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The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord Hardcover – April 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; FIRST EDITION edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156584730X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847309
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Historian Raphael contends that the United States' war for independence did not begin in April 1775 with the "shot heard round the world." Rather it began the previous summer in rural towns like Worcester as patriots forced royal appointees to publicly resign their offices. These actions brought to a standstill the courts and public bodies established under the Massachusetts Government Act. The thousands of farmers and artisans then reclaimed the Charter of 1691 to democratically reopen the courts, establish new governmental bodies and organize a network of militias. Raphael thus brings into clear focus events and identities of ordinary people who should share the historic limelight with the Founding Fathers. This successful rebellion has until now remained obscure, the author says, because "[t]he telling of history cries out for individual protagonists" while this revolution was decentralized and nonhierarchical, creating not leaders but a participatory democracy that, in Raphael's view, "far outreached the intentions of the so-called `Founding Fathers.'" Moreover, unlike Lexington and Concord, this revolution involved no dramatic shedding of blood. Whether or not "the transfer of political authority to the American patriots" in 1774 was the "real revolution" making the clash in April 1775 a British counter-revolution to regain lost territory Raphael (A People's History of the American Revolution) makes a compelling case that these early events were critical to the success of the war that followed and should no longer escape our notice. His liberal use of primary sources (excerpts from town records, newspapers, letters, etc.), authoritative secondary sources and his meticulous care in footnoting will prove extremely useful for further study.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

Raphael makes a compelling case that these early events were critical to the success of the war that followed and should no longer escape our notice. -- Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is a very interesting book.
C. Rotti
Very fascinating reading this book will be of interest to those scholars of the American revolution and America in general.
Seth J. Frantzman
This is an interesting perspective -- the democratic revolution betrayed by a conservative backlash.
Giordano Bruno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By L A Hazard on April 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Near the end of this book, the author makes the following statement......
"At Lexington, professional British soldiers fired at a handful of local farmers. This act of violence, allegedly perpetrated by the enemy, gave the Americans the moral high ground and helped mobilize support. The story had been repeated so often that it has effectively muffled the revolution of the preceding year. Leaderless, ubiquitous, and bloodless, the first transfer of political authority from the British to Americans has not been able to compete. It was not lacking as a revolution, it has only lacked an audience to comprehend and appreciate it."
Hopefully this book will help to provide the audience this neglected episode of American History deserves.
Mr. Raphael has done us a wonderful service in putting forth his research into the rebellion that took place in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1774. The "first American Revolution." He builds an impressive case not only for what took place, but also for the possible reasons why this rebellion has not received the recognition it is due. He even refers to what followed at Lexington and Concord as a "counterrevolution" on the part of the British government in an attempt to regain the colony they had already lost.
Examining what lead up to the British establishment of the Massachusetts Government Act, the response of the local farmers to it, how it spread throughout the rural communities of Massachusetts, and the resulting confrontation that came just under a year later at Lexington and Concord, the author gives factual backing to the belief that people can indeed work together without requiring "leaders" or some hierarchical structure to ensure success.
In general, people like to have individuals to hold on to when studying the past.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Reynaldo Rodriguez on May 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The author made this book easy to read. He broke down all the chaos in a manner that anyone can enjoy and understand. You learn about what was going on prior to General/Governor Gage sending British troops to Concord. After reading this book about the farmers and artisans of Western Massachusetts getting together and overthrowing British authority you realize why the British had to head for Concord rather than Worcester. As someone who lives in the area and is a Revolution buff, this book is a valuable piece of history. I hope that more such books by any historians are forthcoming and that the history books don't forget...
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. Bakken on April 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A well-researched and finely written account of the people's revolution in Massachusetts in the years before Lexington and Concord.
Raphael recounts the people's rising anger towards the Crown because of the Massachusetts Goverment Act (1774). This act, which allowed the King to appoint officials instead of allowing the citizens to elect them, turned the people against the Crown. Through acts of civil disobedience, illegal conventions, and threats against appointed officials, the people of Massachusetts effectively took control of their government from the British.
This is a great book that focuses on an aspect of the Revolution that is usually ignored or lightly touched on in any History class or book about the Revolution. It shows that the Revolution was started and won by ALL the people of America, not just Washington, Jefferson, Adams, etc.....
Highly Recommended!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on January 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
... and nowhere is that truer than in the accepted, standardized history of the American Revolution, with its paper trail of historiography backwards though the generations of the Adams Family to colonial Boston and ultimately to the Harvard Yard. It's a history of leaders, written by the heirs of those leaders, suited to the agenda of leadership. As such, it's inevitably a conservative historical discourse, in which the question has been asked again and again whether the "revolution" was in any sense really revolutionary. Since the most literate leaders, and heirs of leaders, were Boston merchants and their attorneys, the proximate causes of colonial dissatisfaction have always been described as taxation and mercantile policies that put colonial ports at disadvantage. Events in Massachusetts and Philadelphia dominate the basic textbook accounts of the War of Independence. Ever since Longfellow, the 'shot heard round the world' at Concord has been the official starting point of the American Revolution.

However, John Adams himself knew better. Somewhere, in his correspondence with Thomas Jefferson if my memory is correct, Adams ruminates to the effect that the "revolution" had already been accomplished in the hearts and minds of the citizenry before the gunfire at Lexington and Concord, even perhaps before the first 'Continental' Congress sessions in Philadelphia. Ray Raphael's book "The First American Revolution" is an exploration of that perception based on events in Massachusetts OUTSIDE Boston, when nearly the whole population of common farmers rose up to obstruct the implementation of the "Massachusetts Government Act", the most explicit effort by the British Parliament to assert overseas authority and discipline the upstart notions of 'home rule.
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More About the Author

Ray Raphael is a Senior Research Fellow at Humboldt State University, California. His seventeen books include Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past, A People's History of the American Revolution, Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive, and most recently Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right.