American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence

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Drawn from letters, diaries, newspaper articles, public declarations, contemporary narratives, and private memoranda, The American Revolution brings together over 120 pieces by more than 70 participants to create a unique literary panorama of the War of Independence. From Paul Revere's own narrative of his ride in April 1775 to an account of George Washington's resignation from command of the Army in December 1783, the volume presents firsthand all the major events of the conflict-the early battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill; the failed American invasion of Canada; the battle of Saratoga; the fighting in the South and along the western frontier; and the decisive triumph at Yorktown. The American Revolution includes a chronology of events, biographical and explanatory notes, and an index.

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Editorial Reviews

Forbes Magazine
A superb compendium of contemporary documents, diaries, letters, newspapers articles and narratives from the American Revolutionary War period. These were written by a broad array of people, ranging from George Washington to Benedict Arnold (justifying his treason-one of the earliest and brazen examples of what we now call spin) to ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. Once you become accustomed to the period’s writing style, you get a you-are-there view of this incredible conflict. (1 Oct 2001)
—Steve Forbes
Library Journal
This is the newest volume from the Library of America, which aims to make major classics of American literature available in reasonably priced, archival editions. Editor Rhodehamel, the Norris Foundation Curator of American History at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, has assembled a comprehensive collection of over 120 pieces by more than 70 Revolution-era writers from both sides of the War of Indepedence. The book begins with Paul Revere's personal account of his famous ride in April 1775 and ends with a description of George Washington's resignation from the command of the Continental Army in December 1783. Other selections include letters, speeches, and newspaper articles. The authors range from the famous (Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine) to more obscure American and British observers of signal events. The collection contains eyewitness accounts of just about every significant development during the Revolution. At the book's end one can find a long section that includes a chronology, biographical sketches of the authors, and other notes on the texts. Highly recommended for all academic and public libraries. T.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
One of the Library of America's editions of historic writings, this is a collection of papers from the Revolutionary period. It starts with Paul Revere's own account of his famous ride in 1775 and ends with a description of George Washington's resignation from the Continental Army in 1783. Journal entries, letters, newspaper articles, and public documents are included, written by Revolutionary leaders, soldiers and their wives, British officers, and Colonial loyalists. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883011918
  • Publisher: Library of America
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Series: Library of America Series
  • Pages: 874
  • Sales rank: 994,050
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 8.15 (h) x 1.48 (d)

