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Accommodating Revolutions

Virginia's Northern Neck in an Era of Transformations, 1760-1810

Albert H, Tillson, Jr.

Publication Year: 2010

Accommodating Revolutions addresses a controversy of long standing among historians of eighteenth-century America and Virginia—the extent to which internal conflict and/or consensus characterized the society of the Revolutionary era. In particular, it emphasizes the complex and often self-defeating actions and decisions of dissidents and other non-elite groups. By focusing on a small but significant region, Tillson elucidates the multiple and interrelated sources of conflict that beset Revolutionary Virginia, but also explains why in the end so little changed.

Published by: University of Virginia Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-viii

This book could never have been completed without the help and support of many others. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography and the Journal of Southern History kindly allowed me to use reworked portions of an article and book review that initially appeared in their pages. Emory Evans, Whit Ridgway, and the members of the Washington Area Early ...

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pp. 3-12

Like most virginians born in the mid-twentieth century, I began life surrounded by the past. For us, the most obvious past centered on the Civil War. Certainly this was true in Richmond: according to the novelist Tom Robbins, the state capital was “not really a city at all but the world’s largest Confederate museum.”1 Hollywood Cemetery and the statues along Monument Avenue had been the subjects of veneration, controversy, and humor for generations. Even in the Washington suburbs where ...

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Chapter 1: A Troubled Gentry

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pp. 13-53

Despite the power they exerted over their society throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Northern Neck’s leading men were clearly uneasy about their way of life. Wealth, prestige, and authority on the peninsula were concentrated in the hands of a small number of people. Not merely material possessions, office holding, and family connections, but also the display of accepted standards of personal refinement could provide ...

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Chapter 2: Beyond the Plantations

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pp. 54-100

Beyond their immediate house holds, the Northern Neck gentry experienced a wide array of frictions with the remainder of the white population throughout most of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Despite their firm control of the formal operations of local government, even here the region’s leaders often met with hostility rather than deference from their humbler neighbors. More importantly, private quarrels with small freeholders over such matters as land rights, timber ...

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Chapter 3: The World(s) Northern Neck Slavery Made

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pp. 101-152

If the class frictions among whites described in the previous chapter were essentially constant for most of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the evolving institution of African American slavery on the Northern Neck fostered growing amounts of conflict and anxiety among slaveholders, slaves, and non-slave-owning whites in the age of the Revolution. The institution had always rested upon a foundation of exploitation and brutality, and the enslaved resisted in a myriad of ways that reflected ...

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Chapter 4: The Scottish Merchants

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pp. 153-179

If the growth and diversification of the slave economy was increasing the levels of conflict and anxiety on the Northern Neck in the Revolutionary era, so was another pattern of transformation, the growing power of Scottish tobacco firms whose agents— or “factors”— operated throughout the Chesapeake in growing numbers during the decades after mid-century. By purchasing tobacco directly from producers in Virginia rather than selling it on consignment in Britain, and by offering a wide array ...

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Chapter 5: Controlling the Revolution

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pp. 180-226

The American revolution and the preceding imperial crises challenged the gentry’s control of the Northern Neck far more than the developments of earlier years. During the pre-war controversies over new British regulatory measures, patriot leaders had to confront indifference and misgivings among the populace as well as the possibility that the ideologies they espoused to mobilize popular support could be turned against them. These problems continued ...

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Chapter 6: The Evangelical Challenge

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pp. 227-262

Like the wartime draft resisters, the evangelical Protestant groups of the Revolutionary era actually embraced much of the social order they seemed to challenge. Their rapid growth in the 1770s and 1780s provoked more anxiety and hostility among the gentry than any other development save the American Revolution. In part this was because the evangelicals strenuously repudiated many ideals that underlay the planter elite’s power and prestige. Probably more alarming to the gentry were the ...

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Chapter 7: The Preservation of Hegemony

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pp. 263-282

In the quarter century that followed the War for American Independence, the Northern Neck gentry defeated or neutralized the threats still posed to their power by the consequences of the Revolution, the growth of evangelical religion, and the region’s continued involvement with the external market economy. The egalitarian implications of both the Revolution and the Great Awakening challenged the enslavement of African Americans, and some whites— most notably Robert Carter— expressed their ...


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pp. 283-394


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pp. 395-417


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pp. 419-423

E-ISBN-13: 9780813928517
E-ISBN-10: 0813928516
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813928456
Print-ISBN-10: 0813928451

Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 1 map, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 755633557
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Accommodating Revolutions

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Northern Neck (Va.) -- History -- 18th century.
  • Northern Neck (Va.) -- Social conditions -- 18th century.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Social aspects.
  • Northern Neck (Va.) -- Economic conditions -- 18th century.
  • Gentry -- Virginia -- Northern Neck -- History -- 18th century.
  • African Americans -- Virginia -- Northern Neck -- History -- 18th century.
  • Merchants -- Virginia -- Northern Neck -- History -- 18th century.
  • Slavery -- Virginia -- Northern Neck -- History -- 18th century.
  • Social classes -- Virginia -- Northern Neck -- History -- 18th century.
  • Virginia -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Social aspects.
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