Rome Reborn on Western Shores
Historical Imagination and the Creation of the American Republic
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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Table of Contents
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When I took the first steps toward writing the manuscript o n which this book is based, a friend warned me of the intellectual sharks swimming in the Hobbesian waters of academia. They will, my good-intentioned adviser cautioned, take a snap whenever they get a chance. That friend could not have been more wrong. In terms of mentors,..
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Reflecting on the American Revolution from his retirement in 1805, the second president of the United States “read the history of all ages and nations in every page” of a Roman history he was studying at the time. Indeed, it was “especially the history of our country for forty years past” that John Adams could recognize and discover in the Roman annals....
Chapter 1: A Revolutionary Language
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American patriots found classical history, its narratives and patterns, instrumental from the early days of the constitutional disputes with Britain in the mid-1760s. Indeed, revolutionaries articulated grievances and gained the imperial contest’s rhetorical and moral high ground over and again through appeals to the classics. Along the way, they developed...
Chapter 2: Britannia Corrupt
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The distinguished South Carolinian planter and merchant Henry Laurens, imprisoned in the Tower of London during the last years of the War for American Independence on charges of high treason against the British Crown, had plenty of time to contemplate the origins and meaning of the enduring imperial contest. Caught on a boat sailing...
Chapter 3: “Judge the Future by the Past ”
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At the foundation of the classical discourse of the American Revolution lay a set of assumptions about history and its meaning. So effective was that language that by elaborating on their relation to, and the relevance of, the classics to revolutionary America, American patriots rendered the classical discourse as a distinct mode of historical thought....
Chapter 4: Taking the Toga
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On the morning of March 6, 1775, according to Rivington’s Gazette, Joseph Warren burst into Boston’s swarming Old South Church dressed in a Ciceronian toga to deliver the fifth annual oration to commemorate the Boston Massacre. Even in a period of extraordinary obsession with Roman antiquity, this episode was remarkable. Only a few years later, toward the conclusion of the War of Independence, however,...
Chapter 5: Cato Americanus
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On September 27, 1787, Cato spoke: “You have already, in Common with the rest of your countrymen, the citizens of other states, given to the world astonishing evidence of your greatness—you have fought under peculiar circumstances, and was successful against a powerful nation.” He admonished, “Beware of those who wish to influence your passions...
Chapter 6: “The Pen of the Historian, or the Imagination of the Poet”
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As the first histories recounting the Revolution were surfacing during the late 1780s and the following decade, Americans were worried how posterity would remember them and their endeavors.1 John Adams, conveying his characteristic insecurities, predicted that “the history...
Epilogue: From Republic to Empire: Beyond 1776
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Are we Rome?” asks a trendy book that compares the United States and the Roman Empire. In light of the return of classical Rome as a common metaphor for the United States this question does not seem as odd as it would have only a few years ago. After a long-term decline in the perceived aptness of Rome as an explanatory model for America, the trend...
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Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 8 b&w illus. (8 redacted), 1 table
Publication Year: 2009