Rebellion in New England

Liberty triumphant; or the downfall of oppression, ca. 1774, by Henry Dawkins (-1786?), engraver. Library of Congress,

The Pursuit of History: Rebellion in New England
Topics + Speakers

See the reading list at the bottom of the page

J. L. Bell (Photo by Rick Bern)

The Spark of the Powder Alarm
The New England Arms Race
A Neighborhood in an Empire walking tour
Church and Town in Cambridge walking tour

J. L. Bell is the proprietor of the Boston 1775, providing daily helpings of history, analysis, and unabashed gossip about Revolutionary New England. He is the author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War, a book-length study for the National Park Service about General George Washington in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and numerous articles and book chapters.

John is a Founding Board Member of The Pursuit of History.

We recommend reading The Road to Concord in advance.

The Crown Response to Unrest in Massachusetts

Robert J. Allison chairs Revolution 250, a consortium of organizations and individuals that are exploring the history of the American Revolution and the ways that this story still resonates in society today. Bob is also the President of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and a Professor of History at Suffolk University. His books include short histories of the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party.

We recommend reading The Boston Tea Party and The American Revolution: A Concise History in advance

A Bigger Boycott: The Solemn League and Covenant
The County Conventions: Showing Resolves

Dr. Samuel A. Forman, MD, MBA, MPH, (,, @DrSamForman) is Harvard University faculty member and an independent historian of non-fiction, writing compelling stories of national import on a base of authoritative and new scholarship. In 2012, Dr. Forman published the award-winning biography Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty (Pelican) and Twenty One Heroes (Pelican). His most recent book is Ill-Fated Frontier: Peril and Possibilities in the Early American West.

Dr. Forman is a Founding Board Member of The Pursuit of History.

We recommend reading Dr. Joseph Warren in advance. It is out of print, but can often be found on used book sites.

Massachusetts at the First Continental Congress

Chris Beneke, PhD, is the author of Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism (Oxford, 2006). Co-editor of The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Early America (UPenn, 2011), Profane: Sacrilegious Expression in a Multicultural Age (University of California, 2014), and The Lively Experiment: Religious Toleration in America from Roger Williams to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). Current research focuses on the history of the First Amendment’s religious clauses, integration in public education, and Deadball-era baseball. His current book, Free Exercise, is under contract with Oxford University Press. He has written essays on politics, religion, and sports for The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Huffington Post, and The Christian Century, and is the co-editor of a Lexington book series on religion and American history.

John Hancock, Emerging Patriot Leader

Brooke Barbier, PhD, is a public historian who received her PhD in American history from Boston College for her research on Boston’s social and cultural life during and after the American Revolution. While earning her graduate degree, she taught history at Boston College and Stonehill College.

She is the author of two books about revolutionary Boston, King Hancock: The Radical Influence of a Moderate Founding Father (Harvard University Press, 2023) and Boston in the American Revolution: A Town Versus an Empire (Arcadia Publishing, 2017), and has been interviewed by the New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and, among others. In 2013 Brooke founded Ye Olde Tavern Tours, which offers tours of Boston’s historic sites and taverns. Originally from San Diego, she has lived in Boston for many years.

We recommend reading King Hancock in advance.

Reading List: Books from our speakers

The Road to Concord, J. L. Bell
J.L. Bell is our seminar organizer and the author of the daily Boston 1775, an authoritative and entertaining take on the people and events of the American Revolution in Boston. The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War provides a new dimension to the motivation for the British Army’s march to Concord that resulted in the famous “shot heard round the world.”

The Boston Tea Party and The American Revolution: A Concise History, both by Bob Allison, PhD
These two books provide a window into the tumultuous events of the 1760s and 1770s that led to revolution, such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, as well as the role the Sons of Liberty played in turning resistance into full-scale revolt. Bob will be speaking on “The Crown Response to Unrest in Massachusetts.”

King Hancock, Brooke Barbier, PhD
This highly entertaining book traces the contributions of this pivotal and often vain public figure to the early days of the Revolution both in Boston and Philadelphia. Brooke will be speaking on “John Hancock, Emerging Patriot Leader.”

Dr. Joseph Warren, Dr. Sam Forman
Joseph Warren was a Boston doctor and Patriot who played important roles in the years leading up to Lexington and Concord and was killed at Bunker Hill. Sam will be speaking on “A Bigger Boycott: The Solemn League and Covenant” and “The County Conventions: Showing Resolves.”

Additional recommended reading

1774: The Long Year of Revolution, Mary Beth Norton
An in-depth look at the events of 1774 throughout the Colonies that set the stage for the explosive conflict at Lexington and Concord in April 1775.

The Spirit of ’74: How the American Revolution Began, Ray and Marie Raphael
Americans know about the Boston Tea Party and “the shot heard ’round the world,” but sixteen months divided these two iconic events, a period that has nearly been lost to history. The Spirit of ’74 fills in this gap in our nation’s founding narrative, showing how in these months, real people made a revolution.

A Revolution in Color: the World of John Singleton Copley, Jane Kamensky
Excellent preparation for our visit to the Museum of Fine Arts on Sunday where you will see many iconic Copley portraits of key figures in the American Revolution.

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