The Olive Branch Petition

In a last-ditch attempt to avoid a full-blown war with one of the world’s foremost superpowers, the Second Continental Congress dispatched the Olive Branch Petition to London on 8 July 1775. The petition, originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson and tweaked by John Dickinson (who found Jefferson’s language too offensive), claimed the colonies only wanted to negotiate trade and tax regulations with the mother country, not … Continue reading The Olive Branch Petition

The Treaty of Paris

On 3 September 1783, delegates from the United States of America and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the American Revolutionary War. Artist Benjamin West planned to complete a painting of the historic moment, but the British delegation refused to pose, so that gives you an idea of how bitter they were about all this. The treaty ceded all 13 original colonies … Continue reading The Treaty of Paris

Bad News

On or around 10 August 1776, the Declaration of Independence reached England and was published in British newspapers. And you can imagine how popular that was. Lord North’s ministry, which was then in power, wouldn’t dignify it with an official response, though they did secretly commission a pamphleteer named John Lind to draft a rebuttal, entitled Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress. Lind’s … Continue reading Bad News

Benedict Arnold

Happy birthday to Benedict Arnold! One of history’s most famous turncoats was born on January 14, 1741 into a prominent family in Connecticut. Arnold was originally supposed to take up a career in trade, but in 1757 he joined the provincial militia to fight against the French in the French and Indian Wars. He only served 13 days, though the reasons for him leaving are … Continue reading Benedict Arnold

Making History

All authors want to be published and relatively well known in their lifetimes. Some are. And a few of those (very few) actually manage to help change history. One of those was Thomas Paine, an Englishman whose pamphlet, Common Sense, helped drive the American Revolution and shape many of its core beliefs. The pamphlet was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776. It became an … Continue reading Making History

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

On November 19, 1794, Britain and the United States finally buried the hatchet (until the War of 1812 broke out, anyway) and resolved some of the lingering issues from the Revolutionary War with the signing of Jay’s Treaty. The American Revolution had been over for more than a decade, but there were still some problems that needed to be addressed in order for Britain and … Continue reading Why Can’t We Be Friends?


Oh, it’s on now! On October 26, 1775 King George III stood up in front of Parliament and declared the American colonies in rebellion. He then went on to authorize a military response to squash the nascent American Revolution. Things had been, well, tense between Britain and its colonies for some time before the 1770s. Britain spent nearly the whole 18th century at war, and … Continue reading Rebels

John Adams: Peacefield

Previously on John Adams: John got to be president, which ended up being an exhausting, endless fight, so he more or less willingly handed the position off to Jefferson and headed home, a private citizen once more.

It’s 1803, and John’s at his bucolic home, Peacefield. Dr. Rush arrives and is happily greeted by John, who thanks him for coming as he shows him upstairs to Nabby’s room. Seems the daughter of the house is having a health crisis. Rush sits down with his new patient and John and Abigail excuse themselves, closing the door behind them. Once they’re alone, Rush asks Nabby to tell him what’s bothering her. She informs him she feels a lump in one breast that pains her. Oh, dear God. Early 19th century breast cancer?! Yikes!

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John Adams: Unnecessary War

Previously on John Adams: John discovered that the role of vice president is pointless and thankless, but luckily he’s rescued from it by being elected president.

John’s strolling down the streets of Philadelphia with Jefferson, telling his VP that the French have started capturing American ships, and even tortured the captain of one. Jefferson essentially tells him that this is all John’s fault, because of that treaty with England. John doesn’t even address that. He’s worried about being drawn into a war with their former ally or with England, when America’s still establishing itself. He wants to send Jefferson to France to see what he can do. Jefferson mildly says there are some who’ll say he’s just trying to remove his chief rival to the presidency. And by “some” I think he means “me.” Jefferson refuses to go to France. Clearly, politicians were putting their own careers ahead of the best interests of the country from its very founding. How sad.

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