People's History, Founding Myths, and the American Revolution


homepage bio speaking contact



online articles
online interviews
teaching tools
take a quiz
  All answers can be found in People’s History of the American Revolution, The First American Revolution, or Founding Myths. If you do not score well, don’t feel bad. Try the quiz on your teacher or professor or someone who professes greater knowledge, and see how they fare. The mythologies of the Revolution have been imbedded into generation after generation, and it will take time to peel them back.

Here are the answers:

1. Who first said that Samuel Adams triggered the American Revolution by stirring up the Boston “mob”?
A. John Adams, Samuel’s cousin
B. Samuel Adams himself
C. Boston’s Tories
D. Boston’s patriots
E. The Daughters of the American Revolution

C. How strange that the Samuel Adams legend, which we now deem patriotic, comes from Boston’s Tories, who were trying to discredit their political opponent. See Founding Myths, chapter 3.

2. Who wrote the speech that ended with “Give me liberty, or give me death!”?
A. Samuel Adams, 1773
B. Patrick Henry, 1775
C. Nathan Hale, 1776
D. Tom Paine, 1776
E. William Wirt, 1817

E. William Wirt wrote the speech we now attribute to Patrick Henry 42 years later, 18 years after Henry himself had died. See Founding Myths, chapter 8.

3. Who spread the word that the British were headed toward Lexington and Concord?
A. Paul Revere, who saw two lanterns in the Old North Church
B. Paul Revere and William Dawes, who alerted the people of Concord
C. Samuel Adams, who knew in advance the British were on their way
D. Sybil Ludington, a female messenger who passed through the British guard undetected
E. Joseph Warren and hundreds of others, who had been expecting the event

E. Revere never saw the lanterns, nor did he reach Concord that night. See Founding Myths, chapter 1.

4. During the time of the Revolutionary War, who was Boston’s most honored patriot?
A. Paul Revere
B. Joseph Warren
C. Samuel Adams
D. John Adams
E. Abigail Adams

B. Dr. Warren, the Revolutionary activist who was killed during the Battle of Bunker Hill, became the first and greatest martyr of the American Revolution. See Founding Myths, chapter 1 and 3.

5. When and where did patriots first depose British-appointed officials?
A. Boston, December 16, 1773
B. Great Barrington, Massachusetts, August 16, 1774
C. Richmond, Virginia, March 23, 1775
D. Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775
E. Philadelphia, July 4, 1776

B. 1,500 people shut down the government at Great Barrington. In the weeks to follow, thousands and thousands of others followed by toppling British authority in all of Massachusetts outside of Boston. See First American Revolution, chapters 3 and 4, and Founding Myths, chapter 4.

6. The first British fort seized by the patriots in the American Revolution was
A. Fort William and Mary, 1774
B. Fort Ticonderoga, 1775
C. Fort Quebec, 1776
D. Fort Washington, 1776
E. Fort Sumpter, 1861

A. Four months before his ride to Lexington, Paul Revere rode to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to warn patriots there that the British were intending to re-enforce Fort William and Mary. Patriots seized the fort and confiscated all the weapons. See First American Revolution, chapter 6, and Founding Myths, chapter 4.

7. Where was the patriots’ resistance so strong that the British dared not attack?
A. New York City
B. Philadelphia
C. Worcester, Massachusetts
D. Salem, Massachusetts
E. Concord, Massachusetts

C. The British did indeed attack the other four locations, but spies warned General Gage that his soldiers would be crushed in Worcester, where patriots had seized control of the government and were stockpiling weapons. See First American Revolution, chapter 6, and Founding Myths, chapter 4.

8. Who wrote that “all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights”?
A. Samuel Adams, December, 1773
B. Patrick Henry, March, 1775
C. Thomas Paine, January, 1776
D. George Mason, June, 1776
E. Thomas Jefferson, July, 1776

D. George Mason penned these words while Jefferson was starting to write the Declaration of Independence, which echoed Mason closely. See Founding Myths, chapter 6.

9. Which body of patriots first suggested that the patriots set up their own government, without British approval?
A. Boston Town Meeting, December, 1773
B. Virginia House of Burgesses, June, 1774
C. Worcester Town Meeting, October, 1774
D. First Continental Congress, November, 1774
E. Second Continental Congress, July, 1776

C. Exactly 21 months before Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, patriots in Worcester declared the “dissolution” of the old government and announced that they were ready to create “from the ashes of the Phenix a new form … wherein all officers shall be dependent on the suffrages of the people.” See First American Revolution, chapter 5, and Founding Myths, chapter 4.

