Video Category: Classroom Videos

The British Are Coming: The War for America Begins

Rick Atkinson
October 22, 2021

Who can doubt that the creation story of our founding in the American Revolution remains valid, vivid and thrilling? Even in 2021, at a moment when national unity is elusive, when our partisan rancor seems ever more toxic, when the simple concept of truth is assailed, that story informs who we are, where we came […]

Title page of the Deborah Sampson biography, "The Female Review."

Deborah Sampson at War

Rachel Nellis
May 15, 2020

Librarian Rachel Nellis discusses Herman Mann’s The Female Review: or, Memoirs of an American Young Lady, a 1797 biography of Deborah Sampson, a soldier in the Massachusetts Line and one of the first female pensioners of the American Revolution. Mixing fact with romantic inventions, the book was published to support Deborah’s application for a pension, […]

T. Cole Jones spoke about his book, Captives of Liberty, dealing with prisoners of war, at the American Revolution Institute.

Prisoners of War in the American Revolution

T. Cole Jones
February 27, 2020

Prisoners of war presented an enormous challenge for Patriot forces during the American Revolution. Patriots captured more than seventeen thousand enemy soldiers during the war. At times the prisoners in American hands outnumbered the Continental Army. At the outset of the war, Americans treated British prisoners in accordance with the conventions of eighteenth-century warfare, but the […]

Louis XVI biographer John Hardman presents the 2019 George Rogers Clark lecture discussing the factors that ultimately led to French support for the War for American Independence.

Louis XVI and the War of American Independence

John Hardman
October 25, 2019

Aid sent by Louis XVI tipped the scales in favor of a Patriot victory in the War for American Independence. However, this assistance was far from assured. John Hardman argues that the French monarch possessed sharp political insight and talent in foreign policy, and his choice to support the Patriot cause was nearly lost. Why […]

Christy Pichichero discussed the military enlightenement and the French army at the American Revolution Institute.

The American Revolution and the French Military Enlightenment

Christy Pichichero
October 10, 2019

Christy Pichichero illustrates how the French Enlightenment philosophies of foreign officers in the American Revolution informed their perspective of American customs. Selecting the marquis de Chastellux and the comte de Rochambeau—whose memoirs are a part of the Institute’s rich archival collections—among her examples, Dr. Pichichero labels these men “military philosophers” who brought Enlightenment philosophy to […]

Patrick Spero is the Director of the American Philosophical Society.

Rebels on the Pennsylvania Frontier

Patrick Spero
December 13, 2018

Patrick Spero examines the overlooked conflict between the Black Boys of Pennsylvania, Native American forces and the British Empire prior to the American Revolution. As the Stamp Act riled eastern seaports, frontiersmen clashed with the British Empire over another issue: Indian relations. When British officials launched a risky diplomatic expedition into Pennsylvania’s Allegheny frontier to […]

Emily Schulz Parsons, deputy director and curator of the American Revolution Institute, discusses a portrait of loyalist James DeLancey.

A Portrait of American Loyalist James DeLancey

Emily Parsons
November 16, 2018

American loyalist Colonel James DeLancey of Westchester County, New York, who led several loyalist cavalry and infantry units during the American Revolution is the subject of this portrait ca. 1778-1782 attributed to itinerant artist John Durand. Portraits of American loyalists depicted in the uniforms they wore when they fought against the patriot cause are rare. Emily […]

Historian Bob Selig discusses burial of the dead on Revolutionary War battlefields.

Battlefield Burial during the Revolutionary War

Robert Selig
October 30, 2018

Although battlefield burial is seldom covered by modern historians, following almost any military engagement, corpses needed to be buried. Who was responsible for disposing of these corpses? How can we tell who buried whom? Were officers and other ranks buried together or separate? Robert Selig answers these and related questions about burying the dead during the […]

Kathleen DuVal gave the George Rogers Clark Lecture on the Revolution in the Spanish borderlands.

The American Revolution on the Spanish Borderlands

Kathleen DuVal
October 26, 2018

Kathleen DuVal illuminates the American Revolution on the Spanish borderlands—recounting clashes between the Spanish and British forces over the territory along the Gulf of Mexico. The capture of Mobile and the Siege of Pensacola were critical to the outcome of the Revolutionary War, the future of the American South and the lives of the people […]

Colonel Jeremiah Lee of Marblehead

Robert Booth
October 3, 2018

Colonel Jeremiah Lee was a fabulously wealthy colonial merchant who turned against the British Empire and became a leader of the rebel movement in Massachusetts. Historian Robert Booth brings this outspoken revolutionary to life as part of the 250th anniversary celebration of Lee’s achievements, hosted by the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati and the Marblehead […]

Robert Allison of Suffolk University is the author of several books on Boston in the American Revolution.

