American Revolution as Described in 1913 Texbook

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, February 20, 1913:  Am working at my essay. I have it pretty well on its way.

Map Titled Land Claims of the Thirteen Original Colonies in American History for Schools (1913)

Map Titled “Land Claims of the Thirteen Original Colonies” in American History for Schools (1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was writing an essay on the American Revolution. Her teacher was going to give a two and a half-dollar gold piece to whoever wrote the best essay.

The American Revolution seems like an awfully broad topic. There must have been some additional directions to narrow it down—but they didn’t make it into the diary.

I found an American History textbook that was published in 1913. Here’s how the chapter on the American Revolution began:

The Revolutionary War

In the war which she had begun, Great Britain would find both advantage and difficulty in the geographical conditions of the country which she had undertaken to subdue.

The coast line, indented with harbors, and with rivers flowing into the sea at convenient intervals, at first offered to a powerful navy little resistance beyond that of inertia, which condition, however, might prove distinctly embarrassing from the fact that it was temporary and therefore invited a naval commander to possible destruction through necessity for his acting with extreme haste in seizing important towns on the seaboard. But in holding even Boston, the storm center of insurgency, the British power was already largely occupied; and , in the end, events proved that while the coast towns might be taken, their capture would cost more than the results were worth; for the strength of the American colonies was not in the cities, but in the rural regions, where every man and boy knew every stream and mountain, and a column of British never left the coast and marched into the interior without sooner or later coming to grief. . . .

American History for Schools (1913) by R.B. Cousins and J.A. Hill

20 Responses

  1. Could you imagine if the states were as big today as what their land claims were back then? It would make for an interesting election :-).

  2. It is always interesting to see how history books have changed over the years. Even though history itself can’t be changed, the way in which it is written and described can. I love the map, too. :)

  3. interesting to see history circa a hundred years ago

  4. Wow….I once found an old geography book at an antique shop and bought it for my son. It’s amazing to see how things have changed.

  5. Fascinating – I notice how Connecticut shared a little strip of land with Virginia, land which is now part of Ohio and Indiana.

  6. You should see my 1947 Compton’s Encyclopedia!

  7. Hey, I didn’t know that the States looked like that on a map back then and that there were two Virginia’s

    • The states really looked odd back then. I think that some of the original colonies claimed land in the “west” that had few European settlers at that time.

  8. Might like to read a wonderful little book, Kitchen House. I enjoyed it very much. Made me say up to the wee hours of the morning

  9. [...] few days ago, I told you how the chapter on the Revolutionary War in a 1913 history textbook began. Today, I’ll share the concluding paragraph of the same [...]

  10. Fascinating… especially for someone, like me, coming from the other side of the world …

  11. Gee, I wish my teachers would give us money for well-written essays. :P
    Can’t wait to see if she’s won…got some catching up to do.

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