10. The Declaration of Independence was
A. Signed by all members of the Continental Congress who were present on July 4, 1776.
B. Signed by all members of the Continental Congress who were present on August 2, 1776.
C. Signed by fourteen members of the Continental Congress who were not present on July 4, 1776.
D. Approved by thirteen states on July 2, 1776.
E. Approved by thirteen states on July 4, 1776.

C. Only 12 states voted for Independence on July 2 and approved the Declaration on July 4. The “signing” was after-the-fact, starting on August 2, continuing to the next year, and including several congressmen who had not even been elected on July 4. See Founding Myths, Conclusion.

11. Mary Hayes, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania
A. Carried water in a pitcher to thirsty soldiers at the Battle of Monmouth.
B. Took her husband’s place at a cannon at the Battle of Monmouth.
C. Was given a medal by George Washington.
D. All of the above.
E. Was exhumed from her grave a century after the Battle of Monmouth and declared to be “Molly Pitcher.”

E. “Molly Pitcher” is a compete fabrication, a composite of folkloric traditions. She did not acquire her name until 70 years later, and the legend did not fix on a historic individual until 100 years after-the-fact. See Founding Myths, chapter 2.

12.The most famous female patriot at the time of the American Revolution was
A. Mary Hayes, the beloved “Molly Pitcher.”
B. Margaret Corbin, the celebrated “Captain Molly.”
C. Deborah Sampson, female soldier
D. Abigail Adams, who asked her husband John to “Remember the Ladies.”
E. Martha Washington, wife of George Washington

E. Hayes and Corbin were “camp followers,” uncelebrated during their lifetimes. Sampson became a minor celebrity in the 1790s, because of her lecture tour. Adams’s private words to her husband were not known publicly, and they would not have been celebrated in any case. Martha Washington, of course, achieved some renown because of her husband. See Founding Myths, chapter 2, and People’s History, chapter 3.

13.The coldest winter during the Revolutionary War (and for 400 years of recorded on the East Coast of the United States) was
A. 1775-1776 (the siege of Boston)
B. 1776-1777 (crossing the Delaware)
C. 1777-1778 (winter camp at Valley Forge)
D. 1779-1780 (winter camp at Morristown)
E. 1781-1782 (Washington’s headquarters at White Plains)

D. The winter at Valley Forge, associated in legend with cold weather, was milder than the historic average. During the “Hard Winter” of 1779-1780, the entire New York harbor froze solid, as did parts of the Chesapeake and saltwater bays as far south as North Carolina. See Founding Myths, chapter 5.

14. At Valley Forge, soldiers satisfied their hunger by
A. Praying for George Washington
B. Training with Baron Von Steuben
C. Receiving supplies from the French
D. Pillaging from local farmers
E. Petitioning Congress for more food

D. Unless they fended for themselves, more soldiers would have perished. Praying, petitioning, and training did not feed bellies, and in the dead of winter the French had not yet come on board. See Founding Myths, chapter 5, and People’s History, chapter 2.

15. “Tarleton’s Quarter” was a
A. Brothel at Valley Forge
B. Continental coin issued briefly in 1780, which quickly devalued
C. Patriots’ rallying cry
D. British command post in New York City
E. Notorious British prison in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina

C. Revenge fed on itself. Alleging that the British officer, Banastre Tarleton, had denied quarter to surrendering Americans, the patriots responded with similar acts of brutality. See Founding Myths, chapter 11 and People’s History, chapters 2 and 4.

16. What were you most likely to do if you were drafted into the Continental Army and you didn’t want to fight?
A. Hire a substitute, if you could afford it
B. Flee to Canada
C. Get a religious exemption from your minister
D. Organize a draft resisters’ league
E. You had to serve anyway, or you’d get tarred and feathered

A. A rich draftee could buy his way out by hiring a poor man or teenage boy to take his place. See Founding Myths, chapter 5, and People’s History, chapter 2.

17. Of the soldiers who died in the American Revolution, most perished
A. In battle
B. In prison
C. While marching
D. From disease
E. At Valley Forge

D. Diseases ran rampant. Although no exact numbers can be had, Military historian Howard Peckham concludes that about 10,000 patriot soldiers succumbed to disease, 7,000 perished in battle, and 8,500 died in prison. See People’s History, chapter 2.

18. As a percent of the nation’s population at the time, there were more American deaths in the Revolutionary War than in any other war except
A. War of 1812
B. Civil War
C. World War I
D. World War II
E. Vietnam War

B. If the same percent died today, that would be about 2,500,000. No twentieth century war came close. See People’s History, chapter 2.

