Television series depicting real events don't always get the facts right, and the historical inaccuracies in Sons of Liberty make that all too clear. Shows like The Vikings and Sons of Liberty give viewers insights about certain time periods, but they focus mostly on entertainment. Specifically, in the History Channel's revolutionary-era miniseries, flagrant lies make the formative time in American history look much more glamorous than it was.
Moreover, the program's romantic depictions of the Founding Fathers make it seem like Sons of Liberty is less about fact and more about fiction.
Margaret Gage Didn't Have An Affair With Dr. Joseph Warren
Thomas Gage was unhappily married to Margaret, a woman from New Jersey. On Sons of Liberty, Margaret begins an affair with Dr. Joseph Warren, a Boston physician who actively participated in the rebel movement and sent Paul Revere on his famous ride in 1775.
The affair never took place, however. And most historians found it unlikely that Margaret informed Warren about the British 1775 arrival.
The Show Focuses On Men Who Weren't In The Sons Of Liberty
The actual Sons of Liberty were members of a secret society seeking to protect colonists' rights and combat unjust British taxation. Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Patrick Henry were part of the group. The TV show Sons of Liberty features some of the real activists, but it also introduces John Adams, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. While they are important historical figures, they weren't in the original gathering.
In fact, many of the secret society's true members don't make appearances in the History Channel series at all. Men like Benjamin Rush, Isaac Sears, and James Otis, Jr. are noticeably absent.
The British Troops Weren't That Brutish
During the entire six hours of Sons of Liberty, the British troops are presented as oppressive, violent monsters. In reality, though, they didn't do most of the things we see on the series. British troops never stormed homes; they didn't shut down newspapers or issue warrants. They didn't violently break up peaceful protests, and they didn't take over businesses to use as barracks.
Additionally, Thomas Gage wasn't as horrible as the Sons of Liberty character. The British leader didn't make his men flog civilians, and he couldn't have due to the separation between civil and military law. Nor did Gage disarm the colonists either. By most accounts, the man was fair and law-abiding.
Samuel Adams Wasn't A Big Drinker
Taverns play integral roles in Sons of Liberty. It makes sense because Samuel Adams ran his family's brewery for a time. He didn't spend all his time in pubs drinking, though, contrary to the History Channel's depiction.
Pubs and taverns were actually meeting places where like-minded men could plan and implement ideas.
A Few Facts About Sam Adams Are Totally Wrong
Samuel Adams was 43 in 1765. But in the show, he's portrayed by 34-year-old British actor Ben Barnes. Adams is also depicted as poor. In reality, the man was from a well-off family. Adams struggled while working at the family brewery, but he eventually took over in 1748 and became increasingly politically active.
Additionally, Sons of Liberty shows Adams as a bit of a player; he even flirts with his cousin's wife. In reality, though, he was a twice-married man.
General Thomas Gage Wasn't In Boston In 1765
The antagonist on the show, British General Thomas Gage, is depicted as an authoritative brute. In reality, though, he wasn't in Boston, MA, in 1765. Gage served during the French and Indian War in the 1750's and was made governor of Montreal in 1760.
In 1763, he became commander of all British forces in North America, but was headquartered in New York. Gage visited Boston in 1768, but he didn't spend much time there until becoming military governor of Massachusetts in 1774.