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This study of Jonathan Sewall, an aristocratic Boston Loyalist, tells the compelling story of the passions and paradoxes of a country in the throes of the Revolution.
Born into a bankrupt branch of a prominent Massachusetts family in 1728, Sewall was educated at Harvard and, after a brief stint teaching school, went into law. He developed a friendship with John Adams that survived the Revolutionary War personally but not politically.
He thrived in his chosen profession taking up the art of the publicist in the service of his King. He wrote pamphlets, open letters, and newspapers columns under the pseudonyms of "Philanthrop" and "Philalethes."
Sewell sought to avoid confrontation with his revolutionary friends and while remaining independent in his appointed posts, but was trapped in the political hierarch of colonial Massachusetts. Unnerved by the “Boston Massacre”, Sewall retired to the country in order to avoid prosecuting the British soldiers involved. When the Revolution began in earnest, Sewall took refuge in England, confident that a quick British victory would return him to Massachusetts.
The last twenty years of his life were a sustained tragedy of being snubbed by the English, exhausted finances and declining physical and mental health.
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Carol Berkin is Professor of History at Baruch College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York where she teaches American Colonial and Revolutionary History and Women's History. As her dissertation, this study of Jonathan Sewall received the Columbia University Bancroft Award. Other books include Women, War and Revolution, First Generations: Women in Colonial America, and Women's Voices/Women's Lives: Documents in Early American History.
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