Note: Dick and I were on the same page this morning about “Bunker Hill” – posting about Nathaniel Philbrick’s take on Bunker Hill. My husband Bill Sweeney just finished the Philbrick book and had lots of good things to say. I’m suggesting this Smithsonian article as a place to start your research!
As the annual rituals unfold today in celebration of the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument erected to the consequences of a battle between the American “rebels” and the British regulars, noted author Nathaniel Philbrick offers his view. In a newly published article in the Smithsonian Magazine, Tony Horwitz detailed his interview with Philbrick who asks us to put aside the tradition and romance of the “stories” and dig deeper for the harsh realities of revolutionary Boston and in particular the “Battle of Bunker Hill.” Horwitz writes:
Philbrick is a mild-mannered 56-year-old with gentle brown eyes, graying hair and a placid golden retriever in the back of his car. But he’s blunt and impassioned about the brutishness of the 1770s and the need to challenge patriotic stereotypes. “There’s an ugly civil war side to revolutionary Boston that we don’t often talk about,” he says, “and a lot of thuggish, vigilante behavior by groups like the Sons of Liberty.” He doesn’t romanticize the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord, either. The “freedoms” they fought for, he notes, weren’t intended to extend to slaves, Indians, women or Catholics. Their cause was also “profoundly conservative.” Most sought a return to the Crown’s “salutary neglect” of colonists prior to the 1760s, before Britain began imposing taxes and responding to American resistance with coercion and troops. “They wanted the liberties of British subjects, not American independence,” Philbrick says.
Of course, you can get the full flavor of this piece of history by reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s book “Bunker Hill.”