Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution

Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution

Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution

Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution

Synopsis

Rarely in American history has a political figure been so pilloried and despised as Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of Massachusetts and an ardent loyalist of the Crown in the days leading up to the American revolution. In this narrative and analytic life of Hutchinson, the first since Bernard Bailyn's Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography a quarter century ago, Andrew Stephen Walmsley traces Hutchinson's decline from well- respected member of Boston's governing class to America's leading object of revolutionary animus. Walmsley argues that Hutchinson, rather than simply a victim of his inability to understand the passions associated with a revolutionary movement, was in fact defeated in a classic political and personal struggle for power. No mere sycophant for the British, Hutchinson was keenly aware of how much he had to lose if revolutionary forces prevailed, which partially explains his evolution from near- Whig to intransigent loyalist. His consequent vilification became a vehicle through which the growing patriot movement sought to achieve legitimacy. An entertaining and thought-provoking view of revolutionary events from the perspective of the losing side, Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution tells the story of the American Revolution through the prism of one of its most famous detractors.

Excerpt

Early on Wednesday morning, June 1, 1774, Governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts embarked on the first leg of his long journey into permanent political exile. On that warm day in early summer he shook hands and exchanged leisurely farewell pleasantries with his friends and neighbors. He accepted their best wishes for the future and, with his usual restrained and gracious gentility, reassured them that he would soon return. From his comfortable country home at Milton he strolled slowly in the direction of Dorchester Neck, gradually leaving behind “the shady walks, the pleasant groves that adorn this villa.” While his carriage followed he deliberately lingered perhaps to enjoy once again the warm air and green pastures of the New England countryside for which he harbored such a deep attachment. Finally, he ascended into his carriage, waved a last farewell to the morning crowd, and urged his driver to accelerate toward the dock at Dorchester Point. Here a boat waited to transport him to Captain Callahan’s sturdy ship the Minerva that would carry him across the Atlantic to England.

The aging governor departed with great reluctance. He did not relish this obligation to travel to England to defend himself. He believed that he had done everything in his power to prevent the crisis which now confronted him. Nevertheless, political turmoil gripped the colony he now left in his wake. the Massachusetts General Court had formally petitioned for . . .

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