J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, January 02, 2015

Johnson on “Occupied Newport,” 8 Jan.

On Thursday, 8 January, the Newport Historical Society will host a lecture by Don Johnson on “Occupied Newport: Tales from a Revolutionary City under British Rule.” He will discuss “the complex experiences of Newporters living under British military rule” from late 1776 to 1779.

As in other port cities that the British army held for extended periods, inhabitants responded in a range of ways: some left or resisted secretly, others were pleased by the return of Crown rule, and many simply persevered, trying to figure out what the best course would be.

It’s rare for such a military occupation—thousands of soldiers from other places (in this case Hessians as well as British) demanding everyone conform to wartime security measures in a time of stress and scarcity—to make the occupiers more popular. According to the society’s announcement of this lecture, “By the time the troops withdrew after three long years, only a tiny fraction of those who had sided with them in 1776 remained loyal.”

As the Newport Historical Society’s 2014 Buchanan/Burnham Fellow, Johnson developed an interpretive plan for the Society’s “Revolution House” project. He’s earned an M.A. in American Material Culture from the Winterthur Program and is in the final stage writing his dissertation on military occupation during the American Revolution at Northwestern University.

This talk will take place at the Colony House on Washington Square in Newport starting at 5:30 P.M. Admission costs $5 per person, or $1 for members of the Newport Historical Society. To reserve a place, call 401-841-8770.

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