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tv   Donald Johnson Occupied America  CSPAN  September 10, 2021 1:12pm-2:15pm EDT

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about the substance of the science but also how poorly it had been vindicated to even the literate public. >> wants the rest of this program book use the search box at the top of the page to look for the title of his book unsettled. >> we are delighted to have you with us, welcome to booktalktuesday. my name is jim and rusty at the washington library . the new year to you all, glad to see you back in this new year and delighted that you joined and decided to spend your evening with us . tonight i'm excited because were going to have an opportunity to explore the challenges, the stresses, the opportunities early americans face while living under british military role in the american revolution. before we get to that and our distinguished guests, just a programming note. i want to encourage you all to join us january 27 so next
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week we will have a special symposium entitled leadership for a more perfect union. this is a symposium, it's a one-day symposium done in partnership with the brookings institute and were talking about some of the serious issues facing this country and some solutions for the way forward. we will be joined by some esteemed figures from government, from philanthropy and from business including former secretary of state colin powell, larry hogan and current associate justice of the supreme court ona soda mayor so please go to mount check us out there whereyou can register for this free event . i encourage you to join us and we look forward to seeing you there. i also want to encourage you to help support mount vernon and other public history
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sites over this difficult time. we're delighted to bring programming like this to you free every so often but that does come with a cost if you are able and you have some means to do so we appreciate you throwing a few clams our way right now and you can find a way to do that by going to mount and clicking the donate button. all right, let's talk about tonight's main topic. in 1815 as many of you might know, john adams wrote to thomas jefferson and argued that the revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people in the 15 years before a drop of blood was still at lexington and concorde and he also argued the war for independence and revolution were two different things. but were they really? that's one of the things we will explore tonight and many other questions as well. our guest is doctor donald f johnson, an assistant professor at north dakota state university and a former washington library research fellow and the author of a brand-new book , occupied america, british military rule and the experience of revolution published in 2020 by university of pennsylvania press. if you'd like to purchase a
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copy of that we will drop a link in the comments at this time. it is my distinct privilege to welcome doctor johnson to the screen. hello sir. >> you for having me. >> it's agreat honor, thank you for joining us . am i correct in assuming you are coming to us from now on you this evening? >> i am what's the temperature there right now. >> this morning when i drove towork it was about five degrees . so a little nifty. >> you had aheated garage as i understand . >> yes. >> don, thanks and i'm really excited to talk with youabout this book . i'm fascinated by your findings and your discussion of the experience that people faced during the occupation during the revolutionary war. i want to start with a big picture question though and a lot of our colleagues in this historical profession have been writing about american
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loyalists, writing about the ordinary americans during the revolution lookingat the plight of women , slaves escaping british lines and pursuing freedom. what did you think was missing from the conversation ? >> i think specifically from the question of loyalists and patriots, what's missing is kind of the people who wouldn't have identified as either or who could have identified as both at various points throughout the war. there's this whole category of people calling different things like neutrals or erin sullivan's recent bookcalled them the disaffected .these people who certain points allied with the ground and at certain points sided with the revolutionaries. at certain points sided with neither. and i felt like those kinds of people first of all works well serve in this kind of categorization that we have to patriots on one side,
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loyalists on the other. and that it was a much more kind of complicated stories, that there had to be room for change over time, for people's loyalties to be much more complicated, much more inflected by their day-to-day existence . and in terms of the everyday experiences of women, of enslaved people, of native americans, there has been a ton of great history on that. written in the last decade or so. but i felt that it takes the exceptional. it takes these kind of disenfranchised kind of groups but it doesn't integrate their stories into a more coherent narrative. with what kind of everyone else is doing. so i was trying to get at ordinary people of different
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races, genders, backgrounds and get at kind of how the ordinary experience of revolution sheet political allegiance . >> i'm curious how our early ancestors being our predecessors in the historical profession shaped this narrative early on. because you said we've always been accustomed to thinking of two categories,patriots and loyalists . these gray areas get lost in between but early on even after the aftermath people started writing histories of the war and made those determinationsto shape the story we tell up until recently . >> two of the earliest historians of the war were involved in military occupation themselves. warren and david ramsey. they knew well ramsey writes the history of the revolution of southcarolina in 1785 ,
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warren publishes her multi-volume determination of the american revolution, the first decade of the 19th century. ramsey himself was a prisoner of war and occupied charleston. warren was witness to a lot of the trials and tribulations of occupied boston and newport. they would have welcomed their own personal experience the nuances of allegiance during this period but it was in their interests as kind of the ruling elite of the new republic after the war not to cast the struggle itself like that. it's kind of like that adams quote that you opened with. adams writes that something i'm going to butcher here. that the revolution was complete before the first shot was fired. that everyone had turned
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against the british well before the war and that the war was the aftereffect of thiskind of changing people's minds . and people like ramsey and warren, it was in their interest to create this narrative of a patriotic kind of revolutionary country to which people can claim. and to which people whose own experiences didn't necessarily fit that could then claim after the war and say i was always a patriot or i was always kind of on this side. and it's interesting that in reading their histories one of the things i found and going back through with an eye towards how their defining loyalty and political allegiance is actually how very few loyalists they actually may not right. many times they, the people that they name are either notorious loyalists , people like joseph galloway or the allen brothers ofphiladelphia . have already fled the united states.
