1774: The Long Year of Revolution

Knopf. Feb. 2020. 528p. ISBN 9780385353366. $32.50;. HIST
Norton (Founding Mothers & Fathers) emphasizes that during the “long 1774,” from the Boston Tea Party in December 1773 until the battles at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, there were critical shifts in sentiment and action regarding British control throughout all of the American colonies. Thoughts of reconciliation with Great Britain turned toward revolution within months. The author examines contemporary documents to reveal the polarizing disagreements and debates among both common and prominent colonists that historians have generally disregarded. Opposition to radical views was suppressed through intimidation and lack of access to the press, giving the perception that radical thought was pervasive. “Patriotic terror”—threats of death, injury, property destruction, and defamation—prevented conservatives from speaking out. Meanwhile, local committees tyrannically enforced the agreement to boycott British goods passed by the first Continental Congress in the fall of 1774.
VERDICT Norton’s cogent discussion of the details of the “long year” will appeal to colonial and revolutionary period scholars and enthusiasts. Her inclusion of suppressed female and loyalist voices should be applauded.

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