The leading actors and events in Boston in the 1770s - Samuel Adams, John Hancock, the Boston Tea Party, Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill - have assumed a cherished place in history. Yet, with the passage of time, a layer of legend has obscured the true picture. Here, from award-winning author Francis Russell, is the bloody story of the early days of the American Revolution.
During the late 1770s, Boston's townspeople were struggling to rebuild a community devastated by British occupation, the ensuing siege by the Continental Army, and the Revolutionary war years. After the British attacked Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, Boston's population plummeted from 15,000 civilians to less than 3,000, property was destroyed and plundered, and the economy was on the verge of collapse. How the once thriving colonial seaport and its demoralized inhabitants recovered in the wake of such demographic, physical, and economic ruin is the subject of this compelling and well-researched work. Drawing on extensive primary sources, including ward tax assessors' Taking Books, church records, census records, birth and marriage records, newspaper accounts, and town directories, Jacqueline Barbara Carr brings to life Boston's remarkable rebirth as a flourishing cosmopolitan city at the dawn of the nineteenth century. She examines this watershed period in the city's social and cultural history from the perspective of the town's ordinary men and women, both white and African American, re-creating the determined community of laborers, artisans, tradesmen, mechanics, and seamen who demonstrated an incredible perseverance in reshaping their shattered town and lives. Filled with fascinating and dramatic stories of hardship, conflict, continuity, and change, the engaging narrative describes how Boston rebounded in less than twenty-five years through the efforts of inhabitants who survived the ordeal of the siege, those who fled British occupation and returned after the war, and the influx of citizens from many different places seeking new opportunities in the growing city. Carr explores the complex forces that drove Boston's transformation, taking into consideration such topics as the built environment and the town's neighborhoods, the impact of town government on peoples' lives, the day-to-day trials of restoring and managing the community, the effect of the postwar economy on work and daily life, and forms of leisure and theater entertainment.