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or else there kind of this incoherent group of kind of the loyalists. that never kind of with an actual definition. and how far they bend over backwards to kind of give people who strayed at certain points from what they see as kind of this patriot past. >> is there a sense they're doing that because after the war there is an attempt at reconciliation in both places, well all cross in the 13 colonies. >> absolutely. it's one of the things that even some of the kind of higher profile founding fathers are with. john jay, alexander hamilton. a lot of these figures in new york are making the argument that you can't really alienate some of these people who sided with the crown early on in the war because they are contributing a good deal to society.
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they have money, they have expertise . they have the tools that people need to build a nation. and so if you're going to have kind of district, but if you did anything to support the ground during the war you cannot be part of the american policy then you're going to have to conclude one historian estimated half 1 million people either serve in arms for the crown, served in support of the crown or to an action that could be construed as loyalists. you're going to exclude that many people, that's a quarter of the population at least. >> it could get awful fast. i want to take this opportunity to remind the audience you'll have a chance to ask questions of doctor johnson so please post your questions and comments on facebook, twitter or youtube wherever you're watching. just a second ago you actually mentioned boston, newport, charleston.
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your book does look at ports exclusively, why port cities, what do we get from these urban spaces that were not going to get from that into lands or the backcountry. >> by the urban spaces for two reasons. first, records are more likely to survive across these places. and in greater concentration than in kind of the hinterlands. so this was where the sources that spoke to the experience of military occupation really existed and survived. and second, it's these are places where occupation was the most intense and had the highest state. in terms of intensity, the british occupied elsewhere in america andrural america. pretty much the entire state of georgia, the entire state of south carolina at various points . most of new jersey, large
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parts of new york and pennsylvania. but in the countryside in places that were ostensibly controlled or occupied by the british, ordinary people might go months or weeks without even seeing a single british soldier. whereas in cities where people are kind of living cheek by jowl, you're interacting with the occupied force every day and the things move much morequickly and with a greater intensity . and then in terms of the states, the cities were crucial to kind of the plan on both sides. for the british, the strategy was kind of to take the cities and use them as bases to conciliate loyalty from the surrounding countryside. and if there was anywhere that would be welcoming of the british army, it was likely to be these port cities which were much more asthma on. much more kind of transient in their population and who
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had largely depended on trade with the rest of the british empire for their livelihoods before the revolution and in many places for example, newport rhode island welcomed the british army with kind of a council of their higher citizens reading a proclamation ofgrievances for henry clinton . so and a lot of these places there were kind of evil who welcomed the chance to get back to business when the british arrived. but over the course of the war they kind of realized that the cost of having soldiers quarter there and the experience of occupation made them realize that the empire wasn't kind of a place to go back to. >> i want to come back to the british occupation in a second but one of the things that struck me about your
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book and maybe think about things in different ways is the extent to which the revolutionary regime that comes into being in the immediate months of the war were themselves a kind of occupying force . what, what do these rebel governments look like and how do the people respond to them when this traumatic change occurs in a75 to 76 ? >> a lot of people didn't know what to make of them. there were these groups of citizens that formed themselves into committees, councils, militias. kind of resistance organizations and starting around april 1775 after the battles of huntington and concorde a started kind of using the apparatuses of power and the six cities that i'm looking at here in the book were each capitals of their respective colonies. and in order to obtain kind of legitimacy and the sanction of a proper
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president, revolutionaries almost immediately secured those places, secure the records, secured the apparatus of government. and it took place almost kind of in somewhat of a comical of the my favorite examples happened in savannah georgia where the clerk of the king's counsel in savannah, basically the person in charge of record-keeping at the colony house in savannah gets woken up at six in the morning by one of his neighbors saying hey, the provincial congress, this revolutionary organization, we broke into the courthouse and we want to kiss your office so we can get the records. he says i'm not going to give you the keys though they come back and threaten his wife and say basically we're going to rough you up if you don't
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let us in and give us the colonial records.he still says i'm not going to give you the keys to my office and they come back hours later and they say we broke into your office, we can't make heads or tails of the records but when you show us what's what and he says all right, you've already broken in and at least her not going to make amess of it . then they let him organize the records for them and take anything that is private or him and go about his way. but it's this type of soft occupation almost. this seizing of public buildings and records and the auspices ofpower at the beginning of the revolution . >> it really is a hard occupation when the british take new york.
