Symposium Author Highlight: Dr. Lindsay Chervinksy

Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a Professorial Lecturer at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. She received her B.A. with honors in history and political science from George Washington University, her masters and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, and her postdoctoral fellowship from Southern Methodist University. Previously Dr. Chervinsky worked as a historian at the White House Historical Association. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Bulwark, Time Magazine, USA Today, CNN, NBC Think, and the Washington Post. Dr.Chervinsky is the author of the award-winning book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institutionrecently out in paperback, and the forthcoming book An Honest Man: The Inimitable Presidency of John Adams.

What first attracted you to the study of early American history? What keeps you involved in the study of this history? Do you find these things are the same or different?  

I’ve always been fascinated by trying to envision how people lived during other time periods. So many things are the same — they loved, grieved, nursed ambitions, fought, played, and worked — but so much was also radically different. What did it smell like? What was it like to live without electricity, running, water, or modern medicine? That juxtaposition continues to drive me. The early American period captured my attention for much of the same reason. It feels so distant and different, yet we can see so many parallels and origins that begin at this time. So much of our culture, politics, and government began in the Revolution and is still with us today.

Why do you think it is important for us to study the Revolutionary Era?  

There is much about our nation that is new and has evolved over time, but so much of our identity and how we operate can be traced back to the Revolutionary Period, whether it’s our government institutions, our national myths, our culture, or the divisions that still plague us. We cannot understand our current moment without understanding where we started.

What do you think was the most significant foreign impact on the American Revolution? 

I think the obvious answer is France’s decision to ally itself with the colonies. The money, arms, supplies, and naval support were integral to the final American victory. However, I’d add one layer that is less discussed and that’s the longstanding animosity between France and England. The history of war between these two nations forced Great Britain to think about the continental and global implications of the war. Once France entered the conflict, the war was no longer confined to North America, but extended to Europe, India, Asia, and the Caribbean. By forcing Britain to divide its attention and resources, France weakened Britain’s grasp on the colonies and fed on its biggest fears, including a French invasion of England. That fear cannot be overlooked.

What are some of the important lessons of the American Revolution do you think are still relevant today?

The American Revolution offers so many important lessons, but here are the two most relevant takeaways.

First, the Revolution offers a really important military history lesson that apparently has to be learned by many nations again and again: it is nearly impossible to subdue a foreign nation by invasion unless you are willing to kill every last man, woman, and child. During the Revolution, George Washington knew that as long as the Continental Army survived, so too would the cause for independence. He didn’t need to win a decisive battle. He just needed to outlast the British army that was thousands of miles from home and dependent on a long, fragile supply chain. The longer the war dragged on, the more expensive the war would become for the British, the more unpopular it would be back at home, and the harder it would be for the British army to wage a huge offensive campaign. Additionally, as British forces antagonized Americans, it became much more difficult for them to acquire supplies locally or maintain emotional support for their efforts. Finally, Washington learned that an insurgency campaign required huge numbers to crush. It would have required hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of British troops to subdue the entire North American continent. The United States learned this same lesson the hard way during the Vietnam War, as did the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. And now Russia is learning it again in Ukraine. While history never repeats itself, it rhymes. Especially military history.

Second, the Revolution teaches us a very important lesson for our nation at home. The war required the colonies to work together. No one colony could take on the mighty British Empire alone. The only way to win was to coordinate actions, pool resources, communicate, and work together. While each colony had its own economic, cultural, and political traditions, they had more in common than they did differences. We were better together then and we are better together now, despite all of our nasty divisions at the moment. Even if we wanted to break up into multiple nations, there would be no way to do so. So we might as well try and make the best of it.

What was it about the American Revolution that elicited such global interest? 

