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Historical Background

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

Suggested Reading

Colonials and Patriots

1. The English Colonies, 1700-1775

ADAMS, JAMES TRUSLOW. Provincial Society, 1690-1763. Vol. III of A History of American Life, ed. by Arthur M. Schlesinger and Dixon R. Fox. New York: Macmillan, 1927. One of a series attempting to portray the history of America in social terms, this volume focuses on colonial society while minimizing the political and military aspects of colonial history.

ANDREWS, CHARLES M. The Colonial Period of American History. 4 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934-38. A detailed and scholarly study of the American Colonies, written from the "English end," i.e., considering the Colonies integral parts of the British imperial system rather than as embryo States. An advanced work, useful for its examination of the interrelationship between the Colonies and the mother country.

ANDREWS, CHARLES M. The Colonial Background of the American Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931. Andrews here analyzes the forces and events that produced the Revolution. As in his later and larger work, listed above, he treats all the American Colonies, not just the 13 that revolted.

BRIDENBAUGH, CARL. Cities in the Wilderness: The First Century of Urban Life in America, 1625-1742. 2d ed. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1955. Cities in Revolt: Urban Life in America, 1743-1776. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1955. Through the medium of five representative cities, Bridenbaugh surveys the cultural, political, economic and social life of urban colonial America, and concludes that the influence of towns upon colonial development has been greatly underrated by historians.

CHANNING, EDWARD. A History of the United States. 6 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1932-36. Vols. 1 and 2. One of the standard authorities, Channing was nevertheless a rather discursive historian. The information and interpretation are there, but are sometimes difficult to locate.

GIPSON, LAWRENCE H. The British Empire Before the American Revolution. 11 vols. Caldwell, Idaho, and New York, 1936—A monumental project, of which 10 volumes have been completed, this study is especially valuable for its discussion of the Anglo-French struggle for the North American Continent.

GREENE, EVARTS BOUTELL. The Revolutionary Generation, 1763-1790. Vol. 4 of A History of American Life, ed. by A. M. Schlesinger and D. R. Fox. New York: Macmillan, 1943. Like Adams' Provincial Society, this volume accents social and economic aspects of American history.

MORGAN, EDMUND S. AND HELEN M. The Stamp Act Congress: Prologue to Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953. This book stands as the best study of the subject.

MORRISON, HUGH. Early American Architecture, from the First Colonial Settlements to the National Period. New York: Oxford University Press, 1952. Morrison creditably performs a rigidly defined task: to write "a comprehensive account in one volume of architecture in the American colonies from St. Augustine in 1565 to San Francisco in 1848." This book, profusely illustrated, is invaluable for the study of 18th-century colonial architecture.

OSGOOD, HERBERT L. The American Colonies in the Eighteenth Century. 4 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1924. As in his earlier study of the Colonies in the 17th century, Osgood focuses on political and institutional history and on the "intercolonial" wars.

PARKMAN, FRANCIS. History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac. Boston, 1851, and many subsequent editions. This classic work surpassed every thing previously written on Pontiac's War and all writers since 1851 have drawn on Parkman. The book is outstanding not only for its wealth of accurate detail but also for its literary quality.

SAVELLE, MAX. The Foundations of American Civilization: A History of Colonial America. New York: Henry Holt and Co., c. 1942. In this college textbook, Savelle undertakes a comprehensive discussion of the colonial period and the beginnings of the United States. Although it contains a few minor errors, it is a lucid discussion of a complicated subject.

2. The American Revolution, 1775-1783

ABERNETHY, THOMAS P. Western Lands and the American Revolution. New York: Appleton-Century for the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, University of Virginia, 1937. Basic study of the western land policies of the Colonies during the Revolution and of the political consequences of the westward movement.

ALDEN, JOHN R. The American Revolution, 1775-1783, in "The New American Nation Series," New York: Harper and Bros., 1954. This work is especially valuable for its treatment of the military aspects of the Revolution. It also discusses quite fully the British and European situations of the period and gives a briefer treatment of the colonial home front. An excellent one-volume treatment of the entire Revolutionary episode.

ALLEN, GARDNER W. A Naval History of the American Revolution. 2 vols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1913. Detailed narrative, based on exhaustive archival research, of the operations of all Continental warships.

BEMIS, SAMUEL FLAGG. The Diplomacy of the American Revolution. New York: Appleton-Century, 1935. Basic study of American foreign policy during the war, this book has as a central theme the progressive involvement of the United States in European diplomacy as a result of the alliance with France.

BURNETT, EDMUND C. The Continental Congress. New York: Macmillan, 1941. Burnett details the activities of the Continental Congress and assesses its role in the conduct of the war, and in laying the foundation for the governmental forms that sprang from it.

FREEMAN, DOUGLAS SOUTHALL. George Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948-57 (Vol. 7 by John A. Carroll and Mary W. Ashworth). The definitive biography of the great American leader, produced by painstaking research into all available sources by one of the most gifted of military historians. The fourth and fifth volumes deal exclusively with Washington's career during the War for Independence.

GIPSON, LAWRENCE H. The Coming of the Revolution, 1763-1775 in "The New American Nation Series." New York: Harper and Bros., 1954. Gipson here traces the clash between British efforts to tighten imperial administration and the colonial effort to achieve greater autonomy.

MONTROSS, LYNN. Rag, Tag and Bobtail: The Story of the Continental Army, 1775-1783. New York: Harper and Bros., c. 1952. A fine study of the military phases of the war, notable for thorough research and the quality of the numerous maps. The author is an admirer of Horatio Gates and considers that Benedict Arnold's pre-treason services to the American cause have been overrated.

SCHEER, GEORGE F., and HUGH F. RANKIN. Rebels and Redcoats. Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Co., c. 1957. Described by the authors as "a mosaic that tells a developing story," this is an absorbing history of the war told largely in the words of participants. Much of the value and interest of the narrative is due to skillful editing and the informative narration that links the excerpts.

VAN TYNE, CLAUDE H. The Causes of the War of Independence: Being the First Volume of a History of the Founding of the American Republic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1922. The War of Independence, American Phase: Being the Second Volume of a History of the Founding of the American Republic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1929. In the first volume, the author surveys the forces that produced the Revolution, and in the second he carries the war to the entry of the French, where death interrupted his labor.

WARD, CHRISTOPHER. The War of the Revolution, ed. by John R. Alden. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1952. Ward had nearly completed his history of land operations in the Revolution when he died in 1943, and it was finished by Alden. The book excells in narrative description of battles and movements.

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Last Updated: 09-Jan-2005