The essential backstory to the “shot heard ’round the world”
“Ray Raphael challenges us to reassess what we had accepted as fact—to root out the myths, to account for vagaries of memory and the biases of participants and chroniclers. . . . He provokes us, he shakes us up.” —2013 Bay State Legacy Award, Massachusetts Humanities Council
Honorable Mention, Journal of the American Revolution's 2015 Book of the Year Awards
Americans know about the Boston Tea Party and the “shot heard ’round the world,” but sixteen months divided these two iconic events, a period that has nearly been lost to history. The Spirit of 74 fills in this gap in our nation’s founding narrative, showing how in these mislaid months, step by step, real people made a revolution.
After the Tea Party, Parliament not only shut down a port but also revoked the sacred Massachusetts charter. Completely disenfranchised, citizens rose up as a body and cast off British rule everywhere except in Boston, where British forces were stationed. A “Spirit of 74” initiated the American Revolution, much as the better-known “Spirit of 76” sparked independence. Redcoats marched on Lexington and Concord to take back a lost province, but they encountered Massachusetts militiamen who had trained for months to protect the revolution they had already made.
The Spirit of 74 places our founding moment in a rich and new historical context, both changing and deepening its meaning for all Americans.