Nineteenth Annual Seminar on the American Revolution
This annual premier conference focused on the military, political, social, and material culture of the American Revolution regularly features scholars from across North America and beyond.
Attendees can participate in person or join the conference from home via the Fort Ticonderoga Center for Digital History.
(subject to change)
Friday, September 22, 2023
8 am-4 pm “Forts, Raids, Battles and Mayhem: The Schoharie Valley, 1775-1780”—Fort Ticonderoga and America’s History, LLC will again partner to offer a one-day Revolutionary War bus tour led by Jeff O’Conner and Bruce Venter. Jeff is the author of The Old Stone Fort: Guardian of Schoharie County History Since 1772 and an experienced tour guide. A complete tour description is on the America’s History website. This is an optional bus tour and the cost is $145 per person (includes lunch, materials, and refreshments.) To register, call 703-785-4373 or visit www.AmericasHistoryLLC.com.
6-7 pm Opening Reception—Join seminar faculty and museum staff at an opening reception in the Mars Education Center with light refreshments and a cash bar (included in the registration fee, but reservations are required).
7-7:45 pm Highlights from the Robert Nittolo Collection—Fort Ticonderoga Curator Dr. Matthew Keagle shares highlights from the Robert Nittolo Collection related to the War for American Independence.
Saturday, September 23, 2023
9 am Welcome—Beth Hill, President and CEO, Fort Ticonderoga.
9:15-9:45 am “The Black Servants of Major-General Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette”— How did Lafayette go from viewing Black enslaved people as chattel property, to becoming one of the leading abolitionist voices of his era? This presentation examines how Lafayette’s abolitionist ideology was shaped by the Black Patriots he encountered—including eight known Black servants hired out to him. Justin B. Clement is the Historic Site Supervisor of Pottsgrove Manor, and author of Patriots of African Descent at the Valley Forge Encampment of 1777–1778: A Historic Resource Study.
10-10:30 am In the Wake of the British Retreat: Sir Guy Carleton’s Book of Negroes and the Enslaved Population of Rhode Island—British Commander-in-Chief Sir Guy Carleton oversaw the retreat from North America, during which he recorded in his Book of Negroes the age, gender, and reported home locations of the enslaved people owned by departing Loyalists. This paper analyzes these data, with special attention to Rhode Island’s entries, to make broader inferences about the practice of slavery prior to the American Revolution. With her advisor, Catherine W. Zipf, Isabelle J. Courtney is an interpreter for Coggeshall Farm Museum and Linden Place, and a researcher for the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society.
10:45-11:15 am “Naked and Torn by the Grapeshot”: Fort Mercer and the history, archaeology, and public perceptions of a mass burial space at Red Bank Battlefield Park—During the summer of 2022, as part of a public archaeology program at Red Bank Battlefield Park in Gloucester County, New Jersey, a mass burial space was discovered, thought to contain the remains of Hessian soldiers who lost their lives in the attack on Fort Mercer, October 22, 1777. A project team of archaeologists, forensic scientists, historians, county employees, volunteers, and university students worked tirelessly to investigate the site. The analyses of artifacts and human remains are ongoing. Dr. Jen Janofsky is the Giordano Fellow in Public History at Rowan University and Director of Red Bank Battlefield Park. Wade P. Catts is a Registered Professional Archaeologist, President of South River Heritage Consulting, and an adjunct professor at Rowan University.
11:30 am-1:15 pm Lunch Break (Box lunch from America’s Fort Café included).
12:30-1 pm Book Signing at the Museum Store in the Log House.
1:30-2:30 pm Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War — Between 1776 and 1783, Great Britain hired more than thirty thousand German soldiers to fight in its war against the American rebels. Collectively known as Hessians, the troops and accompanying civilians, including hundreds of women and children, spent extended periods of time in locations as dispersed and varied as Canada in the North and West Florida in the South. This presentation highlights some of the experiences of these participants in a war on a distant continent against a people that had done them no harm. Dr. Friederike Baer is an Associate Professor of History and Division Head for Arts and Humanities at Penn State Abington College. She is the author of Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War (Oxford University Press, 2022).
