The Rattle-Snake As A Symbol Of America

Only one man would have had the wit, the audacity, and the self-confidence to make the case

At the end of 1775, when fighting had already begun between the Americans and the British, an essay about the character of rattlesnakes appeared in the Pennsylvania Journal signed by “An American Guesser.” The Guesser, obviously a patriot and a witty one, has just recently been identified as Benjamin Franklin. This piece, and fifty-six other newly attributed writings, which have never before been collected, are included in the recently published Library of America volume Benjamin Franklin: Writings.Read more »

Trenton And Princeton

In the summer the stretch of the Delaware River north of Trenton, New Jersey, is as alluring as any place in the country. It is green and happy and eloquent of generations of peace and prosperity: prosperity from the river traffic and from the canal; prosperity from the steady little farming communities nearby and, in more recent years, from tourism. It is only in the winter that the countryside suggests with any conviction that this was once fought-over land. Read more »

The First Fourth

John Adams was certain the second of July would be celebrated “by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” Writing to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, the day after the Continental Congress had voted momentously for independence from Great Britain, Adams said of July 2: Read more »

Paul Revere

The Man, the Myth, and the Midnight Ride

A hurry of hoofs in a village street, A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, And beneath, from the pebbles, inpassing, a spark Struck out by a steed fying fearless and fleet; That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light The fate of a nation was riding that night.Read more »

The Stars And Stripes Forever

Unlike many other flags, which evolved long after the character of their nations was established, the American flag was born with the Revolution, and few if any national emblems have inspired the veneration we accord it. We salute the flag, pledge allegiance to it, fly it from our humblest homes and from our tallest buildings. We lavish it with affectionate epithets—Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Grand Old Flag, the Red, White, and Blue—and we even set aside a national holiday in its honor.Read more »

Men of the Revolution: 17. Joseph Reed

Like many another well-to-do young man of his day, Joseph Reed seems an unlikely revolutionist. His background, money, education, marriage—all these, one would suppose, would have placed him firmly on the side of the status quo, kept him loyal to the Crown. It did not turn out that way, of course; yet Reed was something of an enigma even to his contemporaries. Political radicals thought him insufficiently radical; many fellow officers considered him a reluctant soldier. Read more »

The Revolution Continues

The bell is old and it is badly cracked and it has not been rung for years, nor will it ever be rung again. But although it is quite useless from a practical standpoint, it is perhaps the most prized possession we have. It carries words about proclaiming liberty to all the people, and when it spoke it set off long echoes that have never stopped reverberating.Read more »

Saratoga

BATTLES OF THE REVOLUTION

On July first of 1777 the able, affable “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne set out from Crown Point on Lake Champlain with his competent Hessian ally, Baron Friedrich von Riedesel, thereby opening a campaign that he had wagered would see him home victorious by Christmas. Burgoyne’s plan was to bisect the colonies; Colonel Barry St. Leger would move east through the Mohawk Valley with seventeen hundred men, Howe would march north from New York, and Burgoyne would take his ninety-five hundred troops south to Albany, where he would meet with Howe and St. Leger.Read more »

The Ordeal Of Thomas Hutchinson

BETWEEN KING AND COUNTRY

The paradoxical and find tragic story of America’s most prominent Loyalist—a man caught between king and country— is the subject of a new book by Professor Bernard Bailyn of Harvard, who won both the Pulitizer and Bankcroft awards in 1868 for an earlier work on the American Revulotion. The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinsion has just been published by Harvard University Press. Our article is made up of excerpts from the first two chapters subtle and fascinating study. Read more »