Frontier Rebels

The untold story of the “Black Boys,” a rebellion on the American frontier in 1765 that sparked the American Revolution.

Available for purchase here.

Praise for Frontier Rebels

“Spero presents convincing support for his thesis that hatred of Indians and desire for their lands played a pivotal role in fomenting the revolution. . . [Spero delves] deeply into previously underutilized sources. . . . Spero’s thoughtful work is an important contribution to ongoing reassessments of the nature and meaning of the American founding.”
– Publishers’ Weekly (starred review)

“Patrick Spero uses a little-known rebellion that erupted in western Pennsylvania a decade before Lexington and Concord to expose prerevolutionary America in all its ambiguity. The result is history in a grain of sand.”
– Woody Holton, author of Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution

“Patrick Spero broadens the horizons on the meaning of American independence, expanding the map from the Sons of Liberty in Boston to the Black Boys on the western frontier. Both groups chose to defy British authority for Jeffersonian reasons, but harbored quite different definitions of ‘pursuit of happiness.’ Thus a long lost story that Spero tells with understated elegance.”
– Joseph J. Ellis, author of American Dialogue

“Patrick Spero shines a bright light on a forgotten stream of the American Revolution, one that flowed from the Indian-hating frontiers of the west rather than from the liberty-loving cities of the east. That stream has been forgotten not just because elite easterners have written so many of our histories but because it reveals so many unsettling truths about the origins of cherished democratic values. This book is must-reading.”
– Daniel K. Richter, author of Before the Revolution

“In lively and compelling prose, Patrick Spero tells the little-known story of a group of vigilantes who helped to change the course of American history.”
– Michael A. McDonnell, author of The Politics of War and Masters of Empire

“Shifting his vision away from eastern ports like Boston and Philadelphia to the ‘dark and bloody ground’ of the Pennsylvania frontier, Patrick Spero offers a compelling and important new interpretation of the roots of the American Revolution, one that reveals that the independence of the new United States would come at a terrible cost to North America’s Indian peoples.”
– Karl Jacoby, author of The Strange Career of William Ellis

“Based on wide reading and archival research, and written in an engaging style, Frontier Rebels provides important and unsettling answers to the questions about the Revolution’s origins that it raises.”
– Brendan McConville, Boston University, author of The King’s Three Faces

“When British general Thomas Gage received news of the Black Boys incident in 1765, he instantly smelled a larger rebellion brewing against British rule. We, too, should pay attention. In this dramatic story, Patrick Spero recaptures the significance and gravity of this struggle for independence on the early American frontier.”
– David Preston, author of Braddock’s Defeat

“Riveting… Written in crystalline prose and populated by a host of colorful characters, this book is ideal for general audiences, undergraduate students, and specialists alike.”
– David J. Silverman, author of Thundersticks

“A welcome contribution to frontier history.”
– Kirkus Reviews

About Frontier Rebels

In Frontier Rebels, historian Patrick Spero tells the story of the Black Boys, a band of rebels whose protests ignited the American Revolution. In 1765, as the Stamp Act riled eastern seaports, frontiersmen clashed with the British Empire over another issue: Indian relations. When British officials launched a risky diplomatic expedition into the American interior to open trade with the Indian warrior Pontiac, the Black Boys formed to stop it. Distrustful of Native neighbors and suspicious of imperial aims, the Black Boys led an uprising that threatened the future of Britain’s empire. Clashing with unscrupulous traders, daring diplomats, Native warriors, and imperious British officials, the Black Boys evolved into an organized political movement that resisted the Crown years before the Declaration of Independence. A fast-paced read examining an overlooked conflict, Frontier Rebels brings to life a forgotten cast of characters and sheds new light on the origins of American Independence.

Historian, Author, Librarian