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The American Revolution

The American Revolution

The American Revolution Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

The Quartering Act of 1774 enabled the governor of Massachusetts to commandeer housing for British officers and soldiers, but it never actually stated that soldiers could commandeer private homes. Instead, it specified "uninhabited houses, out-houses, barns, or other buildings."164 The 1774 Quartering Act was actually a clarification of previous legislation that Parliament had passed in 1765 and renewed and amended annually. Only the original 1765 act included taverns, alehouses, and inns among the locations that officials could commandeer for the regulars. Even then, provinces were to pay innkeepers and tavern owners for the use of their property.165 Tales of officers knocking on doors to demand lodging for British troops appear to be legends without any substantive basis in contemporary evidence.166

When he went on his famous midnight ride to warn the Massachusetts countryside of the British army's approach, Paul Revere delivered the news by calling out that "The Regulars are coming out!"—not "The British are coming!" as legend (and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) would have it.167

News of the first shots fired at Lexington, Massachusetts took one day to reach Portsmouth, New Hampshire and four days to reach New York City.168

The first major conflict of the Revolutionary War is known as the Battle at Bunker Hill, but that's actually inaccurate. The true location of the battle was Breed's Hill, which was closer to Boston.169

The American Revolution introduced the potential for unintended and even radical upheavals in colonial society, particularly in the regions where slavery was widespread and evangelicals could seize the opportunity to preach a doctrine of total emancipation. In their initial drafts of Virginia's Declaration of Rights in 1776, George Mason, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson all included a provision whereby authorities could arrest anyone who "under color of religion....disturb the peace, happiness, or safety of society."170

King George III was not actually mad (as in crazy), as has often been rumored. At least, he was not exhibiting strange behavior during the Revolutionary War period, when he was a 37-year-old monarch who enjoyed making architectural drawings, collecting paintings by Caravaggio, Poussin, and Raphael, and playing both the violin and piano. It was not until the 1790s that George III began acting bizarrely, and even then it was probably because of the hereditary disease called porphyria (which was an undiagnosed illness until the twentieth century), not because of insanity.171

King George III may not have been mad, but he did directly participate in the Revolution...in a manner of speaking. After the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Washington's troops and many colonial onlookers, a mob rushed into Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan and tore down the 4,000 pound gilded lead equestrian statue of King George III that stood in the park's plaza. General Oliver Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, had the scrap metal brought back to his home in Litchfield, Connecticut, where it was melted down into some 40,000 bullets, all of which were used in the Revolutionary War.172

The largest urban concentration of slaves in the colonies during the American Revolution was in New York City and its surrounding areas, where some 15,000 African-Americans were held in bondage.173

Philadelphia upholsterer Betsy Ross is the reason that the United States has five-pointed stars on its flag instead of six-pointed ones. When George Washington and the secret committee organized to create the flag visited Ross in June 1776, Ross objected to the design because the six-pointed star was commonly employed in English heraldry. She demonstrated the ease of making the new five-pointed star by folding a piece of paper and creating the star with a single scissor snip.174

General Thomas Gage, the commander on the losing side of the American Revolution, many have been hereditarily predisposed to choose the doomed cause. As it turns out, Gage's aristocratic Anglo-Catholic family had been involved with centuries of failed endeavors: from his ancestors in Sussex who backed King John against the Magna Carta in 1215, to the Gages who sided with the Catholic party against the Reformation, to the ones who supported Charles I and the Royalists in the English Civil War, and the Gages who got behind James II during the Glorious Revolution of 1688.175

Historians have estimated that as many as 80,000 Americans actually left the colonies during the Revolutionary War. That's over six times the number of émigrés as a proportion of the population that fled France during the French Revolution. Most of these Loyalists were wealthy property owners, international merchants, and elite officeholders.176

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