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Chapter One


Paul Revere: Memorandum on Events
of April 18, 1775

Paul Revere of Boston, in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in New England; of Lawfull Age, doth testify and say, that I was sent for by Duct Joseph Warren, of said Boston, on the evening of the 18th of April, about 10 oClock; when he desired me "to go to Lexington, and inform Mr Samuel Adams, and the Honle John Hancock Esqr that there was a number of Soldiers, composed of Light troops, & Grenadiers, marching to the bottom of the Common, where was a number of Boats to receive them; it was supposed, that they were going to Lexington, by the way of Cambridge River, to take them or go to Concord, to distroy the Colony Stores." I proceeded immeditely, and was put across Charles River, and landed near Charlestown Battery, went in town, and there got a Horse, while in Charlestown, I was informed by Richd Devens Esqr that he mett that evening, after Sun sett, Nine Officers of the Ministeral Army, mounted on good Horses, & Armed, going towards Concord; I set off, it was then about 11 oClock, the Moon shone bright. I had got almost over Charlestown Common, towards Cambridge, when I saw two Officers on Horseback, standing under the shade of a Tree, in a narrow part of the roade. I was near enough to see their Holsters, & cockades. One of them Started his horse towards me, the other up the road, as I supposed, to head me should I escape the first. I turned my horse short about, and rid upon a full Gallop for Mistick Road, he followed me about 300 yardes, and finding he could not catch me, returned. I proceeded to Lexington, thro Mistick, and alarmed Mr Adams & Col. Hancock. After I had been there about half an hour Mr Daws arrived, who came from Boston, over the neck; we set off for Concord, & were overtaken by a young Gentn named Prescot, who belonged to Concord, & was going home; when we had got about halfway from Lexington to Concord, the other two, stopped at a House to awake the man, I kept along. When I had got about zoo Yards ahead of them, I saw two officers as before. I called to my company to come up, saying here was two of them, (for I had told them what Mr Devens told me, and of my being stoped) in an instant, I saw four of them, who rode up to me, with their pistols in their hands, said G—d d—n you stop, if you go au Inch further, you are a dead Man. immeditly Mr. Prescot came up we attempted to git thro them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out, (they had placed themselves opposite to a pair of Barrs, and had taken the Barrs down) they forced us in, when we had got in, Mr Prescot said put on. He took to the left, I to the right, towards a Wood, at the bottom of the Pasture, intending, when I gained that, to jump my Horse & run afoot; just as I reached it, out started six officers, siesed my bridle, put their pistols to my Breast, ordered me to dismount, which I did. One of them, who appeared to have the command there, and much of a Gentleman, asked me where I came from; I told him, he asked what time I left it; I told him, be seemed surprised, said Sr, may I crave your name. I answered my name is Revere, what said he, Paul Revere; I answered yes; the others abused me much; but he told me not to be afraid, no one should hurt me. I told him they would miss their Aim. He said they should not, they were only waiting for some Deserters they expected down the Road. I told him I knew better, I knew what they were after; that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their Boats were catch'd aground, and I should have 500 men there soon; one of them said they had 1500 coming; he seemed surprised and rode off into the road and informed them who took me, they came down immeditly on a full gallop, one of them (whom I since learned, was Major Mitchel of the 5th Regt) clapd his Pistol to my head, and said he was going to ask me some questions, if l did not tell the truth, he would blow my brains out. I told him I esteemed myself a man of truth, that he had stopped me on the highway, & made me a prisoner, I knew not by what right; I would tell him the truth; I was not afraid. He then asked me the same questions that the other did, and many more, but was more particular; I gave him much the same answers; he then ordered me to mount my horse, they first searched me for pistols. When I was mounted, the Major took the reins out of my hand, and said, by G—d Sr, you are not to ride with reins I assure you; and gave them to an officer on my right to lead me. he then Ordered 4 men out of the Bushes, and to mount their horses; they were country men which they had stopped who were going home; then ordered us to march. He said to me "We are now going towards your friends, and if you attempt to run, or we are insulted, we will blow your Brains out." When we had got into the road they formed a circle and ordered the prisoners in the centre & to lead me in the front.

    We rid towards Lexington, a quick pace; they very often insulted me calling me Rebel, &c &c. after we had got about a mile, I was given to the Sergant to lead, he was Ordered to take out his pistol (he rode with a hanger) and if I run, to execute the Major's sentence; When we got within about half a Mile of the Meeting house, we heard a gun fired; the Major asked me what it was for, I told him to alarm the country; he Ordered the four prisoners to dismount, they did, then one of the officers dismounted and cutt the Bridles, and Saddels, off the Horses, & drove them away, and told the men they might go about their business; I asked the Major to dismiss me, he said he would carry me, lett the consequence be what it will; He then Orderd us to march; when we got within sight of the Meeting House, we heard a Volley of guns fired, as I supposed at the tavern, as an Alarm; the Major ordered us to halt. he asked me how far it was to Cambridge, and many more questions, which I answered; he then asked the Sergant, if his horse was tired, he said yes; he Ordered him to take my horse; I dismounted, the Sarjant mounted my horse; they cutt the Bridle & saddle off the Sarjant's horse & rode off down the road. I then went to the house where I left Mess Adams & Hancock, and told them what had happined; their friends advised them to go out of the way: I went with them, about two miles a cross road; atter resting myself, I sett off with another man to go back to the Tavern, to enquire the News; when we got there, we were told the troops were within two miles. We went into the Tavern to git a Trunk of papers belonging to Col. Hancock, before we left the House, I saw, the Ministeral Troops from the Chamber window. We made haste & had to pass thro' our Militia, who were on a green behind the Meeting house, to the number as I supposed, about 50 or 60. I went thro' them; as I passed I heard the commanding officer speake to his men to this purpose. "Lett the troops pass by, & don't molest them, without they begin first" I had to go a cross Road, but had not got half Gun shot off when the Ministeral Troops appeared in sight behinde the Meeting House; they made a short halt, when a gun was fired. I heard the report, turned my head, and saw the smoake in front of the Troops, they imeaditly gave a great shout, ran a few paces, and then the whole fired. I could first distinguish Iregular fireing, which I suppose was the advance Guard, and then platoons. At the time I could not see our Militia, for they were covered from me, by a house at the bottom of the Street, and further saith not.

