When the Seven Years’ War ended in 1763, in a spectacular victory for the British, the French army agreed to leave North America, but many Native Americans, fearing that the British Empire would expand onto their lands and conquer them, refused to lay down their weapons. Under the leadership of a shrewd Ottawa warrior named Pontiac, they kept fighting for their freedom. The British knew peace with Pontiac was their only option―if they could convince him to negotiate.

Enter George Croghan, a wily trader-turned-diplomat with close ties to Native Americans, who organized one of the largest peace offerings ever assembled and began a daring voyage into the interior of North America in search of Pontiac. Meanwhile, a ragtag group of frontiersmen set about stopping this peace deal in its tracks. Dressing as Native Americans and smearing their faces in charcoal, these frontiersmen, known as the Black Boys, launched targeted assaults to destroy Croghan’s peace offering. The outcome of these interwoven struggles would determine whose independence would prevail on the American frontier―whether freedom would be defined by the British, Native Americans, or colonial settlers.

Drawing on largely forgotten manuscript sources from archives across North America, Patrick Spero recasts the familiar narrative of the American Revolution, moving the action from the Eastern Seaboard to the treacherous western frontier. In spellbinding detail, Frontier Rebels reveals an often-overlooked truth: the West played a crucial role in igniting the flame of American independence 

Patrick Spero is the Librarian and Director of the American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia. As a scholar of early American history, Dr. Spero specializes in the era of the American Revolution.

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