The American Revolution is this country’s founding moment. It marks the birth of a nation committed to the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s a staple of school and college curriculums and as a result, most people know something about the American Revolution and about the Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence and led their thirteen colonies into a bold new future as the United States.
But the full story of the American Revolution requires us to look beyond the lives of Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson. This class focuses on all the things you might not have learned in high school or college about this great struggle for independence. It probes unexpected corners of this sprawling, eight-year war and expands its cast of characters substantially to include the typhoid-ridden immigrant corset-maker who wrote the pamphlet that gave colonists the confidence to believe they could beat Britain; the Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a man so that she could serve in Washington’s Army; the enslaved stable hand at Mount Vernon who ran off to join the war and who ended up on the other side of the world; and the widow who became the most important Native American leader during the war. Studying their lives and exploits will reveal the breadth and depth of the sacrifices that the colonists made as they worked to turn a small-scale protest over the price of goods like tea into a fight for freedom.
Richard Bell / University of Maryland
Richard Bell is a Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He has served as the Mellon Fellow in American History at Cambridge University, the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society, a Mayer Fellow at the Huntington Library, as a Research Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition and Resistance at Yale University, and a Resident Fellow at the John W. Kluge at the Library of Congress. He is also a frequent lecturer and debater on the C-SPAN television network. Professor Bell is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards, including the 2017 University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.