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The Minutemen and Their World: A Review

Robert Gross's book is a social history of the period before, during and after the first shots were fired at Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 which seeks to explain why and how Concordians and their defenders, the Minutemen, joined together in support of the American revolutionary cause and also examines the effects of the Revolutionary War and its aftermath on the town and its inhabitants. His fundamental point is that the townspeople were fundamentally motivated by local concerns and turned against British rule only gradually as they began to appreciate that their local liberties and other interests were threatened by the imperial policies of the Crown.

At the time of the Revolution, Concord was a crossroads town 20 miles northwest of Boston containing about 1,500 inhabitants. Gross said that "it was a hub of communications and one of the trading centers of the province" (the Massachusetts Bay Colony) since it was first settled in 1635, Concord had been peopled by farmers of white English Protestant stock. Clearing the land, pushing back the Indians and earning a living from the rocky, sandy soil had been an arduous task. Nevertheless, a number of families had become wealthy, either from farming or trading or both. As the time of the Revolution approached, this traditional elite, men such as Colonel John Cuming, a country squire whose bequest later started Harvard Medical School, and Ephraim Wood, shoemaker-farmer and a selectman and town clerk for more than 25 years, controlled public affairs in part because they could devote time to community matters.

The center of New England political life in colonial times was the town meeting, at which all citizens who owned property with an assessed annual rental value of a little over 3 pounds could vote, for local selectmen and town magistrates, a clerk and the local minister and their representative to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, who in turn represented thei...

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The Minutemen and Their World: A Review. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:02, March 19, 2019, from