OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

John Ferling

Portrait of John Ferling

John Ferling, professor emeritus at the University of West Georgia, has written biographies of George Washington and John Adams. He has also written extensively on the political and military aspects of the American Revolution and the early republic, including the award-winning Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence (2007). His Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War that Won It (2015) won the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award for the best book on the revolutionary period and was also recognized by Kirkus as one of the six best nonfiction books of the year. His most recent book is Apostles of Revolution: Jefferson, Paine, Monroe. and the Struggle against the Old Order in America and Europe (2018).

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

The colonies were without an army and navy, and when hostilities with Great Britain erupted in 1775, they had no means of sustaining their armed forces in a long war. Britain, rich and powerful, should have crushed the colonial rebellion during the initial three years of fighting. As late as 1781 it came closer to preventing independence than most now realize. Why did American win its independence?
The War of Independence had been underway for more than a year before independence was declared. Who opposed declaring independence? Why? Why did sentiment for independence steadily grow during 1776? Why was independence declared in July 1776?
Thomas Paine was an important figure during the American Revolution. His Common Sense put the question of independence on the table and The American Crisis helped bolster morale during the long, difficult War of Independence. His later writings on republicanism were important in shaping the outlook of countless Americans. He should be considered one of America’s founders.