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Starr Center for the


Study of the American Experience

“Frontier Rebels,” a talk and book signing with Patrick Spero


Date: 5:30pm EDT April 4

Historian Patrick Spero, whose study of the 18th-century frontier is bringing a new perspective to the roots of the American Revolution, will give a talk on April 4 about the forgotten story of a band of rebels, known as the Black Boys, whose protests helped ignite the battle for American independence.

Spero, librarian and director of the American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia, will discuss his new book, Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West, 1765 -1776, at the Toll Science Center’s Litrenta Hall. The program begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a book signing. Sponsored by the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the event is free and open to the public.

A Publishers’ Weekly starred review praises Frontier Rebels: “[Spero delves] deeply into previously underutilized sources. .  . Spero’s thoughtful work is an important contribution to ongoing reassessments of the nature and meaning of the American founding.”

While the familiar narrative of the origins of the American Revolution focuses on taxation and the colonies along the eastern seaboard, in the west frontiersmen clashed with the British Empire over Indian relations. When Britain launched an expedition into the American interior to open trade with the Indian warrior Pontiac, the Black Boys led an uprising to stop it. Spero asserts that suspicion and distrust of both Natives and imperial aims fueled the flames of rebellion on the frontier years before the Declaration of Independence.

As a scholar of early American history, Spero has published books, essays and reviews on the American Revolution, including Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), and the edited anthology The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). Prior to his appointment at the American Philosophical Society, Spero served on the faculty at Williams College.

Spero has been involved in a number of public history initiatives throughout his career, including serving as historian at the David Library of the American Revolution, leading teacher workshops for the Gilder-Lehrman Institute and National Endowment for the Humanities, lecturing about political leadership to business professionals and special groups, consulting on exhibits and other projects, and serving on various boards.

Book signing to follow. This book title at this event will be 50% off for Washington College students.