Was the American Revolution Inevitable?

Robert Allison
October 27, 2017

“Was the American Revolution inevitable?” is a complex question posed by Robert Allison. The achievement of independence hinged upon the cooperation of colonists from diverse backgrounds to unite in a common cause. The people in British North America had profound differences—religious, social, political and economic—that surfaced in local communities, as well as in Congress and […]

Rachel Engle discusses her research on camraderie in the Continental Army.

The Social Community of the Continental Army

Rachel Engl
October 24, 2017

Rachel Engl charts social community—the ways individuals initiated and maintained casual and intimate relationships—in the Continental Army. Over the course of the Revolutionary War, tens of thousands of men served in the Continental Army, many of whom formed strong friendships while fighting. Personal connections sustained men within the Continental Army and opened new opportunities for some […]

C.L. Bragg discusses his research on the execution of Isaac Hayne in Revolutionary South Carolina.

The Execution of Isaac Hayne, South Carolinian

Cordell Lee Bragg
March 7, 2017

Col. Isaac Hayne was hung for treason on August 4, 1781, in Charleston, South Carolina, by the British army. The death of a patriot for the cause of liberty was not a unique occurrence, but the unusually well-documented events surrounding the execution of Hayne and the involvement of his friends and family make his story […]

Carl Borick discussed his book on Revolutionary War prisoners of war at the American Revolution Institute.

American Prisoners in the Revolutionary South

Carl Borick
April 19, 2016

American prisoners in the revolutionary South held captive by the British forces were a logistical and financial burden that contributed to their failure in the South. During the Siege of Charleston in 1780, British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot captured nearly six thousand American troops, the largest number of prisoners […]

Wendy Wick Reaves discussed George Washington in art at the American Revolution Institute.

How Revolutionary Americans Imagined George Washington

Wendy Wick Reaves
February 23, 2016

Prints of an imagined George Washington circulated around the country in the late eighteenth century as Americans yearned for images of their new leaders. At the start of the Revolutionary War, almost any fictitious image could pass as a portrait of an American hero. George Washington, as commander-in-chief, warranted extra efforts and American printmakers searched […]

Archaeologist Meg Watters was the lead investigator at Parker's Revenge, a Revolutionary War battle site between Lexing and Concord, Massachusetts.

Archaeology at Parker’s Revenge

Meg Watters
December 9, 2015

Parker’s Revenge, the scene of intense fighting between the retreating British and militia on April 19, 1775, is the site of recent archaeological discoveries. Because contemporary documents reveal little about this fight, an archaeological survey was needed to reveal clues left behind in the soil. Meg Watters and her team, using ground penetrating radar and […]

Global Migration of American Loyalists

Maya Jasanoff
November 5, 2015

At the end of the American Revolution, sixty thousand Americans loyal to the British cause fled the United States and became refugees throughout the British Empire. Loyalists traveled to Canada, sailed for Britain, and journeyed to the Bahamas and the West Indies. Some ventured still farther afield, to Africa and India. Wherever they went, this voyage […]

Maya Jasanoff presents her research about the global migration of American Loyalists after the Revolution at the American Revolution Institute.

American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

Maya Jasanoff
October 23, 2015

Global migration of American Loyalists following the Revolutionary War is a topic easily overlooked by scholars and educators as they trace the path of the victorious Patriot forces. However, at the end of the American Revolution, sixty thousand Americans loyal to the British cause fled the United States and became refugees throughout the British Empire, […]

Librarian Rachel Jirka discussed two French accounts of the Yorktown campaign.

