Academic journal article The Historian

Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the War of American Independence

Academic journal article The Historian

Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the War of American Independence

Article excerpt

Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the War of American Independence. By George C. Daughan. (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. Pp. 432. $28.95.)

The Hudson River was the epicenter of the American War of Independence and is thus rightly a subject for historical study. General George Washington wrote in 1783 that Garrison West Point on the Hudson was "the key of America." In a book entitled Revolution on the Hudson, one would expect that New York City and the Hudson River valley would be the central focus of the narrative. Alas, George C. Daughan has instead disguised a competent review of the American Revolution for the general reader in a study purportedly centered on the Hudson; straying from New York, he, for example, covers the war in Rhode Island, the South, and the Caribbean. Instead of fleshing out the major events in the Hudson River valley, from the battles of White Plains, Saratoga, and Stony Point to the building of Fortress West Point in the context of the larger war, Daughan chose to touch on them as incidental to the overall story of the Revolution itself. He thus passed up the opportunity to illuminate the political and military milestones in New York that contributed to the ultimate American victory against the British Empire. Nevertheless, even as he explores other campaigns, New York and the Hudson continue to pop up as the central seat of the war.

Using printed sources, Daughan argues a provocative thesis: "the Hudson-Champlain fantasy made a major contribution to frustrating His Majesty's quest to keep the American colonies within the empire" and "thus became, instead, his undoing" (6, 348). …

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