TTC Video Ordinary Americans in the Revolution
The American Revolution was an event of world-changing proportions. Never before in the modern era had a large population undertaken the act of breaking free from a monarchy and its aristocratic control, with the improbable ideal of a representative, egalitarian government. The thought processes involved in this epic undertaking swept away centuries of ingrained thinking about government, citizenship, and the nature of human society itself.
When we think of the American Revolution, we tend to pay attention to the iconic names—Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Franklin—the thinkers who articulated the vision of the new nation and became its standard bearers and leading lights. But it’s easy to forget that the American Revolution was an insurgent movement requiring mass communication, mass mobilization, and a single-mindedness of purpose on the part of a huge number of colonists acting together, joined by a common cause.
Who were these people? What drove them to participate in the unlikely attempt to defeat the world’s mightiest superpower? How did they think and act to bring about a new form of society and government? Perhaps most significantly, how did they view themselves and the stake they had in this most daring of social and political experiments?
In Ordinary Americans of the Revolution, taught by Professor Richard Bell of the University of Maryland, you’ll discover the American Revolution from a startlingly different perspective: not the perspective of the Founding Fathers, who were people of wealth and privilege, but of the common people who made the revolution happen. Over the course of 28 lessons, you’ll meet the soldiers, midwives, artisans, shopkeepers, farmers, enslaved people, and all the other men and women—European-American, Native American, and African American—with whom the success or failure of the American Revolution depended. Without these people, there could have been no revolution.
Meet the Unknown Actors in the Founding of the United States
Through this course, you’ll journey far beyond historic battles and political events into the intimate experience of people such as:
George Hewes, an obscure shoemaker who became enmeshed in the events of the Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party, in which he played a leading role;
Tom Paine, a British immigrant whose galvanizing rhetoric in the pamphlet Common Sense catalyzed a mass movement focused on the daring goal of independence;
Deborah Sampson, a young weaver who fought for more than a year in the Continental Army and distinguished herself in battle, disguised as a man;
Harry Washington, the former slave of George Washington who became a loyalist serving in British regiments only to pivot again and fight British tyranny in Sierra Leone; and
Mary Silliman, whose poignant letters speak of the hardships and sacrifices of many thousands of women who supported the patriot cause.