Two Narratives of the French Army’s March to Yorktown

Rachel Jirka
August 14, 2015

French narratives of the march to Yorktown from the American Revolution Institute’s collection—written by Henri-Dominique de Palys, chevalier de Montrepos, and Robert Guillaume, baron de Dillon—are highlighted in this presentation by Rachel Jirka, an Institute librarian. The narratives detail the French army’s march to Yorktown in 1781 and provide insight into the French experience marching […]

Oneida and Six Nations

James Kirby Martin
July 24, 2015

The Oneida nation was the only one of the Iroquois Confederacy to ally with the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Congress formally honored the Oneida in 1794 for their service to the American cause, yet over time the Oneida sacrifice faded in American memory and was eventually forgotten. Professor Martin describes their important contributions to […]

Benedict Arnold

James Kirby Martin
July 24, 2015

American general Benedict Arnold secretly conspired with the enemy to surrender West Point and George Washington. Disaster for the Americans was thwarted only when Arnold’s co-conspirator, John André, was captured with plans of the West Point fortifications in his boot. Professor Martin tells Arnold’s full story, from his childhood and support for the American cause […]

Robert Selig presents a lecture on the march to Yorktown at the American Revolution Institute’s headquarters.

The March to Yorktown

Robert Selig
July 16, 2015

The epic march to Yorktown undertaken by the French and patriot forces was the largest troop movement in the Revolutionary War. From 1781-1782 French forces marched under the command of the comte de Rochambeau to and from Yorktown, alongside their American allies led by George Washington, as they traveled from Newport, Rhode Island, and West […]

A Well-Regulated Militia: History of the Second Amendment

Saul Cornell
June 16, 2015

Professor Cornell delves into the complicated history and interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He argues that the amendment neither guarantees the right to own guns nor simply protects the rights of states to maintain militias—the two most common modern interpretations of the amendment. The American founders understood the right to bear […]

Andrew O'Shaughnessy is the author of a study of the Revolution in the Caribbean.

The American Revolution in the Caribbean

Andrew O'Shaughnessy
December 4, 2014

In British America in 1776, there were twenty-six, not thirteen colonies—the majority of the colonies outside the mainland were in the Caribbean. Even though they shared many important similarities and connections with the mainland colonies, they did not rebel. Andrew O’Shaughnessy argues that the economic and political differences in the British colonies in the Caribbean […]

James Kirby Martin of the University of Houston is an authority on the military history of the American Revolution.

George Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy

James Kirby Martin
October 24, 2014

In March of 1783, the Newburgh Conspiracy threatened to derail the fragile calm at the end of the Revolutionary War. The rumors of peace after Yorktown brought anxiety to soldiers in the Continental Army. The Continental Congress had not paid them for some time, and they would soon return home, many impoverished. The soldiers had […]

An Empire Divided: Revolution and the British Caribbean

Andrew O’Shaughnessy
September 26, 2014

There were twenty-six colonies, not thirteen, in British America in 1776, and the majority of the colonies outside the mainland were in the Caribbean. Even though they shared many important similarities and connections with the mainland colonies, they did not rebel. Dr. O’Shaughnessy examines the British colonies in the Caribbean during the American Revolution and […]

Dennis Conrad, formerly an editor of the Nathanael Greene Papers, now edits Naval Documents of the American Revolution, presents a lecture about the Continental Navy.

Naval Warfare in the Spring of 1778

Dennis Conrad
September 24, 2014

Dennis Conrad recounts the significant alterations the Continental Navy underwent during the American Revolution in the spring of 1778. Naval warfare in the Revolutionary War took place in the Atlantic and beyond—stretching as far away as the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. The internationalization of naval conflicts and an increase in the number and […]

Lord North

Andrew O'Shaughnessy
September 24, 2014

The policies of Lord North, the British prime minister during the American Revolution, united the American colonies in rebellion. The Tea Act and the Coercive Acts solidified many colonists’ objections to what they considered British oppression. Dr. O’Shaughnessy examines the successes and failures of Lord North’s administration, which ended with his resignation six months after […]

Mel Gibson’s The Patriot: An Historian’s View

Walter Edgar
July 13, 2014

Mel Gibson’s film The Patriot, released in 2000, is a valuable teaching tool, as Professor Edgar argues in this look at its themes and accuracy. The film illustrates two important themes very well: the vicious, partisan nature of the war in the South, and the wide range of interests and ideals that motivated southerners, whether […]

The Southern Frontier in the American Revolution

Walter Edgar
May 8, 2014

The American Revolution did not begin and end in Boston. The backcountry in the South was an especially important region in the struggle for American independence. Professor Edgar examines the complicated factors that influenced the conflict in this region, including Southerners’ reactions to the Stamp Act and Townsend Duties and the political empowerment of backcountry […]

