Each year through 2026, the America250PADelco Committee will select a title connected to the history of the Declaration of Independence and American Revolution to be that year’s Revolutionary Reads Community Read.

For 2023, the committee has chosen Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the 
American West, 1765-1776 by Patrick Spero.
From the book jacket:
The untold story of the “Black Boys,” a rebellion on the American frontier in 1765 that sparked the American Revolution.

In 1763, the Seven Years’ War ended in a spectacular victory for the British. The French army agreed to leave North America, but many Native Americans, fearing that the British Empire would expand onto their lands and conquer them, refused to lay down their weapons. Under the leadership of a shrewd Ottawa warrior named Pontiac, they kept fighting for their freedom, capturing several British forts and devastating many of the westernmost colonial settlements. The British, battered from the costly war, needed to stop the violent attacks on their borderlands. Peace with Pontiac was their only option—if they could convince him to negotiate.

Enter George Croghan, a wily trader-turned-diplomat with close ties to Native Americans. Under the wary eye of the British commander-in-chief, Croghan organized one of the largest peace offerings ever assembled and began a daring voyage into the interior of North America in search of Pontiac.

Meanwhile, a ragtag group of frontiersmen set about stopping this peace deal in its tracks. Furious at the Empire for capitulating to Native groups, whom they considered their sworn enemies, and suspicious of Croghan’s intentions, these colonists turned Native American tactics of warfare on the British Empire. Dressing as Native Americans and smearing their faces in charcoal, these frontiersmen, known as the Black Boys, launched targeted assaults to destroy Croghan’s peace offering before it could be delivered.

The outcome of these interwoven struggles would determine whose independence would prevail on the American frontier—whether freedom would be defined by the British, Native Americans, or colonial settlers.

Drawing on largely forgotten manuscript sources from archives across North America, Patrick Spero recasts the familiar narrative of the American Revolution, moving the action from the Eastern Seaboard to the treacherous western frontier. In spellbinding detail, Frontier Rebels reveals an often-overlooked truth: the West played a crucial role in igniting the flame of American independence.
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Patrick Spero, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the George Washington Presidential Library housed within the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. Prior to his current role, he served as Librarian and Director of the Library & Museum of the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia.

Spero is the author of Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania, Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West, and the forthcoming Botany and Betrayal: Andre Michaux, Thomas Jefferson, and the Kentucky Conspiracy of 1793.

Spero served on the faculty of Williams College, teaching courses on the American Presidency, the American Revolution, early American history, and political leadership. Spero is Chair of the Executive Council of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; on the Board for the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; on the Academic Advisory Board of the Benjamin Franklin House in London; and has served for many years on the Washington Library Cabinet at Mount Vernon.

Spero received his BA from James Madison University and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
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The event for 2023 has concluded. See you in 2024!

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The Revolutionary Reads Community Read from America250PADelco is presented in partnership with Widener University and Delaware County Libraries.

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