It happened on April 18, 1775. Bostonians Paul Revere and William Dawes galloped into history when they set out on horseback from the city to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were on the march to disrupt the Patriot cause. They planned to overthrow the fledgling revolutionary movement before more colonists were recruited to the cause of independence. Two signal lamps were lit, which meant the British were crossing the Charles river to launch their attack. Hundreds of Minutemen were roused and set out to confront the enemy. It was the beginning of the end of British rule in America, and a critical period in history.
The winner of the 2016 Grateful American Book Prize was Chris Stevenson’s, The Drum of Destiny, the story of a boy who walks hundreds of miles to join the American Revolution’s Continental Army. According to the author, “by reading [The] Drum of Destiny, young readers can learn about history without realizing they are learning about history. Most history textbooks are written with the idea of teaching kids facts they can memorize so they can then take a test. This method misses the most important aspects of history. The real life stories, the reasons behind the facts, and the character of our country’s founders are where the real learning is discovered.”
From February 23rd to March 6th in 1836, the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, TX was used as a fortress by Texans determined to win their freedom from Mexico. Approximately 4,000 troops under the command of General Antonio López de Santa Anna, sieged the fort, and trapped about 200 defenders. Nearly all of them were killed, including Colonel James Bowie, Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis, and frontiersman David Crockett. The battle captured the imaginations of settlers throughout the territory who rallied around the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo.” And, it set the stage for the independence of Texas, a hard won victory by Sam Houston and his 800 troops, who went up against Santa Ana’s 1,500 men at the battle of San Jacinto.
For further reading, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Margaret Cousins’ The Boy in the Alamo, a perennial favorite among preteens and teens.
On Thursday, April 30, 1789, six years after the end of the American Revolution, George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States, on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York, in full view of the citizenry.
Washington had distinguished himself as commander of the Continental Army, leading a band of heroic rebels to a decisive victory. His citizen soldiers had been up against the disciplined Redcoats, who fought on behalf of King George lll, but they were defeated, soundly. The Revolution was, perhaps, the first great adventure tale in American history—from which a powerful, free democracy was formed that became the envy of the world.
For further reading, The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Laurie Calkhoven’s George Washington: An American Life.
April 18-30, 2019 — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.