Excerpted from The American Revolution by John Rhodehamel. Copyright © 2001 by Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Table of Contents

Memorandum on Events of April 18, 1775: The War Begins: Massachusetts, April 1775 1
Diary, April 18-21, 1775: The British Retreat from Concord: Massachusetts, April 1775 5
Thomas Gage to the Earl of Dartmouth, April 22, 1775: "Fire from every Hill, Fence, House, Barn": Massachusetts, April 1775 19
John Dickinson to Arthur Lee, April 29, 1775: A Pennsylvanian Reacts to Lexington and Concord: April 1775 21
from "The Origin & Progess of the American Rebellion": A Tory View of Lexington and Concord: Spring 1775 25
Address to the Continental Congress, June 16, 1775: Washington Accepts Command: Philadelphia, June 1775 31
John Adams to Abigail Adams, June 17, 1775: Washington's Appointment: June 1775 32
Eliphalet Dyer to Joseph Trumbull, June 17, 1775: An Appraisal of Washington: June 1775 34
Samuel Blachley Webb to Joseph Webb, June 19, 1775: Battle of Bunker Hill: Massachusetts, June 1775 36
George Washington to Burwell Bassett, June 19, 1775: "Imbarkd on a tempestuous Ocean": June 1775 41
John Adams to Abigail Adams, June 23, 1775: Washington Leaves for Boston: June 1775 43
from "The Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion": A Tory View of Bunker Hill: Summer 1775 44
Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, July 5, 1775: "You are now my Enemy": July 1775 53
The Continental Congress: Address to the Six Nations, July 13, 1775: An Appeal to the Iroquois: July 1775 54
Abigail Adams to John Adams, July 16, 1775: A Visit with Washington: July 1775 61
Lord Rawdon to the Earl of Huntingdon, August 3, 1775: A British Account of Bunker Hill: August 1775 67
from "A narrative of Col. Ethan Allen's captivity": An American Defeat in Canada: September 1775 71
To the Virginia Gazette, November 24, 1775: Response to Lord Dunmore's Proclamation: November 1775 81
William Woodford to Edmund Pendleton, December 5, 1775: Slaves Fighting with the British: Virginia, December 1775 87
Martha Washington to Elizabeth Ramsay, December 30, 1775: The Continental Army Outside Boston: December 1775 91
Journal, November 1-Decemebr 31, 1775: The Invasion of Canada: 1775 93
Sarah Hodgkins and Joseph Hodgkins, February 1-20, 1776: A Continental Officer and his Wife Correspond: February 1776 109
John Bowater to the Earl of Denbigh, March 25, 1776: The British Evacuate Boston: March 1776 113
Abigail Adams to John Adams, March 31, 1776: "Remember the Ladies": March 1776 116
from "The Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion": A Tory View of the Siege of Boston: Fall 1775-Spring 1776 119
John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776: Congress Votes for Independence: July 1776 124
The Declaration of Independence: Philadelphia, July 4, 1776 128
Journal, July 10, 1776: New York Celebrates Independence: July 1776 132
Diary, June 26-July 16, 1776: Slaves Join the British: Virginia, Summer 1776 133
Journal, July 12-23, 1776: The British Fleet Arrives at New York: July 1776 142
Memorandum on Meeting Between George Washington and James Peterson, July 20, 1776: Washington Refuses to Negotiate: New York, July 1776 152
Benjamin Franklin to Lord Howe, July 20, 1776: "It is impossible we should think of Submission": July 1776 156
Henry Laurens to John Laurens, August 14, 1776: Events in South Carolina: Summer 1776 159
Journal, August 11-30, 1776: The Continental Army at New York: August 1776 171
Diary, August 27-28, 1776: Battle of Long Island: August 1776 183
Memorandum of Meeting Between Lord Howe and the American Commissioners, September 11, 1776: A British Peace Plan Fails: September 1776 186
Journal, August 22-September 15, 1776: British Victories at New York: Summer 1776 192
Journal, September 15, 1776: Battle of Kips Bay: New York, September 1776 219
Journal, September 15-16, 1776: Kips Bay and Harlem Heights: New York, September 1776 222
Diary, September 20-22, 1776: The Burning of New York: September 1776 225
Robert Auchmuty to the Earl of Huntingdon, January 8, 1777: Capture of Fort Washington: New York, November 1776 230
