Whose Revolution Was it?
Historians Interpret the Founding
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Whose American Revolution Was It? speaks to the different ways Americans at the time of the Revolution might have answered this question and to the different ways historians in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have interpreted the Revolution for our own time. On one level, the answer to the question in either era might seem...
American Historians Confront “The Transforming Hand of Revolution”
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In August 1926 Charles A. Beard published an enthusiastic review of John Franklin Jameson’s book The American Revolution Considered as a Social Movement in the New Republic. Jameson sent him a warm letter of appreciation and clarifi cation, and Beard responded with even more lavish praise...
I. J. Franklin Jameson
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The Jameson thesis is disarming in its simplicity, as is the form of the book: four short lectures, no more than thirty thousand words, the equivalent today of a hefty journal article, without footnotes, without a bibliographic essay, and with only hints within the text as to the evidence he was drawing on...
II. Progressives and Counter-Progressives
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To enter the domain of historiography one has to pass through the thorny thicket in which scholars are sorted out by “schools.” The dangers in such exercises have been persistently deplored by scholars of almost all persuasions. Jameson’s lament to Beard...
III. New Left , New Social History
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Among historians there were two New Lefts: the first around Studies on the Left (1959 – 67), a journal founded by graduate students in history at the University of Wisconsin associated with William Appleman Williams and the “radicalism of disclosure,” the second, beginning later in the 1960s, associated with Staughton Lynd and Jesse Lemisch...
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In 1949, when I started to prepare for my Ph.D. exam at Northwestern University, I began a loose-leaf notebook, devoting a page to each important scholar in early American history I assumed I was responsible for: Henry Adams, Andrews, Bancroft , Becker, Beer, Beard, through Gipson, Jameson, Perry Miller, Morison,...
Historians Extend the Reach of the American Revolution
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Could the study of the American Revolution ever be over? It may have seemed that way to some historians attending the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians — held, quite appropriately, in Boston — on a late Friday aft ernoon in March 2004...
I. Refocusing on the Founders
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Some the most familiar faces have found renewed life in the new century, and they now invite careful scrutiny in the context of the times, both their own and ours. One compelling indication of the continuing interest in the Revolution is an outburst of biographical studies of the Founders, quite a few of which became sudden...
II. Redefining Freedom in the Revolution
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John Hope Franklin, in a 2006 ceremony at the Library of Congress honoring his long and distinguished career as a pioneering scholar of African American history, spoke of his personal confrontation with a fundamental issue that lies at the heart of the American Revolution: “I have struggled to understand how it is that we could fight...
III. Facing the Revolution from Indian Country
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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Daniel Richter challenged early American historians to do what he and other scholars of Native Americans had been doing for years: to look at the colonial and Revolutionary eras by “facing east from Indian country.” Making that simple-seeming shift in perspective had important implications...
IV. Reconsidering Class in the American Revolution
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To talk about “White Americans” as the winning side raises another question about historical perspective, this one largely internal to white society itself. The near-monolithic identity implicit in the term might well make sense when we consider, as Native Americans...
V. Writing Women into the Revolution
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In 2005, a ballroom-full of scholars in Philadelphia at the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) turned their attention from discussing events that happened two centuries ago to reflect on a significant phenomenon only a quarter century...
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If J. Franklin Jameson were alive again today, he might well want to revise his metaphor for the American Revolution. It may still be fine to say, as he did in 1925, that the “stream of revolution, once started, could not be confined within narrow banks, but spread abroad upon the land,” but even that image hardly captures...
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The authors are greatly indebted to our editor at NYU Press, Deborah Gershenowitz, for her wise counsel, reassurance, and good cheer, particularly in the latter stages of writing. Gabrielle Begue very helpfully managed the manuscript at the press...
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About the Authors
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2011