In Pursuit of Liberty: Coming of Age in the American Revolution

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9780275993061: In Pursuit of Liberty: Coming of Age in the American Revolution
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The voices of the children and teenagers who witnessed the events that transformed the colonies to an independent nation have seldom been heard in historical accounts of the American Revolution. This book tells the story of the forgotten youngsters who engaged in the boycott of British goods and the battles that led up to the Declaration of Independence; the story of their courageous exploits in eight years of warfare on land and sea, and the story of the social forces that shaped and transformed their post-war lives. The Revolution challenged the notions of patriarchal authority. It introduced serious risks and disruptions in the lives of the young, but it also gave them an unprecedented degree of autonomy and a sense of responsibility that allowed them to seize the opportunities that they gained with their independence. The book is based on the eye-witness accounts of one hundred children and teenagers who were between the ages of five and sixteen when they first observed the events recorded in their diaries, journals, letters, or memoirs. One-third of the accounts are from girls, most of whom lived in cities; two-thirds are from boys, most of whom lived rural areas. They include reports from black as well as white boy soldiers, from teenagers imprisoned on land and on prison ships, from slave children and youngsters held hostage by Indians, and from children of loyalists and pacifists who opposed the war with Britain for political or religious reasons. Also included are the viewpoints of Hessian teenagers who fought in the American Revolutionary War for the British. The book follows the chronology of the American Revolution across two decades from 1770, when the boycott of British goods throughout the American colonies gained momentum, to 1789, when George Washington was sworn in as the first president of a new and independent nation. It sets the experiences of the children and teenagers who lived and wrote in that time in a historical context. It focuses on the major milestones of the American Revolution, and the contribution of young people to its progress and ultimate success.

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"Werner has written a history of children's participation in the American Revolution from the Boston Massacre and Tea Party in the 1770s through its military phase, 1775-81, ending with the signing of the Peace of Paris in 1783. The author uses children's eyewitness accounts--letters, diaries, and memoirs--drawn from printed published sources as well as US and German archives. . . . General readers/public libraries." - Choice

"[E]xamines the era of the American Revolution (1770-89) through the eyes of 100 children who were between the ages of five and 16 during the conflict. Drawing on diaries, journals, and letters (more by boys than girls), Werner provides a fascinating primary angle on the Revolution. For instance, included are the stories of two young men who were with Washington at Valley Forge and young Emily Geiger, who risked her life to carry a message through British territory to General Greene....[r]ecommended for academic and large public libraries." - Library Journal

"In a series of well-received works, Emmy E. Werner has examined the factors that help children bounce back from adversity. To explain why it is that some young people succeed in overcoming hardship, stress, pressure, and disappointment, Werner not only conducted longitudinal studies of poor children in contemporary United States, but also burrowed into the past, exploring how earlier generations coped with the trials and tribulations posed by war and migration... The first- hand accounts included in the manuscript bring the period to life in a way that few other sources do. Especially noteworthy are excerpts from the diaries of Hessain teenagers who fought in the Revolution and accounts of Loyalist exiles." - American Studies The University of Kansas

Synopsis:

The voices of the children and teenagers have seldom been heard in historical accounts of the American Revolution. This book tells the story of the "forgotten" youngsters who engaged in the boycott of British goods and the battles that led up to the Declaration of Independence: the story of their courageous exploits in eight years of warfare on land and sea, and the story of the social forces that shaped and transformed their post-war lives. The Revolution challenged the notions of patriarchal authority. It introduced serious risks and disruptions in the lives of the young, but it also gave them an unprecedented degree of autonomy and a sense of responsibility that allowed them to seize the opportunities that they gained with their independence. The book is based on the eye-witness accounts of one hundred children and teenagers who were between the ages of five and sixteen when they first observed the events recorded in their diaries, journals, letters, or memoirs.

They include reports from black as well as white boy soldiers, from teenagers imprisoned on land and on prison ships, from slave children and youngsters held hostage by Indians, and from children of loyalists and pacifists who opposed the war with Britain. Also included are the viewpoints of teenagers who fought for the British. The book sets the experiences of the children and teenagers who lived and wrote in that time in a historical context. It focuses on the major milestones of the American Revolution, and the contribution of young people to its progress and ultimate success.

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