19. Which of these statements is not true of Loyalists in the American Revolution
A. They accounted for one-third of the population.
B. Many poor Loyalists sided with the Crown in order to oppose rich patriots.
C. Loyalists, unaided by British soldiers, fought many battles against patriots in the South.
D. 80,000 – 100,000 Loyalists emigrated from the United States during or after the war.
E. Suspected Loyalists were hung by their thumbs from a walnut tree in Judge Lynch’s yard until they shouted “liberty forever!”

A. The “one-third” estimate comes from taking statements by John Adams totally out of context. There are no reasonable estimates, and the one-third figure is totally implausible. See Founding Myths, chapter 7, and People’s History, chapter 4.

20. Dunkers and Schwenkfelders were
A. Religious pacifistic sects
B. Hessian serfs forced to fight in the American Revolution
C. Artillery adapted for the siege of forts
D. Secret fraternal organizations, which included many patriot leaders
E. Secret “cells” of the Committees of Correspondence

A. Along with Quakers, Shakers, Moravians, Mennonites, and Amish, these people did not wish to join either side. Pacifistic sects accounted for about 80,000 people — one in every thirty free Americans. See People’s History, chapter 4.

21. In terms of expense, manpower, and planning, the largest American offensive in 1779 was
A. George Roger Clark’s conquest of the West
B. General Sullivan’s campaign against Iroquois farms and villages
C. General Greene’s march through the South
D. Washington’s crossing of the Delaware
E. The Conquest of Quebec

B. Sullivan’s genocidal campaign is not discussed in current textbooks, while the much smaller Clark expedition is highly touted by all. See Founding Myths, chapter 13, and People’s History, chapter 5.

22. Which of the following sided with white patriots in the Revolutionary War?
A. Senecas
B. Mohawks
C. Mingos
D. Catawbas
E. Chickasaws

D. The American Revolution was the largest Indian war in the history of the United States. Most Indian nations sided with the British, but some, like the Catawbas, were already surrounded by white Americans and sided with the patriots. See Founding Myths, chapter 13 and People’s History, chapter 5.

23. American patriots told the Delaware Indians that if they fought against the British, they could expect to
A. Receive gold coins for each member of the tribe
B. Have a state named after them
C. Join the union as a fourteenth state
D. Keep their land for the next ten years
E. Keep their land forever

C. At Fort Pitt in 1778, to woo the Delaware to their side, American delegates suggested that Indians might be allowed “to form a state whereof the Delaware nation shall be the head, and have a representation in Congress.” See People’s History, chapter 5.

24. During the American Revolution, twenty of George Washington’s slaves left Mount Vernon
A. To fight in the Continental Army
B. To fight in the Virginia Militia
C. To seek freedom with the British
D. To seek freedom with the French
E. Because they were freed by Martha Washington

C. Actual names are listed in Washington’s papers: “Gunner, a man about 45 years old; valuable, a Brick maker.” “Tom, a man about 20 years old, stout and Healthy.” “Esther, a woman about 18 years old.” Etc. See Founding Myths, chapter 10, and People’s History, chapter 6.

25. Which nation was not at war with Britain during the American Revolution?
A. United States
B. France
C. Spain
D. Holland
E. Russia

E. All the rest were allied against Britain, and even Russia was about to join the allies. This helps explain Britain’s reluctance to pursue the war on the North American continent. See Founding Myths, chapter 12.

26. At which location was Britain not at war with a foreign power when the Americans won the Battle of Yorktown?
A. West Indies
B. Iraq
C. Gibraltar
D. Cape of Good Hope
E. India

B. British involvement in the future Iraq would come later. Toward the end of the American War for Independence, however, Britain was engaged in warfare on all these other fronts. This too helps explain Britain’s reluctance to pursue the war on the North American continent. See Founding Myths, chapter 12.

27. After Cornwallis’s surrender of 7,000 soldiers at Yorktown, how many of the King’s troops remained stationed in British-controlled American posts, ready for battle?
A. None — the war was over
B. 3,000
C. 7,000
D. 12,000
E. 47,000

E. This was a far greater force than that lost at Yorktown. Only by taking into account the global context (see previous two questions) can we understand why these troops were not deployed in further offensives against the Americans. See Founding Myths, chapter 12.

28. After Yorktown, who insisted that the war was not yet over?
A. Lord North and Lord Rockingham
B. Benedict Arnold and Major Andre
C. Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson
D. George Washington and King George III
E. Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams

D. After Yorktown, King George said: “I have no doubt when men are a little recovered of the shock felt by the bad news, they will find the necessity of carrying on the war.” Washington urged Congress to continue its “preparation for military operations” — a failure to continue fighting, he warned, would “expose us to the most disgracefull Disasters.” At the time, with the Continental Army still outnumbered by 47,000 enemy troops stationed nearby, Americans could not conclude that the war was automatically over. See Founding Myths, chapter 12.

top of page