Sheila Skemp is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Mississippi where she taught classes on colonial and revolutionary America, women and gender, and the "American Dream." She is the author of First Lady of Letters: Judith Sargent Murray and the Struggle for Women's Rights (2009) and has also written a number of books and articles about William and Benjamin Franklin, the most recent of which is The Making of a Patriot: Benjamin Franklin at the Cockpit (2012). She is currently completing work on "In the Course of Human Events," a book focusing on the American Revolution, aimed at general readers and college students. She was named the university's Outstanding Teacher in Liberal Arts in 1985 and received its Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship in 2009.
Skemp's lecture explores the ramifications of a war that tore families, churches, and communities apart. All Americans may have been 'patriots,' but not all supported the fight for independence. Many, for a variety of reasons, firmly believed that America's prosperity and liberties were best protected by retaining their ties with an imperfect, but nevertheless beneficent empire. More than even "the" Civil War of the mid-nineteenth century, the American Revolution pitted father against son, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor.