Friday, January 11, 2013
More than two hundred years ago, a group of British colonists in America decided that the conditions under which they were governed had become intolerable. Angry and frustrated that King George III and the British Parliament had ignored their lawful complaints and petitions, they decided to take action.
Knowing that their deeds—often directed at individuals and property—were illegal, and punishable by imprisonment and even death, these agitators plotted and conducted their missions in secret to protect their identities as well as the identities of those who supported them. Calling themselves the Sons of Liberty, they gathered together in a radical society committed to imposing forcible change. Those determined men—including second cousins Samuel and John Adams, Paul Revere, Patrick Henry, and John Hancock—saw themselves as patriots. Yet to the Crown, and to many of the Sons' fellow colonists, the revolutionaries were terrorists who deserved death for their treason.
In this gripping narrative, Les Standiford reveals how this group of intelligent, committed men, motivated by economics and political belief, began a careful campaign of interlocking events that would channel feelings of vague injustice into an armed rebellion of common cause, which would defeat an empire and give birth to a radical political experiment—a new nation known as the United States. -- Harper
My father has always been very interested in American History and especially the American Revolution. So when I first learned about the new book DESPERATE SONS: SAMUEL ADAMS, PATRICK HENRY, JOHN HANCOCK, AND THE SECRET BANDS OF RADICALS WHO LED THE COLONIES TO WAR by Les Standiford, I knew he'd want to read it. Here are his thoughts:
When I was taught about the start of the Revolutionary War, I was introduced to things like the Stamp Act, the battles of Lexington and Concord and the Boston Tea Party. I heard about Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and Patrick Henry. But the slant author Les Standiford puts on this familiar story in DESPERATE SONS brings a whole new perspective to the start of the Revolutionary War.
In the 1760s the British economy was suffering greatly from the financial burden of protecting its global empire. As a result they enacted the Stamp Act in an effort to get the colonies to help pay the cost of defending them in the French and Indian War. This action precipitated the formation in 1766 of the Sons of Liberty, a secret society of colonial radicals moved to action by the political and economic crisis that permeated the colonies. The Sons of Liberty were led primarily by Samuel Adams and John Hancock although other famous patriots participated. Adams saw that chapters of the Sons of Liberty were installed across the thirteen colonies. These chapters ultimately led to the formation of the Continental Congress and initiated the spark that led to the American Revolution.
It appeared that the British misread the signals from the colonies at every turn. Britain played into the hands of the radicals when after repealing the Stamp Act they later introduced the Townsend Acts, added British troops to Boston and greatly reduced colonial self-government. Even when the British backed down by removing troops and rescinding the Townsend Acts, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty continued to instigate and agitate the situation.
The Sons of Liberty were both radical and violent. Standiford gives examples of instances of tar and feathering, destruction of property and physical harm. In 1770, a confrontation later called the Boston Massacre resulted in the death of six colonists. Only the calm of Samuel Adams prevented this from escalating further. The author compares the Boston Massacre that rallied the last of the undecided colonists to independence to the Kent State Massacre that convinced the last of the undecided populace to call for an end of the Vietnam War. An interesting aside is the story that John Adams served as defense attorney for the British troops involved in the skirmish. Sons of Liberty activities were also responsible for the famous Boston Tea Party.
It’s interesting to note that while Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Patrick Henry were effective leaders in the pursuit of independence, they had a difficult time transitioning from radicals to players in the new national government.
Les Standiford’s thorough research is evident in this account of how the Revolution began and who led it. DESPERATE SONS is an excellent work of history that brings to life the role the Sons of Liberty played in developing a new nation. If I had any issues with the book it is that at times it was difficult to read.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history or has an interest in the American Revolution.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book and to Booking Pap Pap for his review.