Heroes and Villains 
Heroes and Villains
by Yale / Joanne B. Freeman
Video Lecture 14 of 25
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Views: 1,645
Date Added: June 12, 2011

Lecture Description

In this lecture, Professor Freeman discusses Benedict Arnold as a case study of the ways in which ideas about regionalism, social rank, and gender--and the realities of the Continental Congress and the Continental Army--played out in this period. Like many Americans during this period, Benedict Arnold thought that he could improve his social rank and reputation in the military, but he was unable to advance due to the Continental Congress's policy on military promotions. Frustrated and facing mounting personal debts, he decided to aid the British in exchange for a reward. Arnold and his wife Peggy developed a plan for Arnold to smuggle American military plans to the British with the help of a young British soldier named John André. However, André was captured while smuggling Arnold's papers and the plot quickly unraveled. In the end, Arnold fled; his wife played upon conventional stereotypes of women to avoid punishment; and André was executed but idealized in the process.

Reading assignment:
Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, chapters 6-12
Bailyn, Faces of Revolution, chapters 3 and 5
Cray, "Major John Andre and the Three Captors"

Course Index

Course Description

The American Revolution entailed some remarkable transformations--converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause--but it was far more complex and enduring then the fighting of a war. As John Adams put it, "The Revolution was in the Minds of the people... before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington"--and it continued long past America's victory at Yorktown. This course will examine the Revolution from this broad perspective, tracing the participants' shifting sense of themselves as British subjects, colonial settlers, revolutionaries, and Americans.

Course Structure:
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.

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