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what does it look like? you'd mentioned a moment ago one of their goals was to conciliate the american colonists back to the crown and intothe kings government. what does that process look like and what's the role of collaborators i guess would be the word in this process ? >> collaborator is a great word. i use it in the sense that historians of the german occupation of france and that almost everybody living under occupation collaborates to some degree or another. but what the british do is pretty much immediately when they land and they retake these cities starting with york and philadelphia and charleston, they start discrediting loyalty oats and they go around and first do this in new york in the fall of 1776. then they get people to sign theseloyalty oats . you guys are ahead of me.
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but they give out these things, basically these slips of paper that are held in duplicate , one of them is in a book that is held at a military headquarters and one of them is given to the person who signs them. that has that kind of renounce any loyalty to revolutionaries, sign over loyalties to the crown . in some cases thomas to defend the crown's interests although they are not usually interested in making people that may have suspect loyalties fight for them. but what they do is make it the loyalty oath as an affirmation of their acceptance of royal rule and it's kind of a as a carrot they hold out the prospect of returning to what they call kind of the kings piece. which is reconnecting to the old british empire. getting back to that kind of access to train routes, getting back access to royal
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courts, the ability to sue and reclaim property and debts. kind of getting back all of these old connections to the british empire. a lot of people especially people living in urban centers this was attractive. these were people who made it, a lot of them made their living based on transatlantic trade and depended upon the british empire for that livelihood. so for a lot of people they kind of signed on thinking they would kind of get there lives that eventually. though it turned out to be very different . >> how successful were the british and i guess the best sense in their life and achieving a kings piece or restoring civil government? maybe we can look at newyork city and savannah which are
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two of the critical places where these experiments are taking place . >> york and savannah are great examples because they are different in the ways that they succeed. in new york the british invasion in the late summer and fall of 1776. they sees long island, manhattan island, that an island but what we now think of as the boroughs of new york city as well as some of the surrounding area but they're never able to penetratedeeper into the country . so there exists this kind of no man's land, this kind of hard border in the queens revolutionarynew york and british occupied new york . and because of this the british are unwilling to kind of restore full civil government to the areas they occupy. instead, there's this kind of mixed military government led by the commanding general of the army, ostensibly william howell and henry clayton.
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and the commandant of the city of new york itself, who are responsible for keeping order on the streets.and they met with a group of civilian former officials. led by andrew elliott, a former customs collector who is given the title of chief of police or chief magistrate of police or superintendent of police pending on which source you read. and he's kind of responsible for this civilian apparatus that keeps order in the streets and reports back to the military with kind of offenders. and in this way they give civilians a stake in the administration and actually provide for example kind of lodging for the poor and people who couldn't afford it . taste on professional loyalty and adherence to the crown.
