Most books on the American Revolution convey the tale of colonists irritated by the tyranny of King George III and Parliament’s practice of taxing without provincial representation. It would appear that the majority of the colonists approved of an insurgency against the British and had a desire for independence. The American Revolution looked like a war between united colonists and their mother country, but this is a long way from the truth. Gary B. Nash’s book The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America reveals alarming facts behind America’s birth.
Nash’s profound research uncovers the internal battles between those residing in the thirteen colonies. He focuses on events that occurred beyond the walls of what is now Independence Hall where the Continental Congress convened. The poor were involved in violent disputes with the rich over property rights. Abolitionists pushed for the unalienable rights of slaves. The rights of women were being ignored. Native Americans were massacred and driven from their lands. The colonies were collapsing as states chiseled away to sculpt new constitutions. These new documents would prove that the fight for the natural rights of man and liberty was not intended for all occupants of the colonies.
In the wake of all the internal chaos, the war against the British persisted. Many that spoke of independence were not willing to die for it. For those that were, compensation did not exist. The Continental Army’s enrollment dwindled as several accounts of deserters and mutiny were reported. The British lured colonists, slaves, and Native Americans with promises of protection, freedom, and trade. The patriots were forced to do the same. The war to create a new country would separate the already fighting colonists. It is hard to accept as true that the patriots prevailed.
Nash’s book is an excellent read. It is the perfect supplement to any other reading material about the American Revolution. His “unknown” truths provide the reader with more than an external glance at the war for independence.