Friday, June 7, 2013

Covart's American Revolution Reborn Recap: Part 3

In her recent recap (3 of 6) of the recent American Revolution Reborn conference at Penn, Liz Covart covers the session on the Revolution as a civil war.  The panel featured Barbara Oberg, Travis Glasson, Michael McConnell, Kimberly Nath, and Aaron Sullivan.  Here is a taste of Covart's coverage:

Biggest Takeaway: Historians need to get at how civilians experienced the Revolutionary War. They also need to include the largest demographic in their war narratives: the Disaffected. 

Biggest Question: How can scholars get at the civilian and disaffected experience

Panel Summary: 

Glasson would like to know more about the civilian experience during the Revolutionary War. In Newport, R.I., civilians lived alongside several thousand British and Hessian troops for 3 years and among several thousand French troops prior to Yorktown. Civilians and soldiers befriended each other, offended each other, & formed grudges against each other. Newport had a lot of people who did not fit neatly into the patriot or loyalist camps. Scholars need to place more emphasis on the people in the middle, the disaffected and show how people’s political opinions changed throughout the war.

McDonnell sees the Revolutionary War as a civil war. Historians generally leave loyalists, Native Americans, African-Americans, and other opponents of the patriots out of their Revolutionary War narratives. They also leave out Americans who tried to take a middle path. Invariably divisions among Americans prolonged the war. The war and disaffection gave rise to new divisions between the states and between state and continental officials who felt that they had given more than others to the war. The Revolutionary War heightened localism rather than nationalism.

Read the rest here.