Rarely in American history has a political figure been so pilloried and despised as Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of Massachusetts and an ardent loyalist of the Crown in the days leading up to the American revolution.
In this narrative and analytic life of Hutchinson, the first since Bernard Bailyn's Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography a quarter century ago, Andrew Stephen Walmsley traces Hutchinson's decline from well- respected member of Boston's governing class to America's leading object of revolutionary animus. Walmsley argues that Hutchinson, rather than simply a victim of his inability to understand the passions associated with a revolutionary movement, was in fact defeated in a classic political and personal struggle for power. No mere sycophant for the British, Hutchinson was keenly aware of how much he had to lose if revolutionary forces prevailed, which partially explains his evolution from near- Whig to intransigent loyalist. His consequent vilification became a vehicle through which the growing patriot movement sought to achieve legitimacy.
An entertaining and thought-provoking view of revolutionary events from the perspective of the losing side, Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution tells the story of the American Revolution through the prism of one of its most famous detractors.
"A readable and tightly argued political and social biography that provides numerous insights into Massachusetts' history on the eve of the revolution." -Historical Journal of Massachusetts
"Given the enduring fascination of the American Revolution, this fine biography of Thomas Hutchinson should find a wide and appreciative audience. Historian Stephen Walmsely's persuasive study of the loyalist governor of Massachusetts Bay portrays an honorable but unimaginative official who remains true to his aristocratic conception of duty but helpless to arrest the forces wrenching his native land away from Crown rule. Putting a human face on an epic conflict, Walmsley finds hutchinson's radical opponents motivated less by ideas and principles than by ambition, greed, and personal animus. Indeed, Walmsley's graphic description of the mob violence, deployed by the patriots to intimidate Hutchinson and subvert the rule of law, will leave readers pondering who were the villains and who the heroes in this superb reconsideration of the nation's origins."-Allen Matusow,Rice University
"A significant addition. Hutchinson definitely needed a more complete treatment than he heretofore had received and Walmsley has neatly provided it. A genuine pleasure to read."-Charles P. Neimeyer,author of America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army
"Usefully emphasizes the economic and personal influences on the politics of Massachusetts." -Religious Studies Review
"A candid and readable biography . . . [Walmsley] gives a vivid account of the descent of a controversial and sometimes misunderstood figure of the period." -Choice