Discussion Questions for “George Robert Twelves Hewes” Alfred F. Young, “George Robert Twelves Hewes (1742-1840): A Boston Shoemaker and the Memory of the American Revolution” The William and Mary Quarterly 38 no. 4 (Oct. 1981): 561-623.
Answer all of the questions and be prepared to discuss them in depth. In each answer, use at least one quotation from the text and cite it properly, like this: (Young, 620). Your answers should be detailed, written in complete sentences (not bullet points), and at least 1 full paragraph of at least 5-6 sentences. You also must answer every part of the question to get full credit.
1. Young starts out the article with two anecdotes and a discussion of “deference.” What does he mean by this term in the context of 18th century America?
2. Young writes that “the boy became a shoemaker – because he had very little
choice” (Young, 575). Why did he have very little choice, and what were the various factors that led Hewes to become a shoemaker?
3. Does Hewes’ life story offer us any different ideas about what caused the Revolution? How much did small, everyday, individual actions play a role in bringing the Revolution about?
4. Young thinks that some of Hewes’ memories, like the idea that he was next to John Hancock at the Boston Tea Party, are probably not true. But he says these “false” memories still matter. Why?
5. Hewes’ story gives us a chance to see the Revolution from the perspective of a commoner. What does his story tell us about the difference between popular action and the more elite revolutionary efforts? Do you think the commoners’ experiences of the Revolution were radically different than those of the elites?