Date Added: June 12, 2011
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.
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"
- Introduction: Freeman's Top Five Tips for Studying the Revolution
- Being a British Colonist
- Being a British American
- "Ever at Variance and Foolishly Jealous": Intercolonial Relations
- Outraged Colonials: The Stamp Act Crisis
- Resistance or Rebellion? (Or, What the Heck is Happening in Boston?)
- Being a Revolutionary
- The Logic of Resistance
- Who Were the Loyalists?
- Common Sense
- Civil War
- Organizing a War
- Heroes and Villains
- Citizens and Choices: Experiencing the Revolution in New Haven
- The Importance of George Washington
- The Logic of a Campaign (or, How in the World Did We Win?)
- Fighting the Revolution: The Big Picture
- War and Society
- A Union Without Power
- The Road to the Constitutional Convention
- Creating a Constitution
- Creating a Nation
- Being an American: The Legacy of the Revolution
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.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.