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they confiscate the estates and houses of known what they would call traders or revolutionaries. and rent those out to loyalists or people who adhere to them coming into the city. they employ a lot of people as street cleaners, as clerks, as rent collectors and so forth. there's this weird civilian administration but it never really has the full force of law. as long as it's only backed by the military, there's this idea that it could end at any time when the military comes out. and especially poignant are the examples of boston, newport and philadelphia which the british army does leave before the war ends which loyalists who
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collaborated with the british for help the british and the kind of faring reallypoorly in . and even to savannah where the british to bring back the royal governor, sir james wright. they're actually able to conquer the entire province of georgia bythe end of 1779, 1780 . and they're able to call the colonial assembly back into session in 1780. this is you know, savannah and later charleston where they attempt to do the same thing though charleston doesn't to see as well . and it's really kind of their best hope. their best hope to kind of restore and show that they're going to be a restored kings piece . and it does work for about a year but again, when the british army marches north of the low country into north carolina towards breakdown, it's kind of goes away.
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you get revolutionary guerrilla forces fighting in the backcountry through the swamps. and kind of these feuds between people of different allegiances breakout . and right, even though he tries his best as governor to facilitate the situation is never able to retain the power that he had previously so even where civil government is kind of technically putting power, while the war is stillraging the military really is the ultimate be all and end all . >> as the british army is trying to take these cities and some successfully holding some of them at least while they're sitting in there and not heading towards yorktown which didn't end well for them. how are the people you spoke
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with earlier hedging their bats, trying to figure out how to survive? how are they as you see in the book reinventing and also ruining themselves in the process ? >> a lot of them are doing ingenious things . there's an innkeeper in new york city who does this, runs this kind of arbitrage scam with continental currency where she keeps open their house to prisoners of war from the continental army. houses them, takes their rent in continental dollars which not a lot of landlords would do in occupied new york and then she asks the military authority for a pass to go outside of the line, crosses the river to new jersey, chooses that continental currency to buy a bunch of food. comes back into new york and sells it at three or four times the price he paid for it in new york, british currency. and pockets the difference.
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so there's a lot of people who are kind of working these kind of angles. these kind of schemes to enrich themselves and in her case she actually breaks her way free of an abusive husband. she's able to throw out of the house and break free from because of this kind of new source of power, this new source of income . further people they are more fundamentally reinventing themselves . one of the people i follow in the book is an enslaved carpenter. and later sailor named boston king. he's born on the plaintiff plantation outside of charleston southcarolina . he's a gannett he's trained as a carpenter. leads to the british lines, the british are offering freedom to the enslaved people of revolutionaries who led behind their lines and were willing to serve in the army. service in a british resident
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and kind of an auxiliary or a kind of a worker. then ends up escaping to new york where he marries another freed slave, works as a carpenter, i hairdresser. mansour eventually, sales on a rowboat. and ends up kind of reinventing himself as a free person andso after the war even with the british , living out the rest of his life in nova scotia in a free black community. then there's tons of people like this . that are totally kind of changing their circumstances through the occupation. that raises a question in my mind about source material and in some ways it's easy to write about the guys like sir henry clinton or folks like that because they kept papers, george washington of course. but these middling income folks, these folks that don't often see you write about or
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people that are tracking across large states, where did you find these individuals? >> through a lot of digging. a lot of it was going to different societies and these spots, going through the papers for years . and seeing what they had. part of the reason for that is again going back to the beginning of our conversation some of these people went to efforts to hide the extent of their activities during the occupation . one of the stories that i found most fascinating was that of mary only who was the owner of a boarding house in newport rhode island. on all he was a diehard loyalists even though her husband only served in the continental artillery. she wrote a series of letters tohim during the battle of rhode island . where he was actually commanding a unit that was attacking newport. and she writes these kind of furious letters saying i hope
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the continental army burns in hell and commander died a horrible death and that when i see you againyou're being marched through the streets as a prisoner of war. but then she finds that . she kind of once newport reverts to revolutionary rules of course she evacuate in october 1775 and takes this kind of bundle of unsent letters, hands them to a good friend of hers and says ids. until long after i'm dead. and actually she continues to operate this boarding house with her husband. well into the 1790s even as a kind of legendary washington connection where george washington apparently stays in this house. when he comes to newport in the 1790s. and the newport historical society as a blanket at a safe washington slept on there.
