Esther Forbes uses the character of Johnny Tremain to create a historical fiction account of the initial causes of the Revolutionary War.
Although Johnny Tremain is fictional, he does meet Paul Revere, who warned Americans about the impending arrival of British troops.
British colonists resented the fact that the British could tax them without Parliamentary representation.
However, the British still taxed tea, which angered colonists and led to the famous Boston Tea Party which Johnny Tremain participates in.
Johnny Tremain is one of the apprentices who observes Tories in hopes of getting information back to the Whigs.
Tories felt that things with England would resolve themselves over time.
After the Tea Party, many residents lost their livelihood, and Esther Forbes is conveying to children what liberty costs.