2022 Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Eric Sterner

We are happy to welcome Eric Sterner to our Third Annual Symposium on the American Revolution, co-hosted with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, The Lyceum and Emerging Revolutionary War. This year’s theme is “The World Turned Upside: The American Revolution’s Impact on a Global Scale. We asked Eric to answer a few questions about their talk and their passion for history.

Eric Sterner is a writer focusing on American history, particularly the Revolutionary War and Civil War.  He writes frequently for the Journal of the American Revolution (http://allthingsliberty.com)  and blogs regularly at the Emerging Revolutionary War Era (http://emergingrevolutionarywar.org) in addition to contributing to other publications over the years.  Westholme Publishing released his book: Anatomy of a Massacre: The Destruction of Gnadenhutten, 1782 in 2020.  He is currently working on a micro history of the Crawford Campaign (1782) and a survey of George Rogers Clark’s Illinois Campaign (1778-1779).

In his prior life, Eric worked in the fields of national security and aerospace, holding senior staff positions for two different Congressional committees and serving at the Department of Defense and NASA.  In the private sector, he worked in the fields of national security policy analysis and telecommunications and then held fellowships at the George C. Marshall Institute and the American Foreign Policy Council.  At both places, his work focused on national security, cyber-power, and space policy and appeared in the academic, trade, and popular media.  He also taught graduate courses in cyber power at Missouri State University, Georgetown, and George Washington University.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Soviet and International Studies and

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 was born in the Land of Lincoln, but as a kid, we often visited our grandparents outside Philadelphia, touring the local sites.  My great-grandfather sometimes took us on walks through Valley Forge and the memories stuck.  History became a hobby after that, but stories about real people and events always held more fascination than fiction.  So, when the opportunity came later in life to pursue that interest with intensity, it was only natural to take it.  

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

We still wrestle with many of the same questions as the founding generation: what conditions warrant rebellion, how to prevent the abuse of power, how to secure individual liberty, how to determine and enact the majority’s will, etc.  Despite their limitations, that generation’s answers to those questions are still relevant and illuminating.  

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

France’s declaration of war and alliance with the United States, followed by Spain’s declaration of War on Great Britain, transformed the Revolution into a global struggle.  The stakes grew exponentially from an imperial and philosophical perspective and Britain immediately had to change its strategy.  

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

Warfare always exacerbates a tendency towards extremism, dehumanization, and excess, often reducing people to the most base instincts.  Somehow, the Revolutionary War generation managed to overcome—in the main—the disastrous effects of these tendencies.  While they failed to adhere to their ideals in many ways, principally by in leaving the institution of slavery in tact, the the fact that they managed to bridge differences, compromise, and create a republic in the aftermath of a war with so many facets is remarkable.  Understanding how they did that and what it might require of us would serve the United States well 250 years later.

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

It is easy to focus on the effects of a colonial rebellion on European states with colonies all over the world.  Clearly, a successful rebellion had implications for those colonies.  But, Enlightenment ideas also popular in Europe ranged from the rationalization and efficiency of government institutions to more well-known and celebrated concepts of human individuality and the sources of sovereign authority.  In many ways, the American Revolutionary Era was the first real-world test of those ideas.  Thus, whether one opposed the Revolution for imperial reasons or supported it for philosophical ones, it could not help but fascinate the world.  

Join us for our Third annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium on September 24, 2022. 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.

Registration fee is now only $60 per person and $50 for OHA members and students. If you feel more comfortable attending virtually, the fee is $30. To register visit: https://shop.alexandriava.gov/EventPurchase.aspx

2022 Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Kate Egner Gruber

We are happy to welcome Kate Egner Gruber to our Third Annual Symposium on the American Revolution, co-hosted with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, The Lyceum and Emerging Revolutionary War. This year’s theme is “The World Turned Upside: The American Revolution’s Impact on a Global Scale. We asked Kate to answer a few questions about their talk and their passion for history.

Kate Egner Gruber is the acting director of curatorial services for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, where she works with a team to grow the collection and broaden the interpretation of early American history at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Kate is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation program, where she focused on archaeology and material culture, and holds her masters degree in early American history from the College of William and Mary.

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 never know how to answer this question. The past has always been a presence in my life—whether I was digging up holes in my mom’s backyard looking for buried treasure (sorry, Mom), enthralled with the stories behind the old things in my grandmother’s upstairs room, or lost in my imagination about the landscape I called home.

I like to say that history doesn’t change—but our relationship to it does. This is what keeps me involved in the study of history of today. There’s always something new to learn, new perspectives to consider, new lenses through which to view the past. This is what keeps me motivated and eager to keep diving in.

