Online Class: The American Revolution Beyond the British Empire (23103)

Four Fridays: October 6, 13, 20, 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET Online

$140.00 Per Person (10% off for members)

Lecture with Q+A.  Will be recorded for viewing afterwards.

This four-part course investigates the geopolitical forces that shaped the American Revolution and the international consequences of the US break with Britain. It asks how the familiar story of the American Revolution—its causes, course, and consequences—changes when we think about the American Revolution as part and parcel of a titanic struggle among European empires and peoples for control of a vast, resource-rich new world?

Each talk tackles a different group of actors—Hessians, Prussians, Frenchmen, Spaniards—and situates their experiences at the center of dramatic narratives about the loss of the British Empire’s thirteen golden geese and the birth of the United States.

Class Overview:

Four Fridays: October 6, 13, 20, 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET Online

1. The Hessians are Coming: German Soldiers and the American Revolution

The British government dispatched 20,000 German troops to help the redcoats to put down the American Revolution. The colonists believed these mercenaries were blood-thirsty butchers coming to kill them and the Hessians’ presence spurred many Americans into the patriot ranks to defend their homeland from these foreign invaders. But gradually ordinary Americans’ perception of the Hessians changed. After nearly a thousand Hessian troops were captured at Trenton, their image slowly evolved from thugs capable of “ungovernable brutality,” into objects of pity, and, then, finally, into new neighbors and friends.

2. Baron von Steuben and the Valley Forge Winter

The hard winter of 1777, when the Continental Army was camped at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, was a turning point in the American Revolution, the moment when new drills and regimental regulations finally turned a ragtag collection of ill-supplied and often embittered enlistees into a more disciplined and professional fighting force capable of winning a war. This talk tells this important story from the perspective of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, the Prussian immigrant with the unusual home life whom Washington tasked with achieving that critical transformation.

3. The French Alliance and the Road to Yorktown

The Siege of Yorktown in October 1781 was a decisive win for George Washington’s Continental Army. Yet it was also a triumph for the unlikely wartime alliance forged between patriot revolutionaries and the French King Louis XVI. This talk explores the inside story of this essential alliance as it evolved from small-scale privateering and gun-running into a military partnership that achieved a stunning joint victory at the Yorktown, the climactic battle of the American Revolution.

4. Guns, Ships and Cows: The Spanish in the American Revolution

Between 1779 and 1782, Spanish rangers from Texas herded 10,000 cows over 500 miles to Louisiana to help feed Spanish soldiers fighting the British in the American Revolutionary War. Spain had joined the war on the patriots’ side in 1779 and would spend the next four years contributing a deluge of fresh soldiers, sailors, ships, and cows to the war effort. This talk explores this hidden history of Spain’s participation in the American Revolution.

There are no required readings, but some recommended titles include:

- Friederike Baer, Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War (2022)

- Ken Miller, Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence (2018)

- Steven Elliott, Surviving the Winters: Housing George Washington's Army and the American Revolution (2021)

- Paul D. Lockhart, The Drillmaster of Valley Forge. The Baron De Steuben and the Making of the American Army (2008)

- Larrie D. Ferreiro, Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain who Saved It (2016)

- Kathleen DuVal, Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (2015)

- Matthew Lockwood, To Begin the World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe (2019)

Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the recent book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home which is shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award and the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Center for History and Culture and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.

SKU: 9787000012400
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