Study Guide

Minor Historical Characters in Johnny Tremain

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Minor Historical Characters

Billy Dawes

Billy Dawes is the other rider (besides Paul Revere) who leaves Boston with news of British troop movements. He is described as a gifted actor and rider.

Colonel Francis Smith

Colonel Smith is a British officer quartered at the Afric Queen. He employs Dove to look after his horses, Nan and Sandy, but Johnny does most of the actual care, both because he likes the horses and to have a chance at getting important information. Colonel Smith is presented as a career officer who has perhaps grown a bit lazy. Nonetheless, he commands troops at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Johnny sees him being unloaded on a stretcher after the battles.

James Otis

James Otis is a founding member of the Boston Observers, but they now try to shut him out of it because he has spurts of madness which may stem from a head wound.

James Otis doesn't play much of a role in Johnny's personal story, but he has the distinction of saying what are arguably the most important lines in the novel. In his only significant scene, he arrives uninvited to the final meeting of the Boston Observers. He calls them all out, one by one, asking what they are fighting for and what they are willing to sacrifice. He ends by saying they are fighting so that "a man can stand up" (8.5.65).

John Adams

John Adams is a member of the Boston Observers, but other than that, he doesn't play much of a role in the novel. Johnny Tremain is one of few fictional accounts of Revolutionary Boston in which John Adams is overshadowed by Sam Adams, his cousin.

Josiah Quincy

Josiah Quincy is a lawyer and a member of the Boston Observers who first appears when he defends Johnny for free in the case Mr. Lyte brings against him. He is portrayed as practical, with a dry sense of humor. He also has some sort of illness that indicates he is not long for this world.

Major John Pitcairn

Major John Pitcairn is a British officer who is well-liked by both sides and is known for his swearing. Along with James Otis, he has the distinction of his words becoming the title of a chapter. According to the novel, and to historical sources, before the Battle of Lexington he cries, "Disperse, ye rebels, ye villains, disperse! Why don't ye lay down your arms?" (10.4.32)

Mr. Justice Dana

Mr. Justice Dana is the judge at Johnny's trial for theft. While Mr. Lyte tries to form an alliance with him against Johnny, Mr. Justice Dana tries the case fairly, and even gives Johnny advice after the trial.

Robert Newman

Robert Newman is the sexton of Christ's Church. Johnny takes him a message to hang two lanterns in the tower on the night the British move on Lexington.

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