The Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775

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The Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775

Author: William H. Hallahan
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Copyright: 2001
Pages: 352
Cover Price: $ 14.99

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The shot heard 'round the world traveled at slightly less than the speed of sound, as the news of its firing took four days to travel from Lexington Green to New York, five days to Philadelphia, and more than five weeks to distant London. William H. Hallahan follows the news--and the reactions it provoked--in The Day the American Revolution Began.

Reminiscent of the best historical fiction, Hallahan's narrative examines the events leading up to the fateful day and profiles many players on both sides of the conflict. Some are little known, such as Mrs. Moulton, an elderly resident of Concord who insisted that Colonel Smith put out a fire his Redcoats had set; or Samuel Jarvis, who, with his wife and four children, was stripped naked, then tarred and feathered by a rebel mob because he was a Loyalist. Hallahan also treats us to behind-the-scenes glimpses of the more famous: John Hancock, having fled Lexington, sends back for a salmon he had inadvertently left behind ("Excitement always made him ravenous"); General Gage, looking across the masses of wounded men in his army camp at his American-born wife, suspects she was the spy who had revealed his military plans against Concord to the rebels.

Throughout the book, Hallahan remains remarkably balanced. The British were not all bullheaded tyrants (indeed, many were reluctant to go to war against their colonists), nor were the Americans all noble patriots. The excesses of Samuel Adams's mob--and his questionable political tactics--are discussed at length. Hallahan's extensive use of diaries, letters, broadsheets, and memoirs, as well as official accounts, lends his prose an immediacy lacking in many studies. Readers looking for an in-depth study of the battles of the American Revolution may be disappointed; only the actions at Lexington and Concord receive Hallahan's attention. But careful attention it is, and The Day the American Revolution Began is an engaging, entertaining, informative read. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney

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Background Information

Concord, Massachusetts, is close to Boston and was the scene of some of the first fighting in the American Revolution. Those citizens of the American colonies who kept their loyalty to Britain were known as Tories, or Loyalists. The battles of Lexington and Concord, fought on April 19, 1775 near Boston, were the first military engagements of the American Revolution.