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Analysis of the book Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution written by Nathaniel Philbrick

Updated on December 27, 2014

Bunker Hill Analysis

The major focus of this story is on the city of Boston itself. The start of the story is set during the time of the Boston Tea Party in December 1773. The state of society during this time period was very volatile because many people were upset with the way that the British were treating the citizens of America. The political climate at the time was relatively split because there were those that considered themselves loyal to the crown (loyalists) and those that did not (patriots). However, the patriots began to take action into their own hands by vocally and physically showing their distaste of their treatment from Great Britain. The mistreatment that the colonial citizens felt spurred many of them on to taking their freedom into their own hands. Around this time is when the Committee’s of Correspondence were created. These were composed of the thirteen original colonies, but it was basically the shadow government that stood united against Great Britain. At the Committee’s of Correspondence, support was rallied that would eventually lead to the first Continental Congress. Without the Committee of Correspondence there would not have been a group of leaders that would form the Continental Congress. So, in a sense, the Continental Congress would not have been possible without the Committee of Correspondence.

Joseph Warren, who was a doctor, a soldier, and the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, was a key character leading up to and during the battle of Bunker Hill. Joseph Warren was the individual who was responsible for encouraging and helping spur on Paul Revere and Dawes to ride on horseback through the night warning people that the British soldiers were coming. Once the British forces began to move into Boston, Dr. Warren refused to serve as a medical officer, and he became the general that would lead the front-line into battle. Philbrick tells about many scenes from the battle in the city of Boston, Concord, and Bunker Hill itself. Warren played a major role leading up to the Revolutionary war because he caused Revere and Dawes to conduct their famous evening ride, and he was also the general that led the forces into battle for the battle of Bunker Hill. Unfortunately, Warren died leading the troops into battle during the battle of Bunker Hill. Philbrick believed that if Warren had not died at the battle of Bunker Hill he would have become the general for the continental army instead of George Washington.

One of the other key figures leading up to the battle of Bunker Hill was General William Howe. General Howe was responsible for leading the troops into Boston leading up to the famous battle. He suggested leading the British forces in a frontal attack against the rebels instead of doing an amphibious attack. The rebels killed 1,000 British soldiers before taking the fort of Breeds Hill. Howe did not expect the rebels to be able to put up that much of a fight. He expected the rebels to be a weaker force, but instead they were organized and were able to inflict a large amount of damage. The battle of Bunker Hill affected the way that Howe lead his forces into battle from then on.

John Hancock at the time of the Tea Party was a very well known tea smuggler and member of the Massachusetts Legislature. He was very well known in his business and as a public servant, and because of this he used his positions to show his distaste for British troops occupying the surrounding area and for taxes inflicting his ability to do business. When the Tea Act was passed in 1773, it did serious damage to merchants who were not trading with the East India Trading Company. As one of the people affected by the Tea Act, John Hancock and others met with Governor Thomas Hutchinson to appeal to him to repeal the Tea Act. However, Gov. Hutchinson did not repeal it, and because of this, those that did not agree with the Tea Act met in the Boston Harbor. They dressed themselves as Indians and then proceeded to dump the tea from two of the ships belonging to the East India Trading Company into the harbor.

The concept of ambition compared between the rebels and the British forces was very different from one another. Parliament wanted to maintain control of the colonies and have them pay taxes to cover the cost of the British Empire, but the rebels wanted to have freedom that would give them the ability to live life as they saw fit. This becomes evident when you compare two individuals, one who was loyal to Parliament and the other who was not. Governor Hutchinson had a very different view of ambition than Joseph Warren did. Gov. Hutchinson wanted to maintain order in the colony, but he did not believe in going against Parliament because he wanted to maintain loyalty to the Crown. He would rather follow Parliament than allow for every citizen to live life how they best saw fit to do so. Joseph Warren was drastically different from Gov. Hutchinson. He believed that every individual should have the right to freely choose how to live life. He did not support taxation without representation because he believed that if the colonies were taxed that they should have the right to be represented in Parliament. So you could say that the difference in ambition between Governor Hutchinson and Joseph Warren was rooted in their opinion of having security or having freedom. Governor Hutchinson would rather have security from the British Empire than be allowed to live life freely. Joseph Warren believed that every individual should have the freedom to live life how they thought was best.

Abigail Adams mentions that character was what mattered most in the revolution close to the end of the book. I believe that she meant that the British Empire had a different opinion of whether the citizens within the colonies would have the ability to live a free life or not. The members of the thirteen colonies eventually united together because they wanted to live free lives. They wanted to be able to allow every citizen to have a say in how their government should serve its people. If the colonial people would not have made the decision to separate themselves from the British Empire we would not have the American nation that we have today. If it were not for the individuals who caused the battle of Bunker Hill to occur there may never have been a Revolutionary War. If there were never a Revolutionary War there would never be an American nation.


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