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Empowering Words

Outsiders and Authorship in Early America

Karen A. Weyler

Standing outside elite or even middling circles, outsiders who were marginalized by limitations on their freedom and their need to labor for a living had a unique grasp on the profoundly social nature of print and its power to influence public opinion. In Empowering Words, Karen A. Weyler explores how outsiders used ephemeral formats such as broadsides, pamphlets, and newspapers to publish poetry, captivity narratives, formal addresses, and other genres with wide appeal in early America.

To gain access to print, outsiders collaborated with amanuenses and editors, inserted their stories into popular genres and cheap media, tapped into existing social and religious networks, and sought sponsors and patrons. They wrote individually, collaboratively, and even corporately, but writing for them was almost always an act of connection. Disparate levels of literacy did not necessarily entail subordination on the part of the lessliterate collaborator. Even the minimally literate and the illiterate understood the potential for print to be life changing, and outsiders shrewdly employed strategies to assert themselves within collaborative dynamics.

Empowering Words covers an array of outsiders including artisans; the minimally literate; the poor, indentured, or enslaved; and racial minorities. By focusing not only on New England, the traditional stronghold of early American literacy, but also on southern towns such as Williamsburg and Charleston, Weyler limns a more expansive map of early American authorship

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Era of Experimentation

American Political Practices in the Early Republic

Daniel Peart

In Era of Experimentation, Daniel Peart challenges the pervasive assumption that the present-day political system, organized around two competing parties, represents the logical fulfillment of participatory democracy. Recent accounts of "the rise of American democracy" between the Revolution and the Civil War applaud political parties for opening up public life to mass participation and making government responsive to the people. Yet this celebratory narrative tells only half of the story.

By exploring American political practices during the early 1820s, a period of particular flux in the young republic, Peart argues that while parties could serve as vehicles for mass participation, they could also be employed to channel, control, and even curb it. Far from equating democracy with the party system, Americans freely experimented with alternative forms of political organization and resisted efforts to confine their public presence to the polling place.

Era of Experimentation demonstrates the sheer variety of political practices that made up what subsequent scholars have labeled "democracy" in the early United States. Peart also highlights some overlooked consequences of the nationalization of competitive two-party politics during the antebellum period, particularly with regard to the closing of alternative avenues for popular participation.

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An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam

David Humphreys

David Humphreys was aide-de-camp to Washington during the American Revolution. His Life of Israel Putnam, originally published in 1788, has rightly been described as “the first biography of an American written by an American.” It is, as William C. Dowling observes, “a classic of revolutionary writing, very readable and immensely interesting in what it says about the temper of the new republic in the period immediately after the American Revolution.” The subject—General Israel Putnam—is remembered to history and legend as exclaiming: “Don’t fire ’til you see the whites of their eyes!” to American soldiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill. As Professor Dowling notes, “All the episodes are retold—Bunker Hill, the Battle of White Plains, the crossing of the Delaware, the Battle of Princeton—but from the perspective of one who was there throughout, and who always permits us to see Putnam as the sort of character by whom history is, in the last analysis, made.” Humphreys wrote the biography when formation of the Society of the Cincinnati, composed of men who were officers in the Revolution, “focused debate in the new republic about the competing claims of individual liberty and the good of the community.”

William C. Dowling is a Professor of English at Rutgers University

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Essays in the History of Early American Law

David H. Flaherty

This collection of outstanding essays in the history of early American law is designed to meet the demand for a basic introduction to the literature of colonial and early United States law. Eighteen essays from historical and legal journals by outstanding authorities explore the major themes in American legal history from colonial beginnings to the early nineteenth century.

Originally published in 1969.

A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

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Essays on the American Revolution

Stephen G. Kurtz

These eight original essays by a group of America's most distinguished scholars include the following themes: the meaning and significance of the Revolution; the long-term, underlying causes of the war; violence and the Revolution; the military conflict; politics in the Continental Congress; the role of religion in the Revolution; and the effect of the war on the social order. This is the product of the celebrated Symposium on the American Revolution held in 1971 by the institute.

Originally published 1973.