In 1776, the world was dominated by empires run by monarchies. From our perch in 2022, we see that colonies have waged successful revolutions and claimed their independence across the globe, but that reality was not a foregone conclusion. Indeed, the idea that colonies could throw off the shackles of monarchy and form a new nation was a radical, and sometimes terrifying, one. Kings and queens across the globe watched with mixed emotions, both hoping that the mighty British empire would be brought down a notch, but also fearing that the revolution would spread to their borders and challenge their rule. They were correct that the revolution would have global implications–for politics, for the economy, for the balance of powers, and for the spread of ideas that would indeed forge the age of revolutions.

2022 Revolutionary War Symposium: The World Turned Upside Down: The Impact on a Global Scale – Registration now open!

The link to register for the Third annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium on September 24, 2022 is now live! To register for this year’s symposium visit: https://shop.alexandriava.gov/EventPurchase.aspx

The Lyceum in historic Alexandria, VA

Emerging Revolutionary War is excited to continue our partnership with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and The Lyceum of Alexandria, VA to bring to you a day-long Symposium focusing on the American Revolution. The theme for 2022 is “The World Turned Upside: The American Revolution’s Impact on a Global Scale.” The American Revolution created waves across the world with its lasting impacts felt even today. This symposium will study the effects of this revolution that transformed governments and the governed across the globe.

King Louis XVI

Our speakers and topics include:

Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky: “Peace and Inviolable Faith with All Nations”: John Adams, Independence, and the Quest for Neutrality.

Dr. Norman Desmarais: “Reevaluating Our French Allies”

Kate Gruber: “A Retrospective Revolution: England’s Long 17th Century and the Coming of Revolution in Virginia”

Scott Stroh: “George Mason and the Global Impact of the Virginia Declaration of Rights”

Eric Sterner: “Britain, Russia, and the American War”

We will be highlighting each speaker and their topics in the coming weeks. Registration fee is only $60 per person and $50 for Office of Historic Alexandria members and students. If you feel more comfortable attending virtually, the fee is $30. Again, to register visit: https://shop.alexandriava.gov/EventPurchase.aspx

“Rev War Revelry” Discusses George Washington and John Adams with Tom Hand, Founder of Americana Corner

George Washington and John Adams, arguably, were America’s two most influential Founding Fathers. While General Washington was fighting for our country on the fields of battle, John Adams was fighting for it in the halls of the Continental Congress and overseas in the palaces of Europe.

As our first two Presidents, they guided our young nation through the formative first dozen years of life under the United States Constitution. They wisely and bravely set the example for others to follow.

Join Emerging Revolutionary War this Sunday at 7 p.m. EDT on our Facebook page for this week’s “Rev War Revelry” as we discuss the contributions of George Washington and John Adams to America’s fight for independence. Tom Hand will join ERW to discuss how these two men helped to shape our great nation.

Tom is the creator and publisher of Americana Corner, a site he started in 2020 to celebrate the positive stories, great events, and inspirational leaders who helped create and shape our country. Tom is a West Point graduate who founded Gilman Cheese Corporation after leaving the military.

Tom sold the business and now spends most of his time writing for Americana Corner and helping charities with a focus on early America. Tom serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Battlefield Trust and the National Park Foundation’s National Council.

Please join ERW historians and Tom Hand on September 5 for this lively discussion. We look forward to seeing you.

“Rev War Revelry” A Cigar Chat with John Adams

Join Emerging Revolutionary War historians this Sunday, at 7 p.m. EST on our Facebook page for the next historian happy hour. This week we will be joined by John Adams…no that is not a mistype.

John Adams is the founder and owner of Liberty Cigars, which “was founded to reacquaint men and women with the simple pleasure of respite and leisure. Lasting bonds, whether among one or many, are more easily formed when wrought in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.”

Liberty Cigars

That “convivial atmosphere” will be recreated during the next installment of “Rev War Revelry” as ERW historians will discuss tobacco, cigars, and the founding generation of the United States.

“In the time to come we will share the incredible stories of our great republics’ illustrious history with the hope that through you, it will long endure. Our premium cigars are named for a seminal person, event or entity in history so that we may honor them, as we should, across the ages” according to Adams.

