Remembering and Revolutionizing the AmericanRevolution

 E Pluribus Unum




There were some who participated in the revolution who recognized that if America was to survive as an independent country, it would need to continue to build a national identity based at least in part on an awareness of its history and build a set of traditions that grew out of that history. Based on this concern, men like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and printer Isaiah Thomas wrote books, founded libraries, and organized other kinds of intellectual and historical societies. As John Adams had predicted, Americans also routinely celebrated the anniversary of the signing of the Declaratioin of Independence, although they did that on the fourth of July rather than on the second. (insert links and more explanations here)

As Americans prepared to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its independence, people began to become aware that those who were present at the birth of the nation were dying off. These fears were intensified when both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the anniversary itself: July 4,

Creating a National Memory

Acts of Founders--Jefferson's Library, AAS, Franklin's various institutes, Mercy Otis Warren and other histories.


Reminiscences of Revolutionaries

Daniel Pierce Thompson's interview of Jefferson


Obituaries of Founders

Famous Obits List at Archiving Early America


1830's and the 50th Anniverary of the Revolution

John Quincy Adams, "The Jubilee of the Constitution, delivered at New York,
April 30, 1839, before the New York Historical Society." Orations

Wirt and Weems bios.

Emerson's "Concord Hymn"

Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution, by Benson J. Lossing, 1850

Keye's Diary, Description of Anniversary Celebration of Revolution


Revolutionizing the Revolution:  Using the Founders and Founding Documents to Ignite a Second American Revolution in the 19th Century

Life and Narrative of William J. Anderson, Twenty-four Years a Slave; Sold Eight Times! In Jail Sixty Times!! Whipped Three Hundred Times!!! or The Dark Deeds of American Slavery Revealed. Containing Scriptural Views of the Origin of the Black and of the White Man. Also, a Simple and Easy Plan to Abolish Slavery in the United States. Together with an Account of the Services of Colored Men in the Revolutionary War-- Day and Date, and Interesting Facts
, William J. Anderson, Chicago: Daily Tribune Book and Job Printing Office, 1857. Available online through Documenting the American South at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Narratives of the Sufferings of Lewis and Milton Clarke, Sons of a Soldier of the Revolution, During a Captivity of More than Twenty Years Among the Slaveholders of Kentucky,

One of the So-Called Christian States of North America
. Lewis Garrard Clark, Boston: Published by Bela Marsh, 1846.Available online through Documenting the American South at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876,: Rev. George W. Williams, 1876 at The African American Experience in Ohio from the Ohio Historical Society. These resources are also available via the American Memory site.

Read this transcription of The Slave's Friend, #10 (1836) at Pat Pfliger's wonderful site, 19th Century Children & What They Read, and notice how many of the items refer to the people and events of the revolutionary era.

Lafayette's "Farewell Tour"

See also:


The Civil War:

April 19th 1775 [Pictorial envelope comparing Battle of Lexington to the Civil War's Battle of Baltimore.]


The Centennial:

The Centennial Exhibition: Philadelphia 1876, including Something for the Children or Uncle John's Story: His Visit to the Centennial Exposition


19th and Early Twentieth Century Historians on the Revolution:

Benson J. Lossing's Household History for All Readers, 1877 (listed here as Our Country); George Bancroft's The Great Republic, early 1900's (Note: you can also download copies of Our Country and Bancroft's The Great Republic by Master Historians at Blackmast Online


The Bicentennial:

By the time Americans celebrated the Bicentennial in 1987, the memory of the leaders of the revolution was still revered by most.  However, as the issue of slavery long since settled for all practical purposes by the Civil War, the question of the founders' attitudes and practices with respect to slavery should theoretically have been more open to discussion.  However, when Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American supreme court justice addressed this issue in a speech he delivered during the Bicentennial, it provoked a great controversy.

Index to Section on Expanding the American Revolution: If "All Men Are Created Equal," What About African-Americans?

Expanding the Revolution: Race, Slavery and the American Revolution

Investigating the History of Race and Slavery in Early America: A Guide to Critical Reading

Investigating the History of Race and Slavery in Early America: What the Founders Said, Wrote About and Did About Race and Slavery

Revolutionizing the Revolution in the 19th Century: Using the Founders and Founding Documents to Fight Slavery

Expanding the Revolution: An Annotated Guide on Topics and Resources on Africans, African-Americans, Native-Americans, and Women in the Era of the Revolution


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The E Pluribus Unum Project is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is co-directed by Dr. John McClymer, Professor of History, Assumption College; Dr Lucia Knoles, Professor of English, Assumption College; and Dr. Arnold Pulda, Director of Gifted and Talented student programs for the public schools in Worcester, MA. Visitors are encouraged to send inquiries or suggestions.