Cover image for The shoemaker and the tea party : memory and the American Revolution
The shoemaker and the tea party : memory and the American Revolution
Young, Alfred F., 1925-2012.
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvii, 262 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E215.7 .Y68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E215.7 .Y68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



George Robert Twelves Hewes, a Boston shoemaker who participated in such key events of the American Revolution as the Boston Massacre and teh Tea Party, might have been lost to history if not for his longevity and the historical mood of the 1830's. When the Tea Party became a leading symbol of the Revolutionary ear fifty years after the actual event, this "common man" in his nineties was "discovered" and celebrated in Boston as a national hero. Young pieces together this extraordinary tale, adding new insights about the role that individual and collective memory play in shaping our understanding of history.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

George Robert Twelves Hewes was a Boston shoemaker who participated in (or perhaps observed) the revolutionary turmoil and some key events in Boston, including the Massacre and the Tea Party. After the revolution, he understandably faded into obscurity. However, the nonagenarian was "rediscovered" in the 1830s as American nationalism flowered; as a symbol of America's defining struggle, he became a source of national pride and the subject of intense interest. Young, a research fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago, has synthesized Hewes' dictated memoirs and recollections of Hewes' descendants into a fascinating account of Hewes' life and his interaction with the great events of his youth. While Young's agenda to stress "bottom-up" history occasionally causes him to inflate the influence of some social groups, this is still a generally balanced and a very revealing portrait of a man, and the environment that influenced him and helped give birth to a nation. --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

This brief volume manages to be two books in one: the biography of a minor figure in the American Revolution and an essay on America's collective memory of the Revolutionary era. The shoemaker in question is George Robert Twelves Hewes, who participated in the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and other events of the rebellion. In 1835, the virtually forgotten Hewes was invited to Boston as one of the last surviving members of the Tea Party. Based on scattered archival materials, obscure printed works, and interviews with Hewes's descendants, this book offers a fascinating peek into the life of a poor man who got caught up in revolutionary fervor. Young, a senior research fellow at Chicago's Newbury Library and the author or editor of numerous books on the Revolutionary era, also presents an intriguing account of how events become "special" to a nation. The famous Tea Party, for example, was not so famous and was not even called a "tea party" until over a half-century after it occurred. Recommended for most public and academic libraries.ÄThomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.