Monday, June 10, 2013

Covart's American Revolution Reborn Recap: Part 4

In her recent recap (4 of 6) of the recent American Revolution Reborn conference at Penn, Liz Covart covers the session on violence and the American Revolution.  The panel featured Michael Zuckerman, Zara Anishanslin, Denver Brunsman, and David Hsiung.  Here is a taste of Covart's coverage:

Biggest Takeaway: The American Revolution is a compelling story that never goes away. However, scholars need to find ways to work the violence of the Revolutionary War into their narratives. 

Biggest Question: How can historians get at and understand the violence of the American Revolution?

Panel Summary:

Anishanslin urged historians to grapple with how colonists experienced, saw, and witnessed the Revolution. Anishanslin believes that material culture offers the best way to understand and interpret the violence of the war; most Americans get their history from historic sites not archives. Americans will better understand that the War for Independence was a bloody, violent civil war if historians and museums can discuss how material culture contains the violence of the war.

Brunsman found that the British Royal Navy impressed tens of thousands of men and yet experienced a low rate of desertion: 7% during the Napoleonic wars. Impressed men stayed in the Navy because of naval discipline, the danger of the high seas, and the fact that sailors took pride in their work. However, the American Revolution caused desertion rates to double to 14%; most sailors deserted within the first year of their service. Brunsman attributed higher desertion rates to longer periods in American ports & ideology; sailors did not want to fight their American brethren.

Read the rest here.