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The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox

, 224 pages

4 b&w photos, 1 map

September 2017



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The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox


In 1774, Boston bookseller Henry Knox married Lucy Waldo Flucker, the daughter of a prominent Tory family. Although Lucy’s father was the third-ranking colonial official in Massachusetts, the couple joined the American cause after the Battles of Lexington and Concord and fled British-occupied Boston. Knox became a soldier in the Continental Army, where he served until the war’s end as Washington’s artillery commander.

While Henry is well known to historians, his private life and marriage to Lucy remain largely unexplored. Phillip Hamilton tells the fascinating story of the Knoxes’ relationship amid the upheavals of war. Like John and Abigail Adams, the Knoxes were often separated by the revolution and spent much of their time writing to one another. They penned nearly 200 letters during the conflict, more than half of which are reproduced and annotated for this volume.

This correspondence—one of the few collections of letters between revolutionary-era spouses that spans the entire war—provides a remarkable window into the couple’s marriage. Placed at the center of great events, struggling to cope with a momentous conflict, and attempting to preserve their marriage and family, the Knoxes wrote to each other in a direct and accessible manner as they negotiated shifts in gender and power relations. Working together, Henry and Lucy maintained their household and protected their property, raised and educated their children, and emotionally adjusted to other dramatic changes within their family, including a total break between Lucy and her Tory family. Combining original epistles with Hamilton’s introductory essays, The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox offers important insights into how this relatable and highly individual couple overcame the war’s challenges.

Phillip Hamilton is a professor of history at Christopher Newport University. He is the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Revolutionary Family: The Tuckers of Virginia, 1752–1830 and Serving the Old Dominion: A History of Christopher Newport University, 1958–2011.

"A fascinating and important addition to the literature of marriage and family life during the revolution. These unique letters, punctuated by excellent narrative interludes, provide a rich vein of information about the war."

"A highly analytical and beautifully narrated joint biography that is also a collection of intriguing (and well-glossed) letters, this book represents a tremendous contribution to the history of the American Revolution. There will be strong demand from both history buffs and classroom teachers."

"Phillip Hamilton’s illuminating and important collection of Lucy and Henry Knox’s correspondence movingly reveals a marriage and a nation coming of age in the crucible of the Revolutionary War. Filled with peril, perseverance, loss, and love, their letters—at once intimate and expansive—affirm the deeply personal dimensions of the American Revolution."

"Scholars and students of the American Revolution owe a deep debt of gratitude to Phillip Hamilton for bringing this correspondence of Henry and Lucy Knox from the archives to the pages of his elegant book. Hamilton's insightful and gracefully written introductory notes combine with his subjects’ chronicle of separation, anxiety, and resilience to give us a fuller, more human understanding of the costs and the rewards of the long struggle for independence. This collection reminds us that personal strategies for survival are as important to consider as battlefield strategies for victory."

"The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox is an extraordinary primary source of military movements and life, social customs, economic changes and hardships, and domestic life during the American Revolution... Not only will this rich historical record aid researchers, but also historical fiction authors looking to capture the flavor of language and society during this time."

"I am glad to recommend this book. I am sure it will prove valuable for others who study the American Revolution and a pleasurable read for all who like firsthand accounts of those who have lived in the past."

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