Episode 332: Experiences of Revolution, Part 1: Occupied Philadelphia

What was everyday life like during the American War for Independence?

In honor of the Fourth of July, we’ll investigate answers to this question by exploring the histories of occupied Philadelphia and Yorktown, and how civilians, those left on the homefront in both of those places, experienced the war and its armies.

These episodes will allow us to see how the war impacted those who remained at home. They will also allow us to better understand the messy confusion and uncertainty Americans experienced in between the big battles and events of the American Revolution.

This first episode investigates everyday life in British-occupied Philadelphia.

This episode is supported by an American Rescue Plan grant to the Omohundro Institute from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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

How did everyday people in Philadelphia live and work amidst the British occupation of their city between 1777 and 1778?

We speak with Aaron Sullivan, author of The Disaffected: Britain’s Occupation of Philadelphia during the American Revolution; George Boudreau, author of Independence: A Guide to Historic Philadelphia; and Kalela Williams, the Director of Writing at Mighty Writers and founder of Black History Maven.

What You’ll Discover

  • What the city of Philadelphia sounded and looked like in the 1770s
  • Philadelphia’s significance as a trade city in colonial America
  • Philadelphia’s enslaved and free black community
  • Philadelphia’s Quaker origins
  • Religious diversity of Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia as a disaffected city
  • General Howe’s decision to invade Philadelphia
  • The Battle of Brandywine
  • The British Occupation of Philadelphia
  • Philadelphians’ decisions to flee or stay during the British occupation
  • The British Army’s attempt to make a good impression on Philadelphians
  • The British Army’s need for resources
  • Quartering of officers
  • Social activities
  • The British Army’s impact on the Philadelphia economy
  • The impact of the Franco-American Alliance
  • Britain's decision to abandon Philadelphia
  • The Meschianza
  • The British Army’s evacuation of Philadelphia
  • The aftermath of the occupation
  • The return of residents to the Philadelphia
  • The rebuilding of Philadelphia

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