Within the past month, two new museums about the American Revolution opened in Yorktown and Philadelphia. Both were able to raise more than $100 million to create these new institutions, proving that there are many persons and institutions who believe the Revolution is relevant enough to spend generously to keep its history alive. Both museums are filled with exciting interactives and immersive exhibitions, and are located adjacent to historic sites.. I have already been to American Revolution Museum at Yorktown as a representative of our Society, and look forward to visiting Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution in the near future.
With the opening of these two new museums we can look optimistically at the future of Fraunces Tavern Museum, which has been educating the public about the American Revolutionary War since 1907. Clearly, there is a resurgence of interest in America’s founding, and we are confident that our museums will be working together to achieve the greatest reach of our parallel missions. There is always more to learn and new ways to share information.
Each year our Society gives out awards for books about the American Revolution. There are about 100 new books about the American Revolution, according to Ken Chase, our Book Award Chairman. Some are rehashes, but more than a few are excellent, well written, well edited, and well researched. Some of my personal favorites this year are American Revolutions, by Alan Taylor, and Brothers at Arms, by Larrie Ferreiro, 1777, by Dean Snow, Swamp Fox, by John Oller, and Revolution on the Hudson, by George Daughan. Often, and not coincidentally, the authors have spoken at one of the monthly lectures at the Museum, which are very popular events.
These books tell us that the American Revolution was not merely a succession of high points and triumphs. It was often a bitter struggle of endurance through adversity, and recovery from defeats. It was not just a tale of hardy self-reliance, as some have claimed. Without French gunpowder, armaments, uniforms, money, engineers, soldiers, and navy, not to mention battles in Europe, India, and the West Indies, the Revolution could easily have collapsed into insolvency and mutiny. Ultimately, there was success for the Cause, but it is difficult if not impossible to say that it was inevitable..
What these books teach us, and what we present as a Society, is that the real and deeper lessons of the Revolution are not the shallow, propagandistic myths that many of us were raised on. Yet what are ancestors achieved was even more extraordinary. Remembering and preserving those achievements is well worth the effort.
Ambrose M. Richardson, III
Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York