Chapter by Chapter through 1777 - Danbury on Fire!
Caveats: This all-ages story deals with facts as they were in 1777. While not condoning drinking, young reader may understand the complexity of the times when faced with a world where taking a drink of water risked your life.
This story contains reference to seizure of property and thievery becoming confused. Lying is also condoned when relating to personal safety and family peace.
No blood is spilled in the book. Nothing disturbingly graphic is presented. The only oath is "Good God in Heaven!"
Insinuation is made that a soldier has evil intentions toward a boy: this is a false lead, as the soldier needs to find a place with no adults present so that he can safely desert the British army.
Here’s the Story: Joe Hamilton, 13, wants a tavern kitchen job, but his parents’ rejection of the American Revolution causes Joe to be rejected for jobs in his hometown of Danbury CT. Isaiah is a schoolyard bully who states his belief in the war and plans to enlist. His recounting of the financial advantages of enlistment causes the schoolyard crowd to blink in amazement. Unfortunately, those plans include robbing Joe's family of either Joe's father's horse or the familys two sows.the Joe follows his parents’ pacifist beliefs and shows no interest in the war. Another boy tells Joe that he will yield his own kitchen job, as he plans to apprentice. Just what Joe wanted!
Vocabulary: (in the order of appearance in the text)
sow - adult female pig "My family owns two sows."
patriot - one who believes in separating America from England: by violence if necessary. "John Adams was a Patriot."
loyalist or tory - one who believes that America should continue belonging to England "Mr. Knap in the story is a loyalist tory."
fuming - expressing anger "He frowned and fumed as he left the schoolyard."
pacifist - one who opposes war "My parents are pacifists."
investment - a purchase (in whole or part) of something that should increase in value "The two sows are an investmewnt."
ammunition - bullets or cannon balls "The Patriot militia did not have enough ammunition."
claw up - steal "Isaiah is proud that he can claw up a gun whenever he wants to."
confiscation - what the Patriots called taking items necessary for the army or militia "The Patriots confiscated my horse."
preen - using expressions and body language showing pride in one's self. "Isaiah preened in front of the girls."
bounty - amount paid by a government for a soldier to enlist "The Patriots started to pay large bounties."
pounds - Britsh unit of money. "8 pounds might buy a normal riding horse."
substitute - If a person was drafted but could not serve as a soldier, he could "purchase" a substitute by paying a person with money.
stallion - adult male horse
rearing - a dangerous habit of a horse standing on its hind legs, which sometimes results in the horse falling over.
heft - lift
pacing - pacing horses or ponies do not trot; both left legs step, then both right legs step "Driving horses may be pacers."
pony - small horse "My poiny is too small for an adult to ride."
ale - light beer "That old ale is spoiled and should be thrown out."
caw - raspy cry of crows "Cawing crows sound terrible."
exhilaration - great joy "Joe leaped in the air from exhilaration."
garner - get, as in "He tried to garner some money."
pence - Britsh penny "It cost four pence."
- Do the boys have new respect for Isaiah after his speech? Yes, because he seems to have genuine plans for his life.
- Why is Joe not interested in the war? So far, the war has shattered his family, impoverished his parents, and made both them and joe unpopular. No oine in his family has suffered except a disappeared cousin of his mother.
- Would you sign up after the Patriots had suffered big losses and you knew that death lurked not far away?
Here’s the Story: Joe meets rejection again because of his parents' politics. He discovers that his parents have paid heavy fines for not attending church as a political protest. With no government social services, the churches bear the whole burden of war victims. Joe is publicly embarrassed in front of the tavern customers when he tries to order: his family’s account has been cancelled for non-payment. In the adult conversation, we hear that unknown forces may be at play regarding the war and Joe's family.
Countenance: face "His countance bore the signs of misery."
Sandemanians: a Christian sect that had landed in Danbury some years before. When Mr. Sandeman died, a former Congregational Church minister headed up the church, which opposed the war.
renegade: someone opposed to normalk social conventions "He's a renegade when it comes to going along with the crowd."
blacksmith: person who works with iron, especially one who shoes horses "Blacksmiths charge a lot to shoe a horse!"
slop: the wet food garbage from a kitchen; also a verb -- as in feeding slop "I took the sloppail to the barn and slopped the pigs."
