of them friends of the Revolution, some not, and some who wished to have no part of it for either side. Rarely did one of these reluctant witnesses leave a narrative journal. Nicholas Cresswell, a young English gentry farmer, was one. Arriving in Virginia during the momentous month of May 1774, Cresswell set out to seek his fortune as a farmer in the newer settlements in northwest Virginia. Soon the fortunes of Revolution overwhelmed him and his plans to begin a new life in America. For the next three years, Cresswell struggled to sustain his mission. Time was against him as his combatants on both sides, with increasingly ominous insistence, sought for and demanded his allegiance. This he never ceded. The very act of keeping a journal became dangerous. His written account of his attempt to sustain his liberty has long been a significant window into the turbulence of the Revolution. In offering this singular view of liberty during the Revolution, Nicholas Cresswell stood and still stands as a rebuke to subsequent historians of the Revolution, patriot leaning or loyalist leaning, who had difficulty in accommodating this journal into their generalized views of causation and justification. As a consequence, much of Cresswell's real perspectives were either lost or misinformed. In 1928, an edition of Cresswell's journal was published, but it was expurgated and not annotated. This edition of the Cresswell journal is the first unexpurgated and annotated edition ever published. As such, it offers new light for the better illumination of the turbulent world of revolutionary politics and personalities.

Editorial Reviews

Vol. 77 No. 2 Spring 2010 Northwest Ohio History
The journal of Nicholas Cresswell has been published previously, in whole and in part. Yet the meticulous annotation by Gill and Curtis greatly enhances its usefulness and value. An informative introduction provides helpful context. Topical chapters organize the body of the journal (following the manuscript structure). Extensive explanatory notes at the close of each chapter support specific references by Cresswell.... Their work and care to make this remarkable journal as informative as possible is apparent at every turn. The result serves both scholarly and amateur purposes very well. The supporting material also makes it suitable for classroom adoption (indeed, undergraduates may respond well to this young man with all his attitude and ambition).
Kevin R. C. Gutzman
Englishman Nicholas Creswell arrived in Virginia intending to stake out a future for himself in the Backcountry, and instead his project came a cropper in the American Revolution. His diary is a tremendous Loyalist account of the early days of the Revolution, when what seemed to Creswell the most blessed people in the world sacrificed their liberty to the mania for 'liberty' —a repressively egalitarian democracy. Military events, economic developments, sexual mores, life among the Indians, religious currents, the distinct characters of different colonies, and numerous other aspects of Revolutionary history are elucidated as nowhere else in this fabulously edited new edition.
Journal of Southern History
Readers will find Gill and Curtis's contribution useful in a variety of ways, from their well-written introduction to the copious endnotes and extensive bibliography. This edition of Cresswell's journal deserves recognition as well as a wide readership.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739128473
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
03/16/2009
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Harold B. Gill Jr. is consulting editor of the Colonial Williamsburg Journal. George M. Curtis III is professor of American history at Hanover College.

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