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they don't find these papers of hers until 1845, 1850 when her grandchildren are going through that they find all my god, grandmawas a loyalist . so a lot of people went to great lengths to hide their activities during that time which may made hunting for their stories that much more challenging and rewarding when they could find. >> that's amazing. it's almost an example of look at grandma's face. it's also kind of an example of how the occupation of the war put stress on individuals and families and we made a joke about it being cold earlier because it's winter and i was outside the other day chopping down some trees and then splitting loss with my mighty acts so i was thinking about that when i was reading your book and you've got a wonderful discussion about the stress that the occupation puts on the natural landscape of the environment and the ways in which people shelters, for
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themselves. can you tell us more about those stresses? >> the army was an extraordinary drain on resources. in these cities. especially when you consider that these places were not set up for large kind of influx of the population. the largest city in colonial america philadelphia hadabout 25,000 people living in during peacetime . that was with kind of trade routesopen from the countryside . and took an incredible amount of wood, food, fuel to actually keep these people alive and the british army comes in with about 35,000 troops . in newport rhode island they come in with 8000. that almost doubles the
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prewar population of about 10,000 living on a and i went . and by the end of the first year of the occupation of rhode island, they cut down every single tree on the island and their beginning to tear down fences and outbuildings and warnings and even to send armed ships to go and raid the connecticut coast for lumber. and even as far away as long island. they computed also with prices for booze and shelter. there was tons of places even from well-off people in new york city thatprices for rents are skyhigh . a lot of that has to do with there was a fire at the beginning of the occupation that burned about a third of phones and cities but this happens pretty much everywhere the british go because there's so many soldiers that need to be
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housed and fed and sheltered that have priority over the local population in a lot of places. and then there's accounts of people going hungry and even kind of freezing to death on the streets. in newport, the winter of 77, 78 was by climate science one of the coldest of the second half of the 18th century and you have accounts of people freezing to death and burning oil and otherthings in order to try to survive . in new york city the price of regular brown bread for ordinary stuff goes up by five times its prewar high. and this was kind of despite british efforts to kind of protect these populations. but yes, there's really dire
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straits for a lot of people living in these towns. restarting commerce even places where the british retake savanna, charleston. are they able to resupply themselves and actually put back into place some kind of marketeconomy ? >> in a sense, yes and number they're able to bring back what we think of as luxuries. so for example there's newport island keeping a roles, they a after the british land starts providing to suppliers in birmingham and sheffield saying send me hardware. send me silverware. send me ceramics, send me all this stuff because there's this desire for british manufactured goods that people haven't been able to get at the outbreak of the imperial crisis.
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a lot of these goods that are selling very cheaply in the city's just because there's a supply don't up in england during the kind of intervening period and there's a lot of demand from american merchants tokind of sell it . if you're in the market for a set of really nice wedgewood queens where, occupied new york might be your place but at the same time they're not really able to connect to the economy, to the local economy. they're not able to reconnect these food supplies, these kind of fuel supplies that kept the city's going onkind of a day-to-day basis . and the british army goes so far as to even try to ship in food from ireland which spoils on the way and never really works but they shipped in, they tried to ship dried grains. they tried to ship coals to
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heat fires and it just never really works. >> that's fascinating and just to our audience out there we will be coming to your questions in a minute so get them in if you haven't already and if you're free for the rest of the evening can you post the questions if they come to mind? a little bit ago you mentioned the fact that the experience of occupation and it eroded whatever trappings of loyalty many colonists felt for george iii and his government . just by virtue of experience and goingthrough his hardships . can you tell us more about thatprocess ? was it all at once that some people decided that enough was enough or was kind of a slow learner by 1783when he comes they decided they were not going to go into exile but stay in the new united states . >> it was much more of a slow learner and i compare it to muscle memory almost . so what a lot of these people
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even if they were, they have this utmost loyalty to the crown. the beginning of the occupation, because of the hardships, because of the strain that the british army puts on these communities they're forced to kind of break the law to turn to illicit means in order to survive. so for example the brindley family of rhode island which has at entries in boston and new york is constantly kind of smuggling food and resources to one another across enemy lines. one brother inrevolutionary newport , one brother in occupied new york, one brother in boston. they're constantly writingto each other and sendingeach other food and other things. money and other things . kind of illicitly , under the nose of the british. the same thing is happening in the south, you see people
