In The Shoemaker and the Tea Party, Alfred Young narrates an interesting life coverage of a poor Boston shoemaker by the name George Robert Twelves Hewes who participated in various core events in the American Revolution including the Boston Massacre, feathering and tarring as well as the Boston Tea Party. The author provides an intriguing account of how events became "special" to the nation and how Americans commemorate some important occasions that took place during the Revolutionary period. Having been born in Boston to a poor tanner, Hewes grew up in Wrentham, Massachusetts. As a teenager, he established a shoemaking career under the mentorship of Downing. He enrolled in the British Army but failed to meet the qualifications. Having no interests in politics, Hewes joined a patriot front in 1770.
With the advent of martial law in Boston during 1775, most of the Patriots including Hewes together with his family fled the city. From time to time, he participated in militia battles and acted as a privateer as well. In the 1830s, there was a revival of the American Revolution. During this time, Hewes was recognized as a hero in the community for being among the last survivors of the Revolutionary War and consistently attending Independence Day activities on every Fourth July. It went down in history that Hewes was among the few who helped secure the American Revolution.
The Main Plot Parts
Ideally, the book contains two linked parts. The first part introduces Hewes whom Young describes as a mere commoner who caused massive shockwaves in the nation. The second section of the essay follows the lead of memories into "tradition". Young elaborates on his experiences with Hewes Life, newspapers accounts, and contemporary prints. A significant portion of the book delves into the question of what, how and why history is significance. Well, Hewes is believed to be last surviving participant of the Revolutionary war. He received an invitation to Boston during the July Forth celebrations of 1835. Labor leaders and abolitionists praised him regarding him as a symbol of dignity and worth and an icon to the less fortunate and minority members in the society. Some of the prominent themes covered in the book include:
The book by Young vividly elaborates on how the American Revolution took place as it relates to memory through the biography of George Hewess life which is kept alive and passed on to future generations. By examining the life of Georges life, the author expounds vividly on the particulars of the American Revolution. Young utilized the archived 1830s Americas Revolution literature in composing the book.
The story points out that the historical value of oral testimony and memory that explores the fundamental questions encompassing the critical time that is indeed imperative in defining the national status quo. The richness of Hewes Revolutionary era memories eventually make him recognized and ultimately made him an icon worth emulating. Young contextualizes and analyzes these stories, and he comes to a conclusion on what the Revolution meant to Hewes and others in similar circumstances. According to him, the revolution helped boost Hewes self-esteem as a man and as a citizen as well.
According to Young, the revolution in America wasnt plebian despite undergoing vehement plebian current (p.206). The current was so significant to the extent that it influenced the results and the roadmap taken by the revolution plus it also reshaped the lives and views of nationals of the likes of Hewes. The Revolution period was not only long but also frightening. Occasionally, it raised eyebrows on what purpose and legacy it served.
How does an ordinary person win a place in history? Such is the phrase used by Young in opening his classic narration in the book. The prominent argument in book concerns about using history as an anchor of success in the future. The second part of the book narrates of the History of the Tea Party. According to Young, ordinary citizens can bring about radical changes of events. However, this has been overlooked in favor of the founding nation's famous "Founding Fathers".
The author documents some of the significant acts done by Hewes during his shoemaking life. He concentrates on Hewe's apprenticeship at a young age, his attempt to join the military, his shoemaking business, and later his participation in the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party. Young notes that the primary motivation that was driving Hewes into fighting for his nation was a history composed of personal experiences and that he shared with a large number of other plebian Bostonians. Young's account of how the next generation brings and insight of how the next generation regards history and that helps shape the future. He stresses on the society's history in that it resurrects and celebrates the past events in some measure of social invention.
The social class is yet another central theme addressed in the book. The privileged classes of the anti-British Patriots in Boston were alert about the necessary inclusion of the lower social class in their political fronts. Non-inclusion of the lower class postulated they would lack substantial influence and hence lacked effect. Tea Party was, in that case, an anomalous event: an action against property (private property in actual sense) endorsed by all classes of the society and participated in by them too. The main argument leveled by Young is that Boston Nationals avoided giving it any prominence more because they were very conflicted about it.
Hewes, his wife, and their eleven children lived in persistent poverty throughout their lives. Even after the outbreak of war in 1812, George Hewes continued to thrive in misery. Poverty was like a shadow to him, and it followed him all throughout his life. After the death of Sarah in 1828, Hewes continued to depend on friends and relatives for financial support. He searched for money and food from one household to another. Fortunately, he saw the light at the end of the tunnel after he gained recognition as being among the last survivors of the Revolutionary war and a guest of honor during the Independence Day on Fourth of July.
In conclusion, it is clear that history has a place in modern society and has myriad lessons to teach the contemporary audiences. Nevertheless, the author also highlighted of the social backgrounds of the dislikes that prompted renowned historians in the 1960s and the discrimination based on racism. The book accomplishes the goals as an effective teaching and learning aid for the coming generations and therefore, it has a very much relevant in the modern world. Hewes is indeed a fundamental and a pivotal character that helped secure the American Revolution. He continues to be a noble character through his biographies that give the impression that a typical person can bring about substantial development and salvation to the nation.
Hawkes, James. A Retrospect of the Boston Tea Party. New York: Beacon Press, pp. 3641, 1834.
A Retrospect of the Boston Tea-Party, with a Memoir of George R. T. Hewes, a Survivor of the Little Band of Patriots Who Drowned the Tea in Boston Harbour in 1773 (New York: S. Bliss, printer, 1834), 74-75; Quoted in Young, 65Alfred F. Young. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. 1999. Beacon Press.
Kristen Noble Keegan, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party by Alfred F. Young, History Live! (Blog), (January 2012). https://historylive.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/the-shoemaker-and-the-tea-party-by-alfred-f-young/.
Young, Alfred F. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. New York: Beacon Press, 1999
The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. New York: Boston Press, 1999), 85194.
An Outsider and the Progress of a Career in History, William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., no.52 (July 1995), 500. -66675121920 . Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier (New York, 2004), 273.
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