The David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, is, so far as I know, the only library in the U.S. of A. devoted exclusively to that war. It’s a quirky place. Founder Sol Feinstone named it after his grandson David, and the books are shelved in order of his acquisition rather than, oh, logically. Its holdings include lots of published materials, including books, microfilms, and digital resources, though not much in the way of manuscripts and other original documents.
This winter and spring the David Library’s lecture series is called “Five Views of the Revolutionary War,” and the views are:
Thursday, February 7, 2008 — 7:30 PMThese lectures are all free, but there’s limited seating, so the library asks folks to call 215-493-6776 x100 to make reservations.
Christopher L. Brown, Ph.D., Professor of History, Columbia University, “The British Are Coming: The Politics of Black Loyalism in the American Revolution and After” — Swept up in war, often but not always unwillingly, were America’s African slaves, whom most white Americans would not allow to fight or leave their place of bondage. Thousands, both men and women, responded to the war’s disruption by escaping to the British Army wherever possible, especially in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, and declaring their loyalty to the British Crown. At the war’s end, many departed from the United States for various parts of the British Empire, where they formed new and diverse settlements.
Thursday, March 13, 2008 – 7:30 PM
Scott N. Hendrix, Ph. D., Instructor, Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio; David Library Fellow, “Upright Men Who Entered for Steady Advancement: The Centrality of Military Honor and Reputation for the Eighteenth-Century British Army Officer” — Seeing the war as both a duty and a career opportunity, thousands of officers of the British Army ordered their conduct and defined their role in the conflict according to strict rules of honor. This concept of honor largely determined their behavior both in victory and in defeat, from the war’s outset until their departure from America.
Sunday, April 13, 2008 – 3:00 PM
Maj. Jason Palmer, Assistant Professor of History, United States Military Academy (West Point), “George Washington’s Disillusionment: Learning to Command ‘Such Men,’ 1775-1776” — When he took command of the Continental Army, George Washington imagined that he could shape and lead his army much as a British general would do. But he quickly discovered that the Yankee farmers and artisans under his command, both officers and common soldiers, would not be led in traditional ways, and in a difficult first year he devised a new system of command, which he carried through the next five years to victory over a quite different British army.
Thursday, May 15, 2008 – 7:30 PM
Holly Mayer, Ph. D., Professor of History, Duquesne University, “Congress’s Own: French Canadian Continentals and Camp Followers” — In 1775 Congress hoped to bring French Canada into the war on the American side. This largely failed as Britain’s Quebec Act, the determined resistance of the British army, and a smallpox epidemic in America’s invading forces kept most of Canada loyal to the Crown. But by late 1776, Congress had acquired a regiment of soldiers that were uniquely its own: not raised by any rebelling state, but formed entirely of rebellious French Canadian men, accompanied by their families and other civilians, who were willing to march south to fight in America’s war.
Sunday, June 8, 2008 – 3:00 PM
John Rees, Independent Historian, “The Pleasure of Their Number, 1778: Crisis, Conscription, and Revolutionary Soldiers’ Recollections” — Most Revolutionary War soldiers were volunteers or members of local militias, but not all. In 1778 several states, including New Jersey, instituted a draft, (the first, and last, draft in America before the Civil War). This drastic measure underlines a basic truth about the War for Independence: in both the proportion of the population under arms and the number of casualties, it was, along with the Civil War and World War II, one of the three largest wars in American history.
Thanks to John Maass of A Student of History for the info. The photo above comes from a guide to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which has useful information for anyone visiting the library from out of town.