Radicals and Revolutionary Revisionism

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I had the honor of chatting with fellow novelist Tyler Tichelaar about my new historical thriller, Abducting Arnold. Among other topics, we discuss a political party of enormous influence during the American Revolution that historians have nevertheless totally forgotten, the Radical Patriots. Humorless devotees of Big Government, the Radicals were fitting forbears of today’s Progressives. As I tell Tyler, “…before their reign of terror ended, the Radicals had hanged several of their opponents and fought a battle, complete with cannon, against others, including Benedict Arnold. They confiscated people’s homes for themselves” – eminent domain, eighteenth-century style – “and established dozens of ‘committees’ (we call them ‘bureaucracies’ now) to regulate citizens’ lives. The Radicals first rose to power in Philadelphia; under their thumb, the city — and, as their grip widened, all of Pennsylvania — resembled modern America under Washington DC.”

One of the most fascinating questions about the Radicals is historians’ silence on them. Why have they completely ignored these politicians and bureaucrats? Is it because they prove yet again the mercilessness, brutality and horror of the State? Or is it because Benedict Arnold, who defied the Radicals and all tyranny, must be demonized – and that’s unlikely once folks see his treason as a heroic reaction against dictatorship?

At any rate, read the interview and let me know your theory on why historians ignore the Radicals. And for more information on these despots wrapped in a page-turning, can’t-put-it-down story, snag a copy of Abducting Arnold.

11:19 am on January 31, 2014