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AMERICAN REVOLUTION

CELEBRATING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND THE CREATION OF THE REPUBLIC, 1750 – 1800

MONDAYS, NOON TO 2 P.M.; SEPTEMBER 17, 24, OCTOBER 1, 8, 15, 29, NOVEMBER 5, 12
Location: Advanced Sciences Building, Room L416/417, Entrance 11, Parking Lot 3
Fee: No charge / Max: 50
Lifelong Learning membership required
Course #19/FY-CPDV-2393-01 
 

Return to the era of the American Revolution! Spend each week in the company of people you may only know as icons on your currency: Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson and many others who changed history with their efforts!

We will study the actions of people not yet Americans as they wrestled with the toughest issues of their times. We’ll read the private letters and public speeches of the famous statesmen and unknown farmers who were swept up in these events. Our goal is to walk in their shoes and to see the world through their eyes. These weekly classes will take us to farmlands and fields of battle, to the halls of congress in the hot summer days of 1775 and 1776, and to the barracks of Valley Forge on freezing winter nights.

We will remember these hardy people in their actions and in battles from Lexington to Bunker Hill, from the retreat across New Jersey to the shocking surprise at Trenton, from Saratoga to Monmouth, to Camden and Cowpens, from Guilford Courthouse to the Capes, and to the end of the battles at Yorktown.

In every class, we will hear the personal stories of rebels and loyalists, of statesmen and commoners, generals, and mountebanks.

Too often the story stops at Yorktown, but we will go beyond the battlefields to follow the fights in the halls of congress as these rev- olutionaries tried to create a working government. They failed. The difference is, as in the war, they didn’t give up due to a setback. They returned to consider the needs and the desires of the people. We will learn about the compromises that became their greatest achievement, the Constitution and the Republic of the United States!

The true test came as they worked to make that republic function. It is important we learn this lesson because here was the work, without the glory of battlefield honors or brass bands for the victors, that made a country that has endured for more than two centuries!

How did they do it? Join historian Russ Gifford for this wonderful series of classes as he gives you a ringside seat at the creation of the American Republic!

Note: Each class will be a complete story, but each will fit together for the story of the path from a Colony to a Republic. 

SESSION 1: IN THE BEGINNING, 1750  1765
This class will trace a few important points on the differences in the colonies that will affect their development. We will move on to the realities of the North American continent, and George Washington’s part in the creation of what some historians consider World War Zero. We will also travel to England in the company of the bon vi- vant Ben Franklin and meet a few other people, such as Sam Adams and Patrick Henry. We will study the beginnings of disgust because of the aftermath of the French and Indian War and its consequences for all parties, especially, the North American Indians who sided with the French!
Monday, September 17; Noon to 2 P.M. 
 

SESSION 2: IF THIS BE TREASON: FROM STAMP ACT TO OCCUPATION TO REVOLT, 1765 – 1774
The stories of the Stamp Act to Occupation of Boston to the Tea Party and the Boston Massacre are well known, but we will attempt to go behind the stories to see it through the eyes of those involved! We’ll meet John Handcock as he committed his fortune to the de- feat of the British. We will meet British General Thomas Gage as he committed his future to the crown. We will see John Adams as he fulminated for justice, both for the colonies and for the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre.
Monday, September 24; Noon to 2 P.M.

SESSION 3: GIVE ME LIBERTY: FROM TICONDEROGA TO NEW YORK TO PHILADELPHIA TO TRENTON, 1775 – 1776
The years 1775 to 1776 bear a deep look. We will see and hear from those on the fields of Lexington and Concord. We will see it from the eyes of Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and George Washington from Bunker (or Breed’s) Hill. We will hear from Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others as the war began in earnest. Despite the increasing unlikelihood of victory, the patriots doubled down on their gamble and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their futures to the cause.
Monday, October 1; Noon to 2 P.M.

SESSION 4: THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY A MAN'S SOUL, 1777 – 1778
George Washington and Benedict Arnold started the year with vic- tories, but the British prevailed in many others. We will check in at the battles and on the home front hearing from women like Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, better known as “Molly Pitcher,” at the Battle of Monmouth. We will also meet two young men originally from foreign shores, who cast long shadows: Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette. There was nothing certain about success in those long summer days, followed by longer winter nights.
Monday, October 8; Noon to 2 P.M.

SESSION 5: THE WAR MOVES SOUTH, 1779 – 1781
The war moved south and with it the fortunes of Americans, as the rebels had started to refer to themselves, dangled on threads. As the French support included supplies for warships, the battles on land and at sea became increasingly important and more brutal. We will meet George Rogers Clark, “Mad” Anthony Wayne, John Paul Jones, and Nathanael Greene. We will also revisit an early hero named Benedict Arnold and a villain name Banastre Tarleton.
Monday, October 15; Noon to 2 P.M. 

SESSION 6: INDEPENDENCE OR ANARCHY, 1781 – 1787
The hard truth of revolutions is in what follows. We will visit America as peace treaties are hammered out and loyalists boarded ships to leave. George Washington admonished his troops as he bid farewell, which astonished England’s King George III and the rest of the world. The thirteen independent colonies felt their way forward, tripping on the cost of the war and defining what the Articles of Confederation really meant. We will also meet Daniel Shays, the rebellion of farmers, and the militia that threatened to undo everything. We will travel to Philadelphia again to meet Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Rutledge at the be- ginning of the Constitutional Convention.
Monday, October 29; Noon to 2 P.M.

SESSION 7: IN ORDER TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION, 1787 to 1790
The full story of the arduous journey to the Constitution’s ratification is epic. It is also one filled with fights, frustrations, anger, anguish, pain, and problems. The journey was unclear, as the compromises that gave it life are also the ones that damned it in some regions and gained only faint praise in others. We will follow the document to its fulfillment and see how that process eventually added what might be argued as the most important contribution, the Bill of Rights. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and many others will make their ap- pearances along the way!
Monday, November 5; Noon to 2 P.M.

SESSION 8: DO YOU SOLEMNLY SWEAR,1792 – 1800
George Washington was president. All was right with the world! What could have gone wrong?

We will learn how the Constitution actually became the law of the land, and we will learn about the addition of the Bill of Rights in the first Congress. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson battled for supremacy in Washington’s cabinet. There was the beginning of parties, the early impact of newspapers, and the peaceful change of executive officers when Washington declined a third term. Hamilton battled John Adams, and Jefferson picked up the pieces in the elec- tion of 1800. Or did he? Only 12 years in, a constitutional crisis made it completely unclear who would take the oath of office at the inauguration in 1801! The end of the story set the country on the right path and brought about the first peaceful handover of power to the opposition. This is the stuff of legends. Hope to see you there!
Monday, November 12; Noon to 2 P.M.

 

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