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Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence

This presentation, based on his book Thirteen Clocks: How Race Unified the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence, argues that we have underestimated how important stories about race were to the project of American independence. As soon as the shooting started that became the Revolutionary War, Patriot leaders, including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, began promoting stories about how the British were trying to incite enslaved African Americans and Native peoples against the “common cause.” This talk will focus on the fifteen months between Lexington and the Declaration, showing how widespread and central these stories were to making the thirteen colonies decide to leave the British empire together and unify as one nation.

Date & Time

Monday
Dec. 20, 2021
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET

Location

Zoom Webinar

Overview

This presentation, based on his book Thirteen Clocks: How Race Unified the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence, argues that we have underestimated how important stories about race were to the project of American independence. As soon as the shooting started that became the Revolutionary War, Patriot leaders, including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, began promoting stories about how the British were trying to incite enslaved African Americans and Native peoples against the “common cause.” This talk will focus on the fifteen months between Lexington and the Declaration, showing how widespread and central these stories were to making the thirteen colonies decide to leave the British empire together and unify as one nation. 

Robert Parkinson is associate professor of history at Binghamton University, and the author of the prize-winning The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution (2016). He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia, and has held fellowships at the Omohundro Institute for Early American History & Culture and the C.V. Starr Center. His current book project, The Heart of American Darkness, is a study of the causes and consequences the gruesome murder of nine Natives on the banks of the Ohio River in 1774.  

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University and the National History Center) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. This session is co-sponsored by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and co-chaired by Catherine E. Kelly of the Omohundro Institute. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partners (the George Washington University History Department and the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest) for their continued support.

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