Cradle of Violence : How Boston’s Waterfront Mobs Ignited the American Revolution

Written by Russell Bourne
Review by Mark F. Johnson


Early American history, as taught in grammar schools, has most Americans believing that the American Revolution was fomented and fought by the famous patriots whose names are synonymous with freedom: Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, etc. While these gentlemen are well deserving of their status, history has long overlooked the accomplishments of the lower, working class folks of the Boston waterfront. These forgotten heroes were the original “foot soldiers” of the Revolution. They are the ones who led the riots and “persuaded” tax collectors and other Loyalists to change their ways. Bourne traces their critical, yet unheralded, contributions from the very founding of Boston to the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Although a pure nonfiction work, this book reads as easily as fiction, albeit without the dialogue. The author effectively brings to life the misery and hardships suffered by those who eked out their meager lives along the waterfront, yet at the same time bestowing on these wretched people the dignity and respect they deserved for their crucial roles in history. In effect, he has awarded them their hard-earned, yet long-denied status as American patriots.

This book includes extensive acknowledgements and interpretations as well as a lengthy index and bibliography.