Journal of the American Revolution

Fantastic News Valued Readers! I am happy to announce that I am now a contributor to the Journal of the American Revolution, "a fun, educational and interesting resource for serious and casual consumers of American history."

I will continue to post high-quality and informative content about history, writing, and the historical profession on this site, but about once a month I will post an American Revolution-specific piece over at the Journal.

Have no fear, Dear Readers. You will not miss a beat. I will announce and affix a snippet of all such content here.

Thank you for reading and for your support. I am honored that you choose to spend some of your time each week with me.

Here's a taste of my new article over at the Journal of the American Revolution.


Bunker Hill Monument, postcard circa 1897-1924

Bunker Hill Monument and Memory

Yesterday marked the 170th anniversary of the commemoration of the Bunker Hill Monument. It took the Bunker Hill Monument Association, thousands of individual donors, a craft and bake sale organized by Sarah Josepha Hale, a large donation from philanthropist Judah Touro, and seventeen years to complete construction of the 221-foot tall obelisk, the first major monument to honor a battle of the War for Independence. Although a long and expensive undertaking, the idea for the monument would not have come about had it not been for the political ambition of Henry Dearborn.[1]

In 1818 Dearborn ran for governor of Massachusetts. He faced incumbent John Brooks. As a Republican in a predominantly Federalist state, Dearborn needed all the positive press he could muster to strengthen his campaign.[2] So when the editor of the Philadelphia-based publication Port Folio, Charles Miner, approached Dearborn about verifying and editing a British soldier’s map depicting the Battle of Bunker Hill, Dearborn jumped at the opportunity.[3]

Dearborn hoped to accomplish two goals by editing and verifying Miner’s map. First, he viewed the map as an opportunity to add to his Revolutionary War Journals, which Miner had published. Dearborn had served in the New Hampshire militia and Continental Army from Bunker Hill to Yorktown, but he started logging his experiences after Bunker Hill. Second, Dearborn hoped to generate political support by highlighting his service to both Massachusetts and the United States.

Dearborn submitted his edited version of the map to Miner along with a fourteen-page account of the battle. In March 1818, Miner published Dearborn’s map and battle description. Dearborn’s most surprising and controversial recollection was: “[General Israel Putnam] remained at or near the top of Bunker Hill until the retreat…he not only continued at that distance himself during the whole action, but had a force with him nearly as large as that engaged. No reinforcement of men or ammunition was sent to our assistance.”[4] According to Henry Dearborn, New England’s beloved “Old Put,” hero of the French and Indian War and gallant patriot, was a coward.[5]

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