Episode 294: Mary Beth Norton, 1774: The Long Year of American Revolution

When we think of important years in the history of the American Revolution, we might think of years like 1765 and the Stamp Act Crisis, 1773 and the Tea Crisis, 1775 and the start of what would become the War for American Independence, or 1776, the year the United States declared independence.

Award-winning historian Mary Beth Norton, the Mary Donlan Alger Professor Emerita at Cornell University and the author of 1774: The Long Year of Revolution, joins us to discuss another year that she would like us to pay attention to as we think about the American Revolution: the year 1774.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Mary Beth Norton is the Mary Donlan Alger Professor Emerita at Cornell University and the award-winning author of six books, including 1774: The Long Year of Revolution. Mary Beth joins us in this episode to make the case that when we think of important years in the history of the American Revolution, we really need to consider and pay due attention to the year 1774.

During our conversation, Mary Beth reveals why she believes the eighteen months between December 1773 and April 1775 were crucial to the development of the American Revolution; The ways the political divide between those who would become loyalists and those who would become revolutionaries increased throughout 1774; And, how conservatives (future loyalists) and future revolutionaries thought about different events such as the Tea Crisis, the Coercive Acts, and the meeting of the First Continental Congress.

What You’ll Discover

  • 1774 and the division in American society
  • Loyalists in books about the American Revolution
  • Tea Crisis of 1773
  • Misconceptions about the Boston Tea Party
  • Philadelphia as leader of the Tea Crisis of 1773
  • Communication of ideas through newspapers
  • Colonial responses to the Boston Tea Party
  • Coercive/Intolerable Acts
  • Colonial responses to the Coercive Acts of 1774
  • Nonimportation and non-importation pacts
  • First Continental Congress
  • Crown officials’ response to nonimportation and non-exportation
  • Crown officials’ response to the First Continental Congress
  • Ways the First Continental Continental Congress impacted the Revolution
  • The Continental Association
  • King George III’s reaction to colonial protests
  • The loyalist or conservative experience in 1774
  • Use of the words “loyalist” and “revolutionary”
  • Use of the term “unconstitutional”
  • Why 1774 is an important year in the history of the American Revolution

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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if Boston had not destroyed the tea in December 1773? What would 1774 have been like if there had been no Coercive Acts and therefore no punishment for the destruction of the tea?

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