2:45-3:15 pm The Customs and Temper of Americans? Germans and the Continental Coalition, 1775–1776—When the armed rebellion broke out against Britain in 1775, its leaders from New England to the Carolinas wanted to incorporate a variety of colonists into their movement. One of the largest segments of the colonial population was German-speaking people. Local leaders across the colonies and the rebellion’s central leadership in the Continental Congress reached out to German colonists in a variety of ways, mainly trying to include them in diplomatic efforts directed at Native Americans, and in newly-raised bodies of soldiers, from local militias to the regular Continental Army. Jack Weaver is a Ph.D. candidate studying Colonial and Revolutionary North America at West Virginia University, and his dissertation examines the intersection of violence, material culture, and Early American identity.
4-5 pm Fort Ticonderoga Museum, King’s Garden, and Museum Store open.
5 pm Dinner at America’s Fort Café (pre-registration only).
Sunday, September 24, 2023
9-9:30 am Was there an internal Patriot Coup in Massachusetts beginning April 20, 1775?—In the months leading up to the outbreak of fighting at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts patriots had established a provisional government and committed to solely defensive action in the event of military escalation—in accordance with long-standing republican principles. This presentation explores the extent to which leaders disregarded these restrictions in the immediate aftermath of April 19, 1775. Dr. Timothy Leech is an independent historian working on a book about the state-formation implications surrounding the establishment of the Continental Army. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 2017.
9:45-10:15 am Fighting Rebellion from America to Jamaica: The Experience of Alexander Lindsay, Lord Balcarres— As major in command of Burgoyne’s light infantry during the Saratoga campaign of 1777, Lord Balcarres saw intensive combat before undergoing captivity with the surrendered “Convention Army.” In 1795, while governor of the West Indian colony of Jamaica, Major-General Balcarres was once again called upon to curb insurrection after the island’s “Maroons”—the freed descendants of escaped slaves—rebelled against British rule. This presentation argues that Balcarres’s controversial handling of the fiercely-contested Maroon War was conditioned by his earlier experiences during the American Revolution. Dr. Stephen Brumwell is an award-winning independent scholar and author living in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
10:30-11:00 am The Rise, Disgrace, and Recovery of Timothy Bedel—New Hampshire’s Timothy Bedel emerged as a multi-talented leader early in the Revolutionary War, but by the summer of 1776, he was dishonorably cashiered from the army after a command debacle in Canada. This presentation explores Bedel’s progress and struggles in the volatile military and political context of the war in the north. Mark R. Anderson is an independent historian whose works include The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America’s War of Liberation in Canada, 1774-1776, and Down the Warpath to the Cedars: Indians’ First Battles in the Revolution.
11:15-11:45 am New Views of Fort Ticonderoga and Burgoyne’s Campaign—In 1776 and 1777, a British soldier named Roger Lamb served in the two major British campaigns that focused on Fort Ticonderoga. He published writings on his service that are well-known, but only recently a volume of manuscript writings have come to light, along with a series of illustrations. This presentation will show Lamb’s writings on the campaign that he did not include in his books, and his fanciful pictures illustrating his campaigns. Don N. Hagist is managing editor of the Journal of the American Revolution and has published several books on British soldiers in the American Revolution.
12:00 pm Lunch (Box lunch from America’s Fort Café included).
Fort Ticonderoga offers teacher scholarships for teachers who are first-time attendees at the Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution. Teachers can apply for a scholarship to attend in-person or virtually through the Fort Ticonderoga Center for Digital History.
In-person scholarships include waiving the registration fee, two box lunches, and an off-site dinner Saturday evening with other scholarship winners and the faculty and staff of the Seminar.
Virtual scholarships waive the registration fee and provide virtual access to all daytime sessions on Saturday and Sunday of the Seminar.
Applications are due August 15, 2023. Complete the application here.