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keeping ties to revolutionary friends, neighbors, relatives . not necessarily ideological reasons but practical reasons . that's how they can survive and also kind of ice first. people are in revolutionary held areas keeping ties to occupied british occupied areas in order to save that. so i think by having the kind of constantly undermine these governments, these occupation regimes, it erodes their authority. it erodes the idea that the king can actually, the kings horses i should say, not thinking personally but the forces can actually meet the needs of the population. so while it doesn't necessarily turn people into stalwart revolutionaries, there is than this kind of alienation from loyal
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governments that didn't necessarily exist for the war. >> that makes a lot of sense and before we turn to audience questions i do want to note you do keep teach two classes so thank you for being here with us and i want to is my question by asking you what do you often tell your students is the most important thing they got to know about the occupation or actually even better, what surprised you most about this project when you were researching it ? >> most what surprised me most about the project and the occupation was really kind of the amount of good faith people put into actually making society work under british occupation and the we often kind of think of when the military comes it's this kind of catch all or this dire situation where people are kind of caught in
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it. a lot of people i feel like this category of in between patriot and loyalist, this category of disaffected, these people that go either way is they get a bad rap . early histories and in other histories. and i think it's undeserved. a lot of these people held strong political opinions but they didn't necessarily have the luxury of acting on them. they didn't necessarily, and one of the best sources i found was this book of poems from a woman in new york who was had had a lawrence who was a quaker, daughter of a quicker merchants who her poetry was vehemently pro-revolutionary. she read these romantic couplets of revolutionary heroes and republican virtue and then she goes and marries a british soldier . who ends up living and moving to british canada. and it's that kind of
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disconnect is really fascinating to me. it doesn't mean that she didn't hold the beliefs. she obviously did but again, in her day-to-day life he didn't have the luxury of acting upon them. and i think that shows in a lot of what happenedduring these revolutionary upheavals . >> don, this has been great. thanks for talking with me now let's talk to the audience. we've got a question coming in about the transition of capital cities from places like philly to harrisburg and charleston to columbia and they're asking to what extent is the occupation of the cities allude to the removal of these capitals to other places in these states? >> that's an interesting question. i've never thought of that way. the traditional narrative is that it's kind of this east versus west frontier versus
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the establishment that leads to kind of the movement of capitals from i mean, philly to harrisburg, charleston to columbia. savannah to atlanta, things like that. but occupation may have had something to do with it as well. i'm not sure on the timing of that so i have to punt onthat question to someone who might know better. butthat's really interesting . >> thank you adam, here's your research topic . we've got a question coming in about williamsburg virginia and yorktown and jamestown and cynthia is asking she's curious about the struggles that these cities face to hold off british occupation as long as they could. >>. >> yorktown does get occupied in the end of thewar by michael wallace for about 2 months . and actually north virginia ends up occupied at the beginning of the war and
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basically burns by patriot leaders in order to prevent its use as a base by governor dunmore. but really, they tended to be too small for the british to worry much about. it's one of the reasons that i mentioned this in the book as well that it's not a coincidence that the six 80 that i'm talking about , boston, new york, newport and philadelphia and charleston were the biggest cities in colonial north america and the most important economically. and the most important strategically. williamsburg, yorktown, jamestown just works kind of on that map of kind of an imperial from an imperial standpoint. they did face raids at
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various points in the war and again, yorktown gets occupied by cornwallis's troops. but really only kind of circumstantially, only when cornwallis was seeking an estate bike to new york. and yes, there's again, they're just not as important economically to the transatlantic trade. >> thank you sent the agreement. our next question is looking at with her or not any city is occupied by the british were what you would regard as a failure i guess is boston such an example or what are common subthemes we saw in these various places? >> i think they all fail in the end. because they all get returned to the united states. the british actually when they negotiate for peace, there is a movement the cause of the end even after the battle of yorktown, the british old new york, savannah and charleston and there is actually a directive by the ministry to save new york.
