Free Essay: Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis

Published: 2022-11-24
Free Essay: Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  American revolution American history American literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 868 words
8 min read

Revolutionary Summer is a book by Joseph Ellis, that focuses on the political and military developments that took place in the summer of 1776 when Americans were fighting for their independence. In the book, the author claim that prior accounts broadly emphasized either of the following themes: William Howe and George Washington military campaign where they fought some wars to control strategic areas in New York; and the political debates about the independence in the continental congress. The author further suggested that his work was different because "political and military experiences were two sides of a single story, which are incomprehensible unless told together" (Ellis xx). In his book, Ellis, recount the political activities related to the independence and New York military campaign and tried to create a meaningful relationship between the two events. The two main characters in the book are John Adams and George Washington, with John Adams heading political events while George Washington led the military Campaign.

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In the books, Ellis sees John Adams as the catalyst that pushed for "The cause" of the independence movement, who labors persistently to attain a total separation from their colonial master- Great Britain. John Adams is depicted as a political activist who championed for the American revolution and was more interested in the right to counsel and the presumption of innocence. He was in total opposition with any anti-British opinions, and at some point, he defended the British soldiers against prosecution for the Boston Massacre. As a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress, he became the main leader for the fight for independence. He is depicted as an aggressive statesman who finds himself in conflict with other noble but pragmatic leaders such as Benjamin Franklin. In June 1776, the Congress established a Committee of Five, to draft a declaration of independence. The member of this committee was John Adams, who by then represented Massachusetts in Congress, Robert R Livingston representing New York, Thomas Jefferson representing Virginia, Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman. The Declaration Committee released and published the declaration in July 1776. As a result, John Adam goes down in history as a vital statesperson who assisted in the drafting of the declaration of independence, in addition to being its foremost advocate for the cause of independence in Congress. With the pace towards independence being relatively fast and united, the Congress under the leadership of John Adams commits itself to defend the reason for independence at any cost, even if it meant ignoring any adverse reports from the military wing in New York. It is the declaration of the independence drafted by John Adams and other members of the committee marked the independence of America from their British masters in 4th July 1776.

On the other hand, Ellis philosophically portrays George Washington, as a man who was always worried about his incompetent army and their defenseless position that could easily make the entire military campaign in New York to be a disaster. His stress on reputation and honors led him to make a series of risky decision that put his army at risk. Lucky enough for Washington, his British enemies, General William Howe and Richard Howe were only interested in resolution than destroying the Continental army. This is the reason why the British army failed to crush the American army after winning many important combats in the New York battle. Ellis blames both opponents for their failure to acts effectively at important junctures, and ironically point out that Washington's leadership help the British to win, however, due to Howe's thoughtfulness, they permitted American army to get away. The further argued that Washington was a brilliant military commander whose goal was not to win the war but not to lose as well. Due to sheer luck and his brilliant commanding strategies, he managed to preserve his army in the Long Island and Manhattan at those important moments of summer. According to the author, the survival of the Continental Army was critical for the existence of independence movements and the campaign for the British to give independence to the Americans. What is even more interesting is that the time for Washington's military campaigns coincided with the time when the declaration of independence and drafted and declared by the Continental Congress (Ellis).

It is clear both John Adam and George Washington played an important role in the American war for independence. As Ellis stated both the political events and military campaign served the same purpose, and none is more important than the other. Because of their joint contribution, none of them can be considered a hero over the other. If it were not for Washington's military campaign that helps preserve the American's army the Americans would have lost their war for independence. On the other hand, had not for John Adam efforts in pushing for independence and his contribution in the drafting of the declaration of independence, American's would not have gain independence in 1776 when the declaration of independence was officially adopted. This shows that both the Continental Army and Continental Congress has similar goals, with the action of one side playing a critical role in the success of the other.

Work Cited

Ellis, Joseph J. Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence. Vintage, 2014.

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Free Essay: Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis. (2022, Nov 24). Retrieved from

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