Women Who Followed the Continental Army

Carol Berkin
April 10, 2014

In the popular imagination, men conducted the Revolutionary War and the Continental Army and its encampments were an all-male environment. Professor Berkin reveals that, in reality, women and children accompanied the army and provided important services to sustain it, including cooking and laundering. The presence of these women decreased desertion and supplied necessary labor, although, […]

African American Women and the American Revolution

Carol Berkin
April 10, 2014

African American women longed for freedom as much as anyone in revolutionary America, but few enjoyed its blessings. Liberty proved elusive, whether offered by the British or articulated by American revolutionaries. Some African American women in Virginia liberated themselves in response to Lord Dunmore’s proclamation, only to be sold back into slavery. Others fled to […]

Native American Women and the American Revolution

Carol Berkin
April 10, 2014

The American Revolution was many revolutions, argues Professor Berkin, transforming the lives of Native Americans while the colonists fought for independence. For many Native Americans, victory meant increased pressure from white settlers. Native American women shared their peoples’ struggles for independence and autonomy. Professor Berkin highlights the story of Molly Brant, a Mohawk woman who […]

Revolutionary Transformation of Women’s Role in Society

Carol Berkin
April 10, 2014

The Revolution transformed the role of women in American society. Law and custom in colonial America reflected the idea that women were morally inferior to men. Mothers bore and nursed their infants, but the task of teaching children right from wrong fell, at least in principle, on their fathers. Professor Berkin reveals how the Revolution […]

Daughters of Liberty and Loyalist Women

Carol Berkin
April 9, 2014

Professor Berkin illuminates how women—both supporters of American liberty and loyalists to the Crown—participated in the Revolutionary War and the challenges they faced during the period. Patriot women maintained boycotts of imported goods, joined the army disguised as men, acted as spies, and followed the Continental Army. Loyalist women were often stripped of their property […]

The Global Tea Party

Benjamin L. Carp
April 2, 2014

The Boston Tea Party was not just a local story, Professor Carp argues, it was also a global story. The East India Company was becoming a territorial power in South Asia. Its principal import, tea, came from China and was becoming a popular drink among Europeans. These Europeans drank their tea with sugar, planted and […]

Farar Ellliott, curator of the U.S. House of Representatives, discusses portraits of Revolutionary War in the U.S. Capitol in a lecture at the American Revolution Institute.

Revolutionary War Heroes in the Art of the U.S. Capitol

Farar Elliott
November 15, 2013

The Revolutionary War portraits that adorn the U.S. Capitol serve a purpose beyond artistic decoration. In the early nineteenth century, Americans searched for icons to unite them as a new nation, particularly ones that evoked civic virtue. The only symbols that the fractured and growing nation could agree on were Revolutionary War heroes. Learn how […]

Carol Berkin, a leader in Revolutionary era women's history, presents the vital role Patriot and Loyalist women played in the American Revolution.

Women in the American Revolution

Carol Berkin
October 25, 2013

The American Revolution was a home-front war that brought scarcity, bloodshed and danger into the life of every American, women included. While men left to fight, women shouldered greater responsibility as they maintained their farms alone and tried to prevent confiscation of property. Patriot women maintained boycotts of imported goods, joined the army disguised as […]

Civic Virtue in Early America

Saul Cornell
August 9, 2013

Revolutionary Americans regarded civic virtue—a willingness to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the community—as vital to the preservation of republican institutions. The ideal of virtuous citizenship was rooted in classical antiquity and influenced American political thought and the art, architecture and literature that helped define the iconography of the new nation. Professor Cornell […]

From Articles of Confederation to US Constitution

Saul Cornell
August 9, 2013

After winning its independence, the new American republic faced internal threats to its survival political, economic and cultural differences resurfaced during the return to peacetime. These pressures prompted the nation’s leaders to abandon the loose confederacy formed during the Revolutionary War and embrace a more unified country under a federal constitution. Professor Cornell highlights specific […]

U.S. Constitution as the Fulfillment of the Revolution

Saul Cornell
August 9, 2013

The creation and adoption of the U.S. Constitution was a fulfillment of the American Revolution, not a conservative counterrevolution. Professor Cornell details how James Madison, known as the architect of the Constitution, arrived at his proposal for the delegates’ consideration in the Constitutional Convention. He reviewed the new nation’s problems, the literature and history of […]

