In the book, “The Minutemen and Their World” by Robert A. Gross, a closer look is taken at the American Revolution by examining the lives of the people that live in Concord, Massachusetts. By researching and interpreting diaries, court records, colony records, genealogies, and private papers Gross begins to describe a society before, during, and after the American Revolution. He furthermore succeeds in creating a well-written historical text that is easy to read, interpret, and enjoy. It can be thought that Gross accomplishes this by giving the reader a better sense of the life of a person during the American Revolution. Also, the author presents the fact that not only were the people of Concord undergoing a Revolution to fight for their independence, but they were also undergoing social, economic, agricultural, and religious revolutions.
Before the Revolution, Concordians were living in their own world, figuratively and literally speaking. The society of Concord was well developed and contained problems locally. These problems interfered with the everyday social and economic atmosphere. For instance, relationships between parents and their children were deteriorating. Also, the soil was being used up because of over farming which led to the problem of too man sons and not enough land to be divided up between them. The generation gap between social classes was also widening and political offices were held by an elite few which were passed down almost as a legacy through families.
These local problems were momentarily put on hold with the emergence of the aspect of a Revolution. The unity required to overcome the enslavement by the British Crown was much more important to the people of Concord than their somewhat meager problems and bickering. The main aspect behind the people’s will to remain free was that they wished to retain and protect their traditional life, however by fighting to protect that life, Gross would point out that the Concordians in effect opened themselves to change.
The changes the Revolution had on the people of Concord were the building blocks of our democratic society as we know it today. By joining together to overthrow the crown the people of Concord overcame the “barriers of residence and wealth”(61). Men in all ranks of the society wanted to protect their freedom, therefore after the Revolution the strict rules concerning the elitist model of government in Concord rarely existed. Gross points out that after the Revolution the “newly elected delegate” was sent a “strict set of rigid rules” for him to follow “in court”(163). With new emphasis placed on the people and their rights, politics was rarely about religious status anymore but more about equal representation.
Also, after the revolution, Gross point out that by 1790 there are no slaves in Massachusetts. With the Concordians fighting for their freedom in the Revolution, it would be typical for the Concordians to see enslavement of any persons as hypocritical, when that is the very thing they were fighting against. Agriculture also was stabilized by reform and intensive farming. This resulted in a richer social life and landscape. Generally, the contest between generations was abated and sons continued with their families instead of moving away. All in all, a richer economic and social attitude ensued the people of Concord after the Revolution, however not right away.
It can be thought that with the closer look at Concord, Gross means to represent Concord as a model of a normal colonial town during the Revolution. The characters in the book give the reader a sense of why the people in this town chose to revolt. By representing the people of Concord and their reasons to fight, Gross effectively represents all of the colonies who fought in the Revolution; As Gross puts it in his book, “The Concord fight was an incident in a wider war.”