John Wayne, Colonel James Smith, and the Black Boys Rebellion

AlleghenyUprisingposterAllegheny Uprising, starring John Wayne and Claire Trevor, is an overlooked Revolutionary War movie.  I first watched the 1939 film as a kid on a local UHF station, but never quite realized how closely it tracked with the memoir of a colonial and Revolutionary War soldier, Colonel James Smith.  So, I decided to take a look.

For a significant portion of the last century, no actor signified “the American Century,” more than John Wayne. But, in the 1930s, he was a former-stuntman-turned-B-grade-actor churning out movies as a contract player for RKO Pictures.  Born in Iowa as Marion Morrison, Wayne’s family made its way to California during World War I and he eventually attended the University of Southern California as a pre-law student.  When an injury sidelined his football career, he did odd jobs in Hollywood for a friend-of-a-friend, eventually taking on bit parts and extra work before getting his first starring break in The Big Trail, a 1930 epic that flopped horrendously.  Morrison needed a more impressive name for the movie—Marion Morrison apparently not being heroic enough for the character he would portray. So, Morrison, still in his 20s, suggested Anthony Wayne after the Revolutionary War general himself.  The studio passed on “Anthony,” but settled on John Wayne.  Newly named, Morrison went back to work, settling for the lead in a bunch of forgettable westerns.

Continue reading “John Wayne, Colonel James Smith, and the Black Boys Rebellion”

“You are a fine fellow”: The April 24, 1777 Attack on Boonesborough

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes historian Daniel T. Davis. 

1777.

Boone
An elder Daniel Boone (courtesy of the LoC)

The conflict ignited at Lexington and Concord finally reached beyond the Allegheny Mountains as the British stepped up their raids on American settlements in Kentucky. With so many troops dedicated to the colonies, Henry Hamilton, the Lieutenant Governor at Detroit, relied on Native tribes allied with the Crown to carry on the war effort. In March, Shawnees began to harass Harrodsburg, Logan’s Station and Boonesborough. Founded as part of the Col. Richard Henderson’s proprietary colony of Transylvania along the banks of the Kentucky River, Boonesborough derived its name from one of the most famous long hunters of the day and resident, Daniel Boone. Continue reading ““You are a fine fellow”: The April 24, 1777 Attack on Boonesborough”