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

What we learn about the past helps us better understand our present and create a more perfect union for the future.

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

As someone who studies both 17th and 18th century history, my perspective on this question is flipped—I think the most significant impact on the American Revolution was the colonies’ shared 17th history in the growing English and (later) British empire.

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

From England’s Glorious Revolution to America’s Glorious Cause, we’re still negotiating our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—or in the words of John Locke, life, liberty, and property!

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

Some of the founders saw their American Revolution through the lens of the English Civil Wars and Glorious Revolution, all of which had global consequences. The American Revolution isn’t just American history—it’s world history! 

Join us for our Third annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium on September 24, 2022. 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.

Registration fee is now only $60 per person and $50 for OHA members and students. If you feel more comfortable attending virtually, the fee is $30. To register visit: https://shop.alexandriava.gov/EventPurchase.aspx

Catherine the Great Takes Notice of the American Revolution

Catherine the Great By Ivan Argunov (Wikimedia Commons)

Catherine II, aka Catherine the Great, was one of the most dynamic and substantive monarchs of the eighteenth century.  A wealth of contradictions characterized her reign.   A reformer who corresponded regularly with the likes of Voltaire and Diderot, she was also a dedicated imperialist who divvyed up Poland in league with her neighbors and waged offensive wars to the south while colonizing as much of Siberia and Central Asia as she could.  She seized power in a de facto coup, watched her rivals conveniently die, and embraced a Russian tradition of banishing unreliable or undesirable subjects, defined as those did not serve her interests, to Siberia.  At the same time, she explicitly located the sovereignty of the nation among its people, sought to expand the number and classes of subjects with a role in administrative decision-making, and sincerely desired be seen as a what might be called a “democratic autocrat.”[1]  So, one might expect Catherine’s Russia to have a mixed view of the American Revolution.  As always, she was sure not to disappoint.

The years prior to Lexington and Concord were exhausting for Russia.  In 1772, it completed the first partition of Poland in cooperation with Prussia and Austria.   In 1774, it finally brought a six-year war with the Ottoman Empire to a successful resolution in the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji, which expanded Russian territory in the south, giving it greater access to the Black Sea.[2]  Throughout the period, Catherine dealt with a number of internal rebellions and uprisings built around phony claimants to her throne.   By far the most dangerous was a Cossack uprising led by Emil Pugachev, who claimed to be Catherine’s deposed husband Peter III.  He was caught at the end of 1774 and executed in 1775.  When Britain’s North American colonies rebelled, it rated notice, but little attention in the Russian capital, St. Petersburg.  Before too long Britain came calling, requesting 20,000 troops to suppress the rebellion.   Catherine declined, but wrote a correspondent that she expected America to become independent in her lifetime.[3]  Then her government turned toward its latest round of internal reform meant to improve the administration of its vast and growing territory.  That might have been the end of it, but European politics intervened.

Continue reading “Catherine the Great Takes Notice of the American Revolution”

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

Review: European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789–1802 (Campaigns and Commanders Series) Edited by Frederick C. Schneid

ERW Book Reviews (1)

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Bill Backus

The American Revolution ultimately set in motion a chain of events that transformed not only society in the Americas but also back in the Old World.  Six years after the United States gained independence, revolution broke out across France.  While Americans focused on building a new nation, across the Atlantic the French Revolution sparked a series of wars subsequently known as the French Revolutionary Wars.  Eventually after many years of combat and political chaos, a young army officer named Napoleon Bonaparte emerged as the new Emperor of France.  Led by the Emperor the French army and nation embarked on a series of new wars that spread from Spain to Russia.  From the beginning of the French Revolution to the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Europe was at war for nearly 26 years, or nearly the entire lives of people born during the American Revolutionary period.

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European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789–1802 (Campaigns and Commanders Series) by Frederick C. Schneid

While Napoleon’s French Empire is widely known on both sides of the Atlantic, the wars that allowed Napoleon’s ascent to power are less prominent.  Concerned that revolution could spread to the rest of continental Europe, Revolutionary France found itself engaged fighting the European status co intent on restoring the Bourbon monarchy in France.  Over the course of years war and peace ebbed and flowed in Europe, with war sometimes sparked by the French in hopes of unifying a splintered public. In “European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789-1802”, historian Frederick Schneid has organized a study exploring the role of some of the prominent European armies in this period.  Collaborating with noted scholars in their respective fields, the essays explore the armies of the nation-states of France, Prussia, Austria, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and the Ottoman Empire, along side the various German principalities and the armies of the Italian states. Continue reading “Review: European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789–1802 (Campaigns and Commanders Series) Edited by Frederick C. Schneid”