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to keep it as kind of an american gibraltar or a trading outpost to which the british can keep some of their economic clout in north america. and kind of station their navy and have a strategichold out . but really, the populations of all these cities turned against the british by the end of the war. they don't you know, by the end of the war even kind of the people who had been the most excited about british rule at the beginning of the occupation of new york there exhausted. they're tired, they're ready to make peace. the revolutionary government. i mean, even william fitz junior one of the kind of early cantankerous loyalists
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said enough is enough. the population here won't follow you if you try to hold new york as kind of an american gibraltar or a british post in north america. and they ultimately kind of have to give it up because the population turned against them. so i think yes. i think the common theme is that they kind of collapse after british military defeat. >> this question makes me wonder about what lessons the british learned in various cities during the course of occupations and the extent to which they say for example apply lessons that they learned in boston to new york or savannah or charleston or places like that. >> it does evolve over the course of the war. the police system that they create innew york gets replicated in philadelphia, in savannah and charleston . and i believe in newport though the records of newport occupation sank to the bottom
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of the sea when the british evacuated and the ship carrying the town records set. but these police systems eve all. and charleston former attorney general james simpson creates this really elaborate plan for different districts and police and even kind of ideological indoctrination of the population. but again, never really takes hold and largely it's not necessarily the ball of these officials. mostly kind of these military officers who are unwilling to put conciliation in front of military victory. >> one of the things at your disposal is confiscation, both revolutionary regimes and the british authorities
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use this tool. in what ways are they using property confiscation as a carrot and stick and the means to entice people to one side or theother ? >> one of the things especially in the occupied south in south carolina and georgia, the british sees a large number of plantations, a large number of estate vehicles when they invaded georgia andsouth carolina . >> ..
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>> there's a lot of kind of using people's property and people's wealth as a way to kind of entice or punish them alternatively. >> speaking of taking territory, we've got a question coming in here about how far inland the british managed to occupy the country during the war. >> it depends on the region. in most of the places i'm looking at, they didn't go in that much further than the territory of the actual city. in boston, they never really controlled beyond the auspices of the city itself. in philadelphia, as well, they controlled the city and some of
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kind of the -- what we think of kind of as the inner suburbs, but the lines were pretty narrow. in the south, it's a little bit more all encompassle -- all encompassing. they occupied georgia up to augusta. they got pretty far into western georgia. they occupied south carolina as far back as 96 which was a frontier settlement. -- sorry south carolina as far back as 96, and were able to kind of at certain points exercise control over those entire states. so it really varied from place to place. and then there are places that, you know, both sides claimed, a lot of kind of the regions around new york city, you know, for about 100 miles in either
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direction were kind of no man's lands or places where militias either loyal to the king or loyal to the revolutionaries kind of fought one another for control and neither side really had a clear advantage. >> we have a question coming in about disaffection amongst the citizens. i want to build on what you just said because i'm wondering as, you know, the rebel and british armies were contesting the no-man's land, to what extent did that lead to disaffection, or did it lead people to side with one government or the other? >> i think most -- i think there were a certain amount of people who were willing to side with whichever side was stronger, looked more ready to win the war. you know, and i found, you know, correspondences between family members in different places where they say, you know, all
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right maybe next month is the time to jump ship and come over to the revolutionary side or, you know, maybe, you know, in a couple months, if they win this battle, we should switch to the crown. so there's a lot of kind of fence swapping or fence -- side swapping in these areas. >> in terms of disaffection, there's also a lot of that. there's a lot of people who kind of -- are kind of militantly anti-both sides, and, you know, i could draw the comparison to the english civil war. >> uh-huh. >> where there are these groups called kind of club men who would defend their towns against both the loyalists and the parliamentary forces, and you see that more in kind of the back country of the carolinas, in georgia. they are what they call kind of people beyond the mountains,
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these tennesseens and kentuckyians who want to defend themselves and will attack pretty much anyone who comes through that region. i'd say yeah, those are -- there's definite di disaffection there. -- definitely disaffection there. in terms of the question whether it's comparable in occupant cities, yes and no. i try to draw common threads in the book. in each city there's kind of an arc, there's a hopefulness kind of in the beginning when the brit, arrive, at least among -- british arrive, at least among a lot of the population that they will be reconnected to the british empire, that thing wills get more peaceful, that this is kind of the beginning of the end of their travails, and then there's kind of period of deprivation and kind of hardship of military rule and the other thing that occurs is violence. >> yeah. >> you know, a lot of militaries
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and the british army in particular was a very violent society. there's assaults. there's rapes. there's murders. there are duels. you know, there's all kinds of violence in these cities, so i mean, that experience is common to all cities. there are certain things in some cities that set people off and don't others. one of the things the bostonians were constantly complaining about was the british soldiers cursing and not respecting the sabbath on sundays and not letting them go into their churches. one of the things that carolinians are always complaining about how the british are free with enslaved people and allowing blacks to kind of have more liberties than they are used to. there are regional and culture differences like that, but there are a lot of common experiences, yeah.
