Skip to main content
Brandon Downing headshot

As the nation prepares to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, one distinguished scholar is shining a spotlight on a lesser-known yet pivotal theater of the conflict — the Ohio Valley.

Dr. Brandon Downing, Associate Professor of History at Marietta College, has been selected to present his research at the prestigious “Origins of Revolution: 250th Anniversary of the Fairfax Resolves” Conference, hosted by the renowned George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon and George Mason’s Gunston Hall.

“This is one of the top conferences on the Revolutionary War, and the overarching topic shifts each year to explore new perspectives on this transformative era,” Downing said. “While the events in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia are well-documented, the role of the Ohio Valley has often been overshadowed. Yet, the land speculation, resource competition, and simmering tensions that characterized this frontier region were a necessary precondition to the outbreak of the American Revolution.”

Downing’s presentation will examine the complex web of competing interests — from fur traders and small farmers to land speculators and plantation owners — that converged in the Ohio Valley in the decades leading up to the war. He argues that Britain’s attempts to reshape its colonial policies after the Seven Years’ War, through measures like the Proclamation Line and the Land Reform Act of 1774, unexpectedly united these contrasting groups against the British.

“Taxation and representation were not the only catalysts for revolution; the fight for control over the Ohio Valley’s valuable resources was equally instrumental in galvanizing colonial resistance,” Downing said.

The historian suggests that the events unfolding in this lower-profile region were an important — and often overlooked — precursor to the outbreak of the War for American Independence.

“Therefore, the events that occurred in the Ohio Valley were a necessary precondition to the American Revolution,” Downing said. “I think it is important for residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley to realize that we live in a region that was a source of two consequential wars in American history: the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolutionary War.”

As the nation prepares to commemorate this pivotal chapter in its history, Downing’s research promises to shed new light on the complex, interconnected factors that culminated in the American Revolution.