The Revolutionary Challenge to Slavery

James H. Hershman, Jr.
July 3, 2013

The Revolutionary War disrupted the institution of slavery in the United States. Lord Dunmore’s 1775 proclamation in Virginia promised freedom to men enslaved by rebel masters if they would fight in the royal army. The additional social unrest provided by war made it difficult for slaveholders to retain their property, and many enslaved people liberated […]

From the Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement

James H. Hershman, Jr.
July 3, 2013

A powerful thread connects the American Revolution and the civil rights movement of the 1960s: the world-shaking proclamation of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal” and have an undeniable right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It became the centerpiece of African American political thought for the next two […]

Slavery and America’s Revolutionary Leaders

James H. Hershman, Jr.
July 3, 2013

Slavery is the great American contradiction. The independence of the United States held the promise of liberty and equal rights for all, yet the country’s founding documents permitted slavery to endure. Indeed, many of the men who wrote and signed these documents owned enslaved men and women. Professor Hershman examines eight leading revolutionaries—George Washington, John […]

The Critical Time After Yorktown

William M. Fowler, Jr.
April 5, 2013

Many people assume that the Revolutionary War ended with the surrender of the British army at Yorktown in October 1781. In fact, the war continued for two more traumatic years. During that time, the Revolution came as close to being lost as any time in the preceding six years. When Congress failed to pay the […]

Revere and Longfellow

William M. Fowler, Jr.
April 5, 2013

“Listen my children and you shall hear.” With those lines, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow began his epic poem about Paul Revere’s ride on the night of April 18, 1775. When it was first published in 1861, the poem was an immediate sensation, and it has remained in Americans’ popular memory of the Revolution ever since. Many […]

Hardships of the Continental Army

William M. Fowler, Jr.
April 5, 2013

The soldiers of the Continental Army suffered extreme hardships during the Revolutionary War. Beyond experiencing the terror of combat, the troops were chronically undersupplied. The close of the war brought further anxiety as many of the soldiers had not been paid in months or even years, and the impending disbanding of the army would send […]

The Revolutionary War at Sea

William M. Fowler, Jr.
April 5, 2013

Battles at sea played a key role in securing American independence, even though the size and prowess of the Royal Navy dwarfed that of the nascent Continental Navy. John Paul Jones, who defeated the HMS Serapis, became the great hero of the American navy—both in his own time and to later generations of Americans. French […]

The Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party

Robert J. Allison
February 21, 2013

The people of Massachusetts had more power over their own government than anyone else in the British Empire. Bitterness and resentment festered among these independent-minded colonists as the Crown raised taxes on American goods and sent soldiers to enforce the new policies. These rising tensions eventually led to outward expressions of resistance, most notably the […]

The South in the American Revolution

Walter Edgar
January 4, 2013

For the latter part of the American War of Independence, the British focused on taking control of the South. They captured Savannah and Charleston and launched a campaign to crush rebels in the Carolinas and Virginia. George Washington responded to the threat by entrusting Nathanael Greene with command the American army in the South. Greene […]

The Seven Years’ War

Julia Osman
July 24, 2012

Winston Churchill called the Seven Years’ War the first world war. Yet, Americans typically think of this conflict only in terms of its North American theater, where it is most often referred to as the French and Indian War. The Seven Years’ War was a much bigger conflict involving world powers France, England, Prussia, Hanover […]

Rochambeau and Lafayette

Julia Osman
July 24, 2012

The marquis de Lafayette and the comte de Rochambeau were each vital to the fight for American independence, but they took different paths to their service in the American war. Unlike most other French officers, Lafayette did not seek a position in the American army to bolster his military resume or to simply follow his […]

Victory at Yorktown

Julia Osman
July 24, 2012

In August 1781, British commander Lord Cornwallis moved his troops to Yorktown, Virginia, hoping he could more easily receive supplies and reinforcements via the York River, near the Chesapeake Bay. Professor Osman details the events that followed, leading to the allied victory at Yorktown. The allied Franco-American forces, most under the command of the comte […]

King Louis XVI

Julia Osman
July 24, 2012

King Louis XVI’s people called him the “Liberating King” for his support of the American Revolution, so how did he end up beheaded at the guillotine? Professor Osman assesses Louis XVI’s conduct during the American and French Revolutions and how he met his downfall. The fortune he spent in support of the American War of […]