Trying men's souls: A study on what motivated eight New England soldiers to join the American Revolution
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Sparks, Wesley Tanner
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Citation of Original PublicationSparks, W. (2012). Trying men's souls: A study on what motivated eight New England soldiers to join the American Revolution (Master's thesis). Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD.
In this comparative social history of the American Revolution, the stories of eight men are recounted through the use of their biographies, journals, and memoirs. The lives of four enlisted soldiers and four officers are depicted to gain an understanding of how they became involved in the revolution. In order to do so, their early lives are scrutinized, as well as their post-war lives as they transitioned to peacetime. The main purpose, however, is to examine how each man became motivated to join the war for independence, whether socially, economically, and/or politically. As each man had different aspirations for their expectations before and after the war, one thing is certain: the enlisted soldiers were motivated for different reasons compared to the officers. By examining their early lives, as well as post-war lives, one can gain a better understanding of whether their motivations came to fruition, in the end. The intention is not to disprove their patriotism or zeal for joining the war, but instead to prove there were other motivational factors that contributed to their decision. Their patriotism is undeniable, which was a crucial reason why they were able to win the war after eight long years. Even though they experienced deprivation for eight years, due to the lack of resources, the spirit of the men could not be deterred. Despite harrowing circumstances, the revolutionary soldiers were able to prevail over a superior enemy. With that, their motivations and expectations must be examined to shed light on how these men were able to win the war.