Liberty Cigars is part of the American History Guild, founded over a decade ago to “rekindle and stoke the sacred fire of liberty.”

We hope you can set aside an hour of your weekend to join us in “the simple pleasure of respite and leisure” with John Adams. If weather permits, there may be another twist to the “Revelry” on Sunday evening.

“Rev War Roundtable with ERW” All Things Independence Day

As this posting goes live today, July 2, there is a link to the American Revolutionary War era. This was the day that John Adams, future president of the United States, believed would be the date Americans would celebrate as their independence day.

Yet, the day reserved for that celebration would fall two days later, on July 4, the date that John Hancock affixed his signature as president of the Continental Congress.

However, join Emerging Revolutionary War historians and three guest historians this Sunday, July 5, at 7 pm EST, on our Facebook page, as another date to talk “All Things Independence Day” including John Adams and Independence Hall.

Joining ERW to discuss John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, which will be the volume in the Emerging Revolutionary War Series, is Emerging Civil War co-founder and Stevenson Ridge historian-in-residence, Dr. Chris Mackowski.

Savannah Rose, a National Park Service ranger at Independence National Historical Park and the new layout coordinator for the Emerging Revolutionary War Series. You can see her work with the upcoming A Handsome Flogging, on the engagement at Monmouth Course House, which just shipped from the printer this week.

Rounding out the triumvirate of guest historians will be Dan Welch, who you may remember from his dramatic reading of “A Midnight Ride” the poem about Paul Revere’s Ride. Dan is also a seasonal historian with the National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park.

As you round out your holiday weekend, we hope that you include “Rev War Revelry” as one of the events you attend to commemorate Independence Day weekend. We look forward to toasting you as we enjoy our favorite brews and discuss “All Things Independence.”

Review: American Rebels, How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution

Two of the above three last names are very familiar to even casual observers of American history. John Hancock, whose signature is readily apparent at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, where it was joined by John Adams and Samuel Adams. Yet, that last name in the title, Quincy, may not be as obvious as should be at first glance.

What is remarkable about these last names? Besides, the simple fact that members with those three surnames played a major role in the road to revolution and surprisingly on both sides of the chasm of loyalties? All could trace their roots to a small town in Massachusetts; Braintree.

“The covenant of liberty that they shared would be sharpened by ambition and envy, polished through friendships and love, and fought for in a revolution fomented by these children of Braintree” (pg. 8).

In that town, from its first inhabiting European settlers, the spirit of questioning accepted decrees took root, matured, and blossomed. And until now, the intertwining vines of those family trees had not been put under the microscope of historic observation until the publication this year of American Rebels, How the Hancock, Adams,and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution. Penned by Nina Sankovitch an Illinois native, author of several nonfiction works, and resident of New England, she effortlessly weaves the stories of these families into part biography, part family history, and part United States history. All parts equally important and very well written.

“Even as the fortunes of these children of Braintree diverged, their futures would bring them together again. A shared promise connected them, fostered by the history, the land, and the people of Braintree…” (pg. 8)

One of the highlights in the book is the emergence of the Quincy family into a popular history such as this. One of the unsung heroes of the road to revolution was Josiah Quincy Jr.

“As Reverend Hancock preached, the “solemn covenant….of their Liberty” was not obtained through faith alone but could only be realized through hard work performed by a community together. And this sacred covenant would be protected against any and all usurpers who attempted to take their liberty away.” (pg. 15).

Furthermore, Sankovitch brings to the forefront the role of women in the various families and their impact on the time. The best known is Abigail Adams who is the confidant and intellectual equal of her husband, John. Another is the aunt of John Hancock, Lydia, who constantly watches out for John’s place in society. She is the driving force that will bring to fruition the connection between the Quincy and Hancock families. Or Abigail Quincy, who had married Josiah Quincy, Jr., would never remarry but dedicated the rest of her days to raising their son and preserving his memory and contributions to the cause of America. The anguish of losing her beloved is quite evident:

“I have been told that time would wear out the greatest sorrow, but mine I find is still increasing. When it will have reached its summit, I know not.” (pg. 348).