George Washington to Lund Washington, December 10 and 17, 1776: The American Retreat: Pennsylvania, December 1776 234
The American Crisis, Number 1, December 19, 1776: Philadelphia, December 1776 238
Diary, December 18-25, 1776: Defending Philadelphia: Pennsylvania, December 1776 247
George Washington to John Hancock, December 27, 1776: Battle of Trenton: New Jersey, December 1776 254
Diary, January 2-4, 1777: Battle of Princeton: New Jersey, January 1777 257
Journal, January 5-17, 1777: News of Trenton: Virginia, January 1777 264
Narrative: American Prisoners in New York: August 1776-January 1777 266
Diary, February 13-24, 1777: Skirmishing in New Jersey: February 1777 295
Abigail Adams to John Adams, March 8, 1777: Hardship in Massachusetts: March 1777 301
Proclamation, June 23, 1777: "The Vengeance of the State": New York, June 1777 303
Journal, July 24-October 13, 1777: The Saratoga Campaign: New York, July-October 1777 306
Journal, August 31-October 4, 1777: The Fall of Philadelphia: Pennsylvania, August-October 1777 334
John Glover to Jonathan Glover and Azor Orne, September 21 and 29, 1777: Battle of Freeman's Farm: New York, September 1777 348
John Adams to Abigail Adams, September 30, 1777: Congress Flees Philadelphia: September 1777 351
Samuel Shaw to Francis Shaw, September 30, October 3, 13, and 15, 1777: Battle of Germantown: Pennsylvania, October 1777 353
Diary, September 16-December 14, 1777: Occupation of Philadelphia: September-December 1777 359
Journal, October 19-December 12, 1777: the Continental Army at Whitemarsh: Pennsylvania, October-December 1777 383
General Orders, December 17, 1777: The Army Seeks Winter Quarters: Pennsylvania, December 1777 398
Diary, December 11-29, 1777: The Army Moves to Valley Forge: Pennsylvania, December 1777 400
John Laurens to Henry Laurens, January 14 and February 2, 1778: A Proposal to Free and Arm Slaves: January-February 1778 410
John Laurens to Henry Laurens, May 7, 1778: News of the French Alliance: Valley Forge, May 1778 414
Journal, March 9-June 19, 1778: The British Abandon Philadelphia: March-June 1778 416
Response to British Peace Proposals, June 13-17, 1778: York, Pennsylvania, June 1778 444
Henry Laurens to Horatio Gates, June 17, 1778: "The Door is shut": June 1778 450
Journal, June 16-July 5, 1778: The British Retreat to New York: New Jersey, June-July 1778 452
Journal, June 18-July 23, 1778: The American Advance: New Jersey, June-July 1778 459
John Laurens to Henry Laurens, June 30 and July 2, 1778: Battle of Monmouth: New Jersey, June 1778 470
Narrative of the Wyoming Massacre: Frontier Warfare: Pennsylvania, July 1778 476
from "The Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion": A Tory View of Frontier Warfare: Summer 1778 487
George Washington to Henry Laurens, November 14, 1778: Opposing a proposal to invade Canada: November 1778 490
George Washington to Benjamin Harrison, December 18, 1778: The Weakness of Congress: December 1778 493
Stephen De Lancey to Cornelia Barclay De Lancey, January 14, 1779: The Fall of Savannah: Georgia, January 1779 498
Narrative of the March to Vincennes: Capture of Vincennes: Illinois Country, February 1779 502
Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, March 14, 1779: "To give them their freedom with their muskets": March 1779 523
George Washington to Henry Laurens, March 20, 1779: Arming Slaves "a moot point": March 1779 526
Samuel Shaw to Francis and Sarah Shaw, June 28, 1779: Depreciation of Continental Currency: New York, June 1779 528
"A Whig": To the Public, July 30, 1779: Banishing Tories: Philadelphia, July 1779 530
Journal, August 27-September 14, 1779: War Against the Iroquois: New York, August-September 1779 534
John Paul Jones to Benjamin Franklin, October 3, 1779: Battle in the North Sea: October 1779 543
Journal, April 2-May 12, 1780: The Siege of Charleston: South Carolina, April-May 1780 559
The Sentiments of a Lady in New-Jersey, July 12, 1780: Aiding the Continental Army: July 1780 575
Narrative of the Battle of Camden: An American Rout: South Carolian, August 1780 578
"Strayed ... a whole Army,": September 16, 1780: A Loyalist Satire: New York, September 1780 590
To the Inhabitants of America, October 7, 1780: Arnold Justifies His Actions: New York, October 1780 592
