Rise to Rebellion

Rise to Rebellion

"Rise to Rebellion" is a 2001 book by Jeff Shaara that tells the story of the events leading up to the American Revolution, from the Boston Massacre of 1770, in which Captain Thomas Preston was accused of yelling "fire" to his troops on the evening of March 5, 1770, to the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776. Deeply steeped in history, it is nevertheless a work of historical fiction, relaying the events through the supposed perspectives of various key figures, particularly John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage.

"Rise to Rebellion" is the first of a two-part series on the American Revolution, modeled after Jeff and Michael Shaara's Civil War trilogy. It is followed by "The Glorious Cause".

Plot summary

Rise to Rebellion is told in alternating chapter from the point of view of various figures in eminent positions prior to the American Revolution.

IntroductionThe introduction provides details about all the characters in the story. It tells about their lives until rise to rebellion started.

Part One- The Right and the Power

1. The Sentry- British troops led by Thomas Gage arrive in Boston. A British sentry Hugh White witnesses The Boston Massacre and struggles to keep the peace. Thomas Preston is accused of firing first at the civillians. Rather it was the other way around.

2. Adams- Lawyer John Adams runs to the scene of the Massacre and is told to return home. He discusses the event's implications with his wife Abigail Adams. The next day he is asked to defend Capt. Thomas Preston, the man accused of ordering the troops to fire; he accepts. Adams' second cousin Sam Adams, a radical scolds John for agreeing to take Preston's defense.

3. Gage- Gen. Thomas Gage attends a dinner party where he discusses the situation in Boston with the Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson. Hutchinson wants to remove the troops from Boston and Gage vehemently disagrees.

4. Franklin- Colonial representative in parliament Benjamin Franklin discusses the implications of the Boston Massacre with Dr. Johnson. Johnson advocates the British view, Franklin obviously disagrees.

5. Adams- John Adams and Josiah Quincy successfully defend Capt. Preston. Six of Preston's soldiers are also acquitted, two are found guilty and plead the benefit of the clergy.

6. Franklin- Ben Franklin is voted to represent Massachusetts in Great Britain. But because Gov. Hutchinson did not sign the bill to give consent Lord Hillsborough refuses to allow him the new position. Franklin becomes a symbol for the colonial cause.

7. Gage- Thomas Gage has become somewhat complacent. He feels that he is in a comfortable position in New York at the time. New Hampshire's governor requests some of Gage's troops to aid in a border dispute and he and an adviser discuss what they see as colonial barbarity.

8. Franklin- On a trip to Ireland Ben Franklin witnesses the plight of the Irish and compares it to that of the Colonist, which strengthens his resolve. He stays at Lord Hillsborough’s estate for 5 days where the lord attempts to get on Franklin's good side.

9. Adams- Following the Gaspee Affair King George III issues a decree ordering all Colonial Officials to be appointed by the king. This arouses great anger in Massachusetts because citizens of their state had nothing to do with the Gaspee Affair. John Adams speaks at a town meeting where Gov. Thomas Hutchinson tries to defend the king’s decree. Adams attacks it saying the Gaspee Affair was just an excuse for the king to take control of the colonies. Adams calls for the Colonies to unite and becomes a Son of Liberty.

10. Franklin- Franklin discusses the situation in the Colonies with a friend William Strahan and concludes that Great Britain has accepted an odious system of government and refuses to accept the changes beginning to take shape in the world.

11. Adams- Ben Franklin sends letters he intercepted to the Sons of Liberty. The letters are correspondence between Thomas Hutchinson and a member of Parliament, and reveal that Hutchinson supports curtailing the rights and liberties of the colonists so that order may be restored to Boston. Adams initially does not want to reveal the content of these letters publicly, but is eventually coaxed into it by Sam Adams. Adams discusses with Abigail how quickly things are changing and how revolution appears imminent.

12. Gage- Gen. Gage returns to England where he promptly leaves his pregnant wife to woo Benjamin Franklin, Franklin is hesitant at first but later submits to the charm of Gage

13. Hutchinson- Gov. Thomas Hutchinson reminisces about his house being ransacked following the Stamp Act. Also, he chooses his sons to lead a commission to combat smuggling of tea into the colonies.

14. Adams- John and Sam Adams go to the office of Thomas and Elesha Hutchinson in order to convince them to stop their efforts to put non-British imported tea companies out of business. Their attempt is futile.

15. Adams- Gov. Hutchinson requires that the ship Dartmouth unload its cargo despite the protests of its Capitan Rotch. An assembly of concerned Boston citizens—led by Sam Adams—resolves to remove its cargo of tea by any means necessary.

16. Captain Hall- Capt. Hall of the Dartmouth witnesses the Boston Tea Party.

17. Franklin- Following his friend Mr. Temple almost killing a man in a duel over accusations of being the one responsible for the release of Hutchinson’s letters, Franklin confesses. The Massachusetts Bay Colony files a petition for the removal of Hutchinson.

18. Gage- Thomas Gage witnesses Hutchinson’s acquittal. He meets with King George III and requests four regiments be sent to Boston. The king eventually concurs and Gage is given command of these troops along with the governorship of Massachusetts.

19. Adams- Abigail receives from Hayden--a tenet farmer on her farm--that the king has issued a proclamation closing the port of Boston, ending the Massachusetts charter and moving all British trials to Boston. Abigail feels war is imminent.

20. Gage- Hutchinson official gives the governorship to Gen. Gage and they have a brief discussion.

21. Adams British troops begin to take control in Boston. Adams is selected for the continental congress as the colonies unite.

Part Two- Lions and Lambs

22. Adams- John Adams leaves for the continental congress in Philadelphia and experiences some trepidation. He finds it difficult to leave his family-especially Abigail. On the way through New York the delegates realize that their delegates-John Jay included-are conservative.

23. Adams.- The congress begins its session. Sam Adams fears that conservatives will take control. The congress hears reports that the British have destroyed Boston.

24. Adams- Conservatives proposals are defeated. The congress ends, accomplishing little.

25. Franklin- Ben Franklin meets with Lord Admiral Richard Howe through his sister and discusses the colonies, as well as receive the colonies petition to the king.

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