As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution

As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution

As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution

As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution


In the dramatic few years when colonial Americans were galvanized to resist British rule, perhaps nothing did more to foment anti-British sentiment than the armed occupation of Boston. As If an Enemy's Country is Richard Archer's gripping narrative of those critical months between October 1, 1768 and the winter of 1770 when Boston was an occupied town.

Bringing colonial Boston to life, Archer deftly moves between the governor's mansion and cobblestoned back-alleys as he traces the origins of the colonists' conflict with Britain. He reveals the maneuvering of colonial political leaders such as Governor Francis Bernard, Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and James Otis Jr. as they responded to London's new policies, and he evokes the outrage many Bostonians felt towards Parliament and its local representatives.

Archer captures the popular mobilization under the leadership of John Hancock and Samuel Adams that met the oppressive imperial measures--most notably the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act--with demonstrations, Liberty Trees, violence, and non-importation agreements. When the British government decided to garrison Boston with troops, it posed a shocking challenge to the people of Massachusetts. The city was flooded with troops; almost immediately, tempers flared and violent conflicts broke out. Archer's vivid tale culminates in the swirling tragedy of the Boston Massacre and its aftermath, including the trial and exoneration of the British troops involved.

A thrilling and original work of history, As If an Enemy's Country tells the riveting story of what made the Boston townspeople, and with them other colonists, turn toward revolution.


Ambivalence about military power is not new to our era. Englishspeaking people in the eighteenth century supported their military during wartime. That was fortunate, for the British were engaged in combat against the French and their allies throughout a substantial part of the Northern Hemisphere for much of the 1700s. Expanding the British Empire and protecting existing territory seemed a worthy use of armed might. Officers chose (and purchased) military careers, soldiers and sailors enlisted when other options were worse or on occasion were impressed to service against their will, and the general citizenry reluctantly paid taxes, grateful that their involvement went no further.

A standing army during peacetime, on the other hand, was something altogether different. British people had long believed that, rather than protecting the population and promoting imperial interests, its purpose was to enforce the will of those in power. It was a threat to basic British rights. To ensure that the military would be kept in check, Parliament authorized the army for only twelve months at a time by annually renewing the Mutiny Act, a bill that regulated mutinies and desertions and, most important, established the means for quartering and supplying troops, without which an army could not exist. On March 24, 1765, Parliament ominously extended the provisions of the Mutiny Act to its American colonies with the creation of the Quartering Act. Although its apparent rationale was to provision regiments and smaller units that temporarily dwelled in towns as they moved from one place to another, colonists felt threatened by the possibility of standing armies placed in their midst. And they would be proved right.

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