John Laurens and the American Revolution

John Laurens and the American Revolution

by Gregory D. Massey


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A historical figure's attempts to secure freedom for America and her slaves Winning a reputation for reckless bravery in a succession of major battles and sieges, John Laurens distinguished himself as one of the most zealous, self-sacrificing participants in the American Revolution. A native of South Carolina and son of Henry Laurens, president of the Continental Congress, John devoted his life to securing American independence.In this comprehensive biography, Gregory D. Massey recounts the young Laurens's wartime record --a riveting tale in its own right --and finds that even more remarkable than his military escapades were his revolutionary ideas concerning the rights of African Americans.Massey relates Laurens's desperation to fight for his country once revolution had begun. A law student in England, he joined the war effort in 1777, leaving behind his English wife and an unborn child he would never see. Massey tells of the young officer's devoted service as General George Washington's aide-de-camp, interaction with prominent military and political figures, and conspicuous military efforts at Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Newport, Charleston, Savannah, and Yorktown. Massey also recounts Laurens's survival of four battle wounds and six months as a prisoner of war, his controversial diplomatic mission to France, and his close friendship with Alexander Hamilton. Laurens's death in a minor battle in August 1782 was a tragic loss for the new state and nation. Unlike other prominent southerners, Laurens believed blacks shared a similar nature with whites, and he formulated a plan to free slaves in return for their service in the Continental Army. Massey explores the personal, social, and cultural factors that prompted Laurens to diverge so radically from his peers and to raise vital questions about the role African Americans would play in the new republic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611176124
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 263,731
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Gregory D. Massey is an associate professor of history at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. A native of Wilmington, North Carolina, he holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Table of Contents

Family Line of John Laurensxi
Note on the Textxix
Chapter 1"An ornament to his country" Early Life in Charleston6
Chapter 2The Voltaire of Carolina Sojourn in Geneva October 1771-November 177425
Chapter 3"I hate the Name of King" Biding Time in England November 1774-December 177646
Chapter 4"Standing on the verge of Eternity" The War in America January-December 177770
Chapter 5"Those dear ragged Continentals" Winter at Valley Forge December 1777-June 177886
Chapter 6"That bravery which becomes freemen" The 1778 Campaign June-December 1778107
Chapter 7"White Pride & Avarice" The Limits of Independence in the South Carolina Low Country January-December 1779128
Chapter 8"The greatest and most humiliating misfortune of my life" The Fall of Charleston January-December 1780154
Chapter 9"His inexperience in public affairs" Special Minister to France December 1780-September 1781173
Chapter 10"The single voice of reason" Military Triumph and Political Defeat September 1781-February 1782195
Chapter 11"The Campaign is become perfectly insipid" The South Carolina Low Country February-August 1782212
Chapter 12"The loss is remediless" The Family of John Laurens, 1782-1860228

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