Highlighted by the quote above, the author brings these historic personas and people to life, capturing the heartache, familial turmoil, ambition, and connections. Just as these families bred revolutionaries, there were sons that stayed loyal to the British crown, including a brother and brother-in-law of Josiah Quincy.

From weaving the families together, to connecting the threads of the evolution of political thought, and showing the personal strains of what the road to revolution looked like, Sankovitch has compiled an easily readable, insightful look into the 18th century world.

Enjoy!

*Book Information*

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (March 2020)

Pages: 416

Review: John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher

John Adams Under FireMost people with an interest in the American Revolutionary War have heard of the Boston Massacre, in which Captain Thomas Preston of the 29th Regiment of Foot, commanding a contingent of British soldiers, fired into a crowd, or a mob depending on one’s point of view, harassing/threatening a guard outside the Customs House.  Both sides in the growing dispute between Britain and its colonies rapidly turned the event, which occurred 250 years ago, to their political ends.  Several books have been written about the massacre and tried to sort fact from propaganda, at least in the context of revolutionary Boston.  In their latest book, John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial, Dan Abrams and David Fisher tackle the trials of Captain Preston and his soldiers that followed. Continue reading “Review: John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher”

ERW Book Review: Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle by Jonathan Horn

George Washington retired from public life at the end of his second presidential term on March 4, 1797. Twenty months and ten days later he died on December 14, 1799. In between Washington was also the first in the United States to be a former president, first to deal with securing his legacy as both a military hero and political figure, and having to see the country he sacrificed so much to create, lurch forward without him having an active part in it.

Until now, these years have been either excluded, glossed over, or an anti-climatic ending to a Washington biography. Until now. Joseph Horn, a former presidential speechwriter and the author of The Man Who Would Not Be Washington lends his talent to a new biography of Washington, examining those last few years in-depth.

The author has a valid point when he argues that, “for too long, the story of Washington’s last years has been squeezed into the margins of manuscripts, if included at all” (pg. 14). Channeling the method of famed Washington biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, Horn writes this biography in the “fog of war” style that affords the reader the opportunity to read the history “through the eyes of those who made it rather than through the hindsight of historians” (pg. 14).

Continue reading “ERW Book Review: Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle by Jonathan Horn”

ERW Weekender: Boston Massacre: 250 Years and 1-Day Later

Crispus Attucks. Every American school child learned that name in a social studies or history class in grade school. On the night of March 5, 1770, Attucks, an African-American was one of the six Bostonians that was killed by British soldiers.

Known in American history as the “Boston Massacre” the tragic event was used as fodder by the Sons of Liberty and pro-revolutionary minded individuals to propel the colonies toward rupture with Great Britain.

Continue reading “ERW Weekender: Boston Massacre: 250 Years and 1-Day Later”

Review: Founding Martyr, The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero by Christian Di Spigna

ERW Book Reviews (1)

Doctor. Major General. President of the Provincial Congress. Author of political tracts. A true patriot. Forgotten.

41mPwaMUWfL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_All these words, plus many more, are titles that depict the life of Dr. Joseph Warren. However, the last term is most synonymous with the Massachusetts doctor who fell in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. That last word, forgotten, is exactly what author and historian Christian Di Spigna is hoping to expunge with his new biography, Founding Martyr. 

Di Spigna, an early American history expert and Colonial Williamsburg volunteer, focuses his account of Dr. Warren on not the events immediately surrounding his death at Bunker Hill and subsequent martyrdom but “to fill in the more obscure parts of Warren’s life” which will lead to understanding more of the “key period in the formation of his character, his special networks, and ultimately his medical and political careers” (pg. 7). Continue reading “Review: Founding Martyr, The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero by Christian Di Spigna”