The American Revolution forever shaped the future of North America, creating new political borders and initiating an age of revolution on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Central to this was an eight-year-long war of independence, drawing in imperial powers from across the Atlantic, Native American nations from across the continent, and which expanded across the globe. Fort Ticonderoga and its collections are central to the Revolutionary War and its lasting legacy.
Fort Ticonderoga will engage the commemoration of this monumental event over the coming years through five key themes:
- Power of Place
- Subjects, Citizens, Service
- Revolutionary Possibilities
- Manufacturing Independence
- Shaping Nations, Forging Identities
Power of Place
The American Revolution and the War of Independence played out across a vast geography. The Revolution made an impact in all corners of the world, far from political centers or even the combatant nations. But the specific history and geography of places in North America like Ticonderoga channeled and condensed this revolutionary human activity. This concentrated people, actions, and events in unique ways. Geography, topography, and hydrology shaped the Revolutionary struggle in profound ways that gave places far from population centers profound significance for political and military events that had a lasting effect on individuals and nations and whose remains can still be traced across the land to this day.
Subjects, Citizens, Service
The Revolutionary War was the longest armed conflict in American history until the 20th century and war shaped all the nations involved. Existing armies expanded and new armies sprung into being, calling thousands directly into military service. People on both sides of the Atlantic made decisions when, and if, to enter the military, and many millions of others had loved ones, friends, or family members who served on all sides of the conflict. Terms of service varied based on culture and politics and evolved during the war in ways that shaped how nations and individuals understood and interacted with military service in ways that still have meaning today.
American Independence was not a foregone conclusion. Recovering the contingency of the American Revolution helps to underscore its profound significance. The future hung in the balance, affected by everything from human actions to natural events. The charged atmosphere of the period from 1774 to 1783 made anything possible. Objects and Ideas from Europe were transformed through contact with those from the complex and diverse American colonial world. From the personal to the national, the political and military situation provided a vast new set of opportunities, from individual freedom to political independence. People from all nations, races, genders, and occupations made choices that impacted their own lives and the future of the continent and the world.
Waging a War of Independence, or quashing a colonial rebellion, required material. Arms, ammunition, clothing, provisions, and supplies to make war in the 18th century involved dense networks of people across the globe, often far from the battle lines. Technological developments, scientific discoveries, and manufacturing systems stretching back a century before the Revolution impacted the ability of armies to the field. Exploring the objects of war: how they were made, where they were made, and who made them helps deepen our understanding of the war’s scope and repercussions locally, and globally.
Shaping Nations, Forging Identities
The American Revolution created the United States of America, but the Revolution shaped even a more diverse range of nations, communities, and individuals who faced its decisions and dilemmas, triumphs, and disappointments. The Revolutionary War prompted groups and individuals to expand, renew, or redefine their identity and allegiance, leading to seismic shifts in the cultural landscape and history of North America. The United States was imposed onto top of pre-existing Native American nations, who faced decisions to resist or coexist. American loyalists and enslaved individuals made choices to submit, leave, or fight the new nation, and British North America was reshaped through the creation of the United States. The experience of the Revolution also impacted and inspired revolutions and wars of independence much further afield in the following decades, in France, Haiti, and Latin America, initiating a groundbreaking historical era.