Publisher: McFarland Books
Date of Publication: September 29, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-4766-9315-6 Print
ISBN: 978-1-4766-5056-2 ebook
Number of pages: 273
Word Count: 125,000.
Tagline: Drinking toasts to the American Revolution and beyond!
About the Book:
During the early years of the United States, toasts captured popular sentiments regarding people and events. Sometimes they were used to spread national ideology and partisan political views. They could even be “weaponized” against political opponents, such as during the bitter election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800. “Huzza!” Toasting a New Nation, 1760-1815 is a retelling of the familiar historical narrative, but toasts are used to tell the story of the events and people between the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
Read an Excerpt:
Israel Putnam of Connecticut, who led the rebels at Bunker Hill in June, was one of the first to be singled out for honors when the war began. The Connecticut Gazette printed toasts from a July 25 dinner in London attended by the Freeholders of Middlesex. General Putnam was toasted “and all those American Heroes, who, like men, nobly prefer death to slavery and chains.” Sons of Liberty leader Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed on the battlefield, received the following toast from the Field Officers of the Sixth Brigade in Cambridge: “Immortal Honor to that Patriot and Hero Doctor Joseph Warren, and the Brave American troops, who fought the Battle of Charlestown on the 17th of June 1775.” This list of toasts, appearing in the August 21, 1775, issue of the Boston Gazette, or Country Journal started with a toast to the Continental Congress instead of to the British monarch. The officers raised their glasses instead to all the colonies, the Stamp Act riots, Lexington and Concord, and an end to the “present unhappy Disputes.” Dr. Warren would be a consistently toasted figure into the early 1800s.
George Washington replaced George III as the main recipient of toasts, becoming the most toasted individual in the new nation. The King was now the enemy. Even English supporters of colonial rights, such as John Wilkes and Edmund Burke, were replaced by American military heroes. English support for the rights of the colonists, however, had not disappeared. The Virginia Gazette printed toasts the London Association made in October 1775. Association members wished for “axes and halters, at public expence, to all those who attempt to trample on the liberties of their fellow subjects, either in Great Britain or America,” and that “kings remember that they were made for their subjects, and not their subjects for them.”
The former British corset-maker Thomas Paine brilliantly explained why the colonists should no longer rely on the King to protect their liberties. His pamphlet, Common Sense, demanded that Americans free themselves of Britain’s control. Paine wrote that “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an Ass for a Lion.” His words reached everyone in the colonies, and so he and his work were toasted: “May the INDEPENDENT principles of COMMON SENSE be confirmed throughout the United Colonies.”
Most colonies had already taken Paine’s advice to heart and declared themselves to be independent states. Members of the Virginia convention calling for a resolution for national independence gave toasts in May: “The American independent states” and “The Grand Congress of the United States, and their respected legislatures.” Washington attended a feast at the Queen’s Head Tavern in New York City, where toasts were given to the Continental Congress and the American army, and to the memory of General Richard Montgomery, killed in the disastrous invasion of Quebec in December 1775. The final toast was “to ‘Civil and religious liberty to all mankind’—mankind, that is, except Tories.” Tories, the conservative supporters of the Crown, received extra abuse in the Patriots’ toasts: “Sore Eyes to all Tories, and a Chestnut Burr for an Eye Stone.”
Timothy Symington received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Saint Anselm College and his Master of Arts degree in American History from Adams State University. A former educator, he now contributes to the Journal of the American Revolution. “Huzza!” Toasting a New Nation, 1760-1815 is his first book.
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