Benedict Arnold to Lord Germain, October 7, 1780: A Report on the Continental Army: New York, October 1780 596
Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, c. October 11, 1780: Arnold and Major Andre: New York, September-October 1780 600
Narrative of the Battle of King's Mountain: South Carolina, October 1780 610
Circular to the State Governments, October 18, 1780: An Appeal for New Troops: October 1780 615
Diary, October 7-November 25, 1780: A Loyalist Prisoner: South Carolina, October-November 1780 622
Letterbook Extracts, January 2-17, 1781: Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line: New Jersey, January 1781 630
Journal, January 3-21, 1781: British Attempts to Exploit the Mutiny: New Jersey, January 1781 638
George Washington to Philip Schuyler, January 10, 1781: "The event, which I have long dreaded": January 1781 647
Nathanael Greene to Alexander Hamilton, January 10, 1781: The Plight of the Southern Army: South Carolina, January 1781 649
Nathanael Greene to Catherine Greene, January 12, 1781: "The distress and misery that prevails": South Carolina, January 1781 654
Narrative to Arnold's Raid, January 13, 1781: The British Attack Richmond: Virginia, January 1781 656
Daniel Morgan to Nathanael Greene, January 19, 1781: Battle of Cowpens: South Carolina, January 1781 659
George Washington to Robert Howe, January 22, 1781: Mutiny of the New Jersey Line: New Jersey, January 1781 663
"Our Last Will and Testament," January 31, 1781: A Loyalist Satire of Congress: New York, January 1781 664
Nathanael Greene to George Washington, February 9, 1781: Cornwallis Invades North Carolina: February 1781 667
Nathanael Greene to Joseph Reed, March 18, 1781: Battle of Guilford Courthouse: North Carolina, March 1781 670
Nathanael Greene to George Washington, March 18, 1781: Prospects for Defeating Cornwallis: March 1781 674
Nathanael Greene to Thomas Jefferson, April 28, 1781: An Appeal for Support from Virginia: April 1781 676
Journal, May 1-15, 1781: The Pennsylvania Line Marches South: May 1781 679
Thomas Brown to David Ramsay, December 25, 1786: The War in Georgia: November 1778-June 1781 681
Diary, June 5-July 7, 1781: The Campaign in Virginia: June-July 1781 689
Journal, June 18-July 7, 1781: Skirmishing in Virginia: June-July 1781 699
James Robertson to William Knox, July 12, 1781: The British Consider Occupying Yorktown: July 1781 702
Narrative of the Battle of Eutaw Springs: South Carolina, September 1781 707
Journal, September 1-November 1, 1781: The Yorktown Campaign: Virginia, September-November 1781 721
Journal, September 28-October 20, 1781: Siege of Yorktown: Virginia, September-October 1781 727
James Robertson to Lord Amherst, October 17, 1781: The British Relief Expedition Sets Sail: New York, October 1781 742
Lord Cornwallis to Henry Clinton, October 20, 1781: Cornwallis Surrenders: Virginia, October 1781 744
Diary, October 25, 1781: Victory Celebrations in Philadelphia: October 1781 750
Observations on the War in Carolina Partisan Warfare in the South: May 1780-February 1782 752
William Feilding to the Earl of Denbigh, August 10, 1782: New York Loyalists Fear Peace: August 1782 769
Journal, January 4-December 13, 1781: The War Ends in South Carolina: January-December 1782 771
The Newburgh Address, c. March 10, 1783: An Officer Urges Disobedience to Congress: New York, March 1783 774
George Washington to Joseph Jones, March 12, 1783: Political Intrigue and the Army: New York, March 1783 778
Speech to the Officers, March 15, 1783: "The flood Gates of Civil discord": New York, March 1783 781
Samuel Shaw to the Rev. Eliot, c. April 1783: Washington at Newburgh: New York, April 1783 786
A New York Loyalist to Lord Hardwicke, c. Summer 1783: Loyalist Emigration: New York, Summer 1783 790
Speeches in the Continental Congress, December 23, 1783: Washington Resigns His Commission: Annapolis, December 1783 793
James McHenry to Margaret Caldwell, December 23, 1783: "The revolution just accomplished": Annapolis, December 1783 796
Chronology 801
Biographical Notes 813
Note on the Texts 830
Notes 842
Index 859
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