The Spirit of 74

How the American Revolution Began

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.



“Ray and Marie Raphael provide readers with the lively story of how, starting with the Boston Tea Party, Massachusetts turned from resistance to revolution in a single year. Using well-chosen quotations from participants, as well as revealing anecdotes, their masterful narrative brings to life the human drama of this grassroots transformation.”
—Richard Brown, Distinguished Professor of History emeritus, University of Connecticut
“Most people understand that the American Revolution began in Massachusetts. What they may not know is that the revolution actually began well over a year before the gunfire at Lexington and Concord. . . . This revolution in Massachusetts was not brought about by the well-known ‘names’ associated with the revolutionary period but rather by little known locals supported by many thousands of ordinary people. . . . In a very real sense what became the American Revolution joined the revolution that had already taken place in Massachusetts in 1774. The Raphaels tell this dramatic story in a fascinating and very readable manner. Even knowing that the events of April 19th are just over the horizon, the unfolding of the tale makes for exciting reading. . . . This book thoroughly explains what took place in Massachusetts between the Boston Tea Party and Lexington/Concord. Without this background of revolution the march to Concord doesn’t make sense. The Spirit of 74 ties it all together.”
Journal of the American Revolution
“A well-conceived work of popular history that fills a gap in the chronology of the American Revolution.”

News and Reviews

The Washington Book Review

The Washington Book Review reviews Ray Raphael and Marie Raphael's "must read" book

Journal of the American Revolution

Journal of the American Revolution reviews The Spirit of 74

Open Letters Monthly

Open Letters Monthly calls The Spirit of 74 a "lively and thoroughly-researched" study of the early days of the American Revolution.


Kirkus calls The Spirit of 74 "a well-conceived work of popular history that fills a gap in the chronology of the American Revolution."

Goodreads Reviews