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>> we won't swear on the program this evening. [laughter] >> we have got one final question here. i want to build on this question a little bit. he is asking about the prominent split between benjamin franklin and his son william who was the last royal governor of new jersey, an example of a split between a loyalist and revolutionary family. i want to build on that by also asking about the long-lasting effects of occupation in the post-war period. what does it mean for people who have been occupied or who have been divided and went into exile? what kind of lasting effects did that occupation have on their lives? >> good question. i mean, i can't think of as many notable splits as the franklins. but there were definitely a lot of families that were divided this way. >> uh-huh. >> you know, the family that i mentioned earlier, you know, about half of them end up in nova scotia and england with the other half remaining in rhode
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island. both sides prospered and continued to kind of correspond. it's just that, you know, one side can't come back, under kind of penalty of, you know, execution. so there's a lot of these splits, but again, the franklins, you know, with benjamin franklin's son the former royal governor of new jersey going into exile whereas franklin himself becoming a prominent citizen. the fears of occupation does hang over a lot of people, but in a certain way, they're able to kind of sweep it under the rug, and they're able to kind of forget it, and there's this -- again kind of going back to the power of conversation, there's kind of a permissiveness in the early republic or a willingness to forget a lot of the complexities, a lot of kind of the nuances of the wartime experience, and one of the examples of that is, you know, someone that a lot of historians
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of the early republic are familiar with, a political economist in the department of the treasury under both the washington and jefferson administrations. and in his younger life, he was a die-hard loyalist. you know, he lived in occupied philadelphia, married the daughter of a prominent loyalist family, basically made his money kind of profiteering off the occupation, painting licenses to sell goods to the british west indies and import stuff from new york to the caribbean and philadelphia. he's one of these people who switches sides at the right time. when he gets word that the british are getting ready to evacuate, he writes to relatives outside of the town. he sneaks outside of philadelphia about a week before the british leave and signs an oath of loyalty to the revolutionary state of pennsylvania. he comes back. he writes his contact in new
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york that he's basically breaking contact with them, and, you know, he writes that he's willing to be the most perfect american if they will accept him, and, you know, he's able to make a career, you know, in politics even, in the early republic. he's elected to the congress of the confederation in the 1780s. serves in the treasury department in the 1790s and 1800s. this comes up every now and again when he's running for office or when he's, you know, in public view, but it is almost treated as kind of a useful indiscretion. his defenders are kind of like you can't blame him for that. he was only 20. you can't blame him for that. it was war. there's this kind of, you know, let's kind of like let bye gones be bye gones. everybody had something like that that they did during the war that they didn't want brought out. so his critics, you know, are never able to kind of get any traction because there's this
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kind of forgive and forget mentality. >> i have to say i saw, you know, i know cox from the early republic contacts. i hadn't read much about his life before in the 1790s. he showed up in your book, and i was like what the heck is he doing there? great concrete examples in the ways you talk about the people reinventing themselves during the war and even after. >> absolutely. another one of these that ended up [inaudible] if you look at his records in philadelphia. you can see portions of his letter books are just ripped out during the occupation. it is on the one hand really frustrating but on the other really interesting to see kind of the way people reshaped their lives. >> very telling. this has been fantastic. thank you very much. speaking of travel, when we're able to travel again, you're back down this way, let's occupy a table at a pub.
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i've really enjoyed our time together. i want to thank you. i want to thank our audience for your terrific questions. thank you very much for tuning in to all of you out there. thanks also to sam snider and jeanette patrick behind the scenes working their magic as usual. don, take care. hope to see you soon. everyone else have a great evening, good night and good luck. >> thank you very much. it's been a pleasure. ♪ ♪ weekends on c-span 2 bring you the best in american history and nonfiction books. this weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. saturday at 9:10 a.m. eastern on american history tv's american artifacts, we will tour the flight 93 national memorial near shanksville, pennsylvania, hearing the story behind the hijacking and passengers who attempted to take control of the plane to thwart terrorists who were heading to washington, d.c. then at 2:00 p.m. eastern, on the presidency, president bush's
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