Mary Beth Norton, the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History Emerita in the College of Arts and Sciences, will discuss her book, “1774: The Long Year of Revolution,” in the next “Book Breaks” discussion, hosted by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City.
The virtual event is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31; register here.
The book, released in February 2020, is the culmination of more than four decades of research and thought. In it, Norton looks at the 16 months leading up to the clashes at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, in mid-April 1775. This was the critical, and often overlooked, period when colonists traditionally loyal to King George III began the discordant “discussions” that led them to accept the inevitability of war against the British Empire.
Drawing extensively on pamphlets, newspapers and personal correspondence, Norton reconstructs colonial political discourse as it took place throughout 1774 and recounts the series of violent incidents that began in December 1773 with the event later known as the “Boston Tea Party.”
Although the Declaration of Independence would not be formally adopted until July 1776, Americans had in effect “declared independence” before the outbreak of war in April 1775.
Norton, who taught at Cornell from 1971 until her retirement in 2018, has written six books about early American history, including “Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800” (1980).
“Book Breaks” features noted history scholars in America discussing their books live with host William Roka; a Q&A with virtual attendees will follow.
– Tom Fleischman