Category: Revolutionary Events

Lessons from the Boston Massacre

The connection between the Boston Massacre and the Tiananmen Massacre, and the lessons that comparison offers, are suggested by these images.

On the night of March 5, 1770—251 years ago tonight—a party of British soldiers shot and killed five Bostonians in an event known ever since as the Boston Massacre. The killings shook the loyalty of Britain’s North American colonists to the British government. John Adams wrote that the “foundation of American independence was laid” that […]

Lost Hero of Yorktown

The British surrender at Yorktown is remembered as a triumph for George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau. Students of the siege know that Admiral de Grasse played a central role in the allied victory, Alexander Hamilton distinguished himself in a daring attack on the British lines, and Henry Knox directed the artillery bombardment that […]

The President’s Illness

The president’s illness is not unprecedented. Indeed the presidency was less than two years old when the first president of the United States, George Washington, nearly died in one of the worst influenza epidemics of the eighteenth century. A dangerous strain of influenza began spreading through the new nation in the fall of 1789. No […]

Lessons from a Revolutionary Epidemic

This painting death coming for Revolutionary War sailors is a reminder that epidemic disease killed more soldiers and sailors in the Revolution than bullets.

George Washington’s aggressive response to epidemic disease during the Revolutionary War offers lessons for today. That war was fought not just against British forces, but against an enemy far more dangerous—smallpox. Smallpox was one of the most dreaded diseases of the eighteenth century. A viral illness, smallpox caused high fever, severe headaches, vomiting, pains in […]