1. Joe's parents have hidden truths from him and now persons outside the family reveal what Joe should already know. Has that happened to you? Which one did you feel most, hurt or angry?
2. Is Mrs. Clark really acting like a witch or is she just a normal business-person. Would this situation have happened to her only this once or many times before?
3. How would Joe feel to realize that his fathers suffered similar humiliation in local businesses? And that his mother sent him on an errand, perhaps knowing what would happen?
Here’s the Story: Walking home, Joe encounters his grandfather and uncles, who try to lure him into returning to the family farm: in other words, to run away from his parents. Joe’s grandfather, Capt. Silas Hamilton, reveals that Joe’s father will be going on a trip. He tells Joe to wake up to what is happening in the world. Parting from his relatives, Joe decideson his own that the "trip" is to rescue his mother’s cousin who was imprisoned in New York by the British. Joe then meets his hero, Lambert Lockwood, a war vet at 20. Lockwood tells Joe that two men have come to town and are telling strange tales. Lockwood is unsure what is true but implies that the men are lying.
militia: local troops used by the Patriot army for short term assignments "Uncle John is in the militia."
fostering: to increase "My grandfather fosters the ideal of outlawing slavery."
equine: related to horses "Veterinarians study equine medecine"
yestereve: old time expression for yesterday evening "Yestereve, you didn't come to church."
rangy: slim with long limbs "A rangy horse can be very fast."
shod: to have shoes or have shoes applied "Capt. Hamilton won't pay to have the horse shod."
enticing: luring or appealing "The smell of the ham pie was very enticing."
tricorn: a hat with the brim turned up to make the hat have three corners. "General Arnold wore a tricorn."
shins: front of the leg bones below the knees. "When Uncle Josh picks him up, Joe kicks his uncle in the shins."
1. Did you ever find "reasons" for things that happened and then find out that "possible" is not the same as true?
2. If you were Joe, would you be anxious to check out the promised gun and horse at the first opportunity?
Here’s the Story: Joe reaches home to find his parents deeply upset for unknown reasons. His father brings up the idea that Joe should apprentice in another town. Angered by this unwelcome idea, Joe pushes his parents until his father announces that the British will invade the town. Joe finds this not just shocking, but a sign that his father is mentally ill. When he infers this, his father tells Joe to wake up to reality, the same thing his grandfather and Mrs. Clark said. His father also reveals that when he was Joe's age, he saw endless horrors in the Seven Years' War, horrors that still haunt him.
appalled: horrified "My mother was appalled by my clothes."
enlist: sign up for a type of armed forces "My grandfather enlisted in World War II."
recruits: new soldiers/sailors "The recruits moved to their stations."
incineration: burning "The fires caused the incineration of wild animals."
tacking: how a sailing vessel gets the correct wind to make it move "The boats tacked back and forth all afternoon."
War against the French: also called The Seven Years' WQar or the French and Indian War (1756-1763) Grandfather Hamilton served in the War against the French."
Here’s the Story: Joe's father tells him he must apprentice in another town. While Joe sees advantages in apprenticeship, he doesn't want to leave town because of the landlord' daughter. Joe's father has had an accident with his horse, a vicious animal. The mention of Lockwood brings Joe's father to a boil as he questions why the young man has suddenly befriended Joe. Joe is appalled to learn that Joe's father blames Lockwood for the recent death of Lockwood's brother, a boy only a little older than Joe. Joe rushes off to find Lockwood.
apprenticeship: legal agreement for a work trainee to spend X years learning a meaningful trade at low wages "He apprenticed to a saddlemaker for four years."
commissary: place where supplies are kept and doled out "Lockwood worked for the Danbury commissary."
skirmish: a minor battle with few participants "General Arnold planned a skirmish in Ridgefield."
fowling gun: shotgun using pellets instead of bullets "A fowliung piece hung over the fireplace."
beholden: to be in debt to someone "Joe does not want to be beholden to the blacksmith and owe him money."
appurtenance: equipment "Lockwood probably has every horse appurtenance in existence."