A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

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Establishing Religious Freedom

Jefferson's Statute in Virginia

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Eutaw Springs

The Final Battle of the American Revolution's Southern Campaign

Robert M. Dunkerly

The Battle of Eutaw Springs took place on September 8, 1781, and was among the last in the War of Independence. It was brutal in its combat and reprisals, with Continental and Whig militia fighting British regulars and Loyalist regiments. Although its outcome was seemingly inconclusive, the battle, fought near present-day Eutawville, South Carolina, contained all the elements that defined the war in the South. In Eutaw Springs: The Final Battle of the American Revolution’s Southern Campaign, Robert M. Dunkerly and Irene B. Boland tell the story of this lesser known and under-studied battle of the Revolutionary War’s Southern Campaign. Shrouded in myth and misconception, the battle has also been overshadowed by the surrender of Yorktown Eutaw Springs represented lost opportunities for both armies. The American forces were desperate for a victory in 1781, and Gen. Nathanael Greene finally had the ground of his own choosing. British forces under Col. Alexander Stewart were equally determined to keep a solid grip on the territory they still held in the South Carolina lowcountry. In one of the bloodiest battles of the war, both armies sustained heavy casualties with each side losing nearly 20 percent of its soldiers. Neither side won the hard-fought battle, and controversies plagued both sides in the aftermath. Dunkerly and Boland analyze the engagement and its significance within the context of the war’s closing months, study the area’s geology and setting, and recount the action using primary sources, aided by recent archaeology.

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The Evolution of the Southern Backcountry

A Case Study of Lunenburg County, Virginia, 1746-1832

By Richard R. Beeman

The Evolution of the Southern Backcountry is the story of an expanding frontier. Richard Beeman offers a lively and well-written account of the creation of bonds of community among the farmers who settled Lunenburg Country, far to the south and west of Virginia's center of political and economic activity.

Beeman's view of the nature of community provides an important dynamic model of the transmission of culture from older, more settled regions of Virginia to the southern frontier. He describes how the southern frontier was influenced by those staples of American historical development: opportunity, mobility, democracy, and ethnic pluralism; and he shows how the county evolved socially, culturally, and economically to become distinctly southern.

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Experiencing Empire

Power, People, and Revolution in Early America

Patrick Griffin

Born of clashing visions of empire in England and the colonies, the American Revolution saw men and women grappling with power— and its absence—in dynamic ways. On both sides of the revolutionary divide, Americans viewed themselves as an imperial people. This perspective conditioned how they understood the exercise of power, how they believed governments had to function, and how they situated themselves in a world dominated by other imperial players.

Eighteenth-century Americans experienced what can be called an “imperial-revolutionary moment." Over the course of the eighteenth century, the colonies were integrated into a broader Atlantic world, a process that forced common men and women to reexamine the meanings and influences of empire in their own lives. The tensions inherent in this process led to revolution. After the Revolution, the idea of empire provided order—albeit at a cost to many—during a chaotic period.

Viewing the early republic from an imperial-revolutionary perspective, the essays in this collection consider subjects as far-ranging as merchants, winemaking, slavery, sex, and chronology to nostalgia, fort construction, and urban unrest. They move from the very center of the empire in London to the far western frontier near St. Louis, offering a new way to consider America’s most formative period.

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The Federalist Papers

The Gideon Edition

George Carey

The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, constitutes a text central to the American political tradition. Published in newspapers in 1787 and 1788 to explain and promote ratification of the proposed Constitution for the United States, which up to then were bound by the Articles of Confederation, The Federalist remains today of singular importance to students of liberty around the world.

The new Liberty Fund edition presents the text of the Gideon edition of The Federalist, published in 1818, which includes the preface to the text by Jacob Gideon as well as the responses and corrections prepared by Madison to the McLean edition of 1810. The McLean edition had presented the Federalist texts as corrected by Hamilton and Jay but not reviewed by Madison.

The Liberty Fund Federalist also includes a new introduction, a Reader’s Guide outlining—section by section—the arguments of The Federalist, a glossary, and ten appendixes, including the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Virginia Resolution Proposing the Annapolis Convention, and other key documents leading up to the transmission of the Constitution to the governors of the several states. Finally, the Constitution of the United States and Amendments is given, with marginal cross-references to the pertinent passages in The Federalist that address, argue for, or comment upon the specific term, phrase, section, or article of the Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804) was secretary and aide-de-camp to Washington in 1777–81, a member of the Continental Congress in 1782–83 and 1787–88, a representative from New York to the Annapolis Convention in 1786 and to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, first U. S. secretary of the treasury in 1789–95, and inspector general of the army, with the rank of major general, from 1798 to 1800. His efforts to defeat Aaron Burr for the presidency in 1800-01 and for the governorship of New York in 1804 led to his fatal duel with Burr.

John Jay (1745–1829) was a member of the Continental Congress in 1774 through 1779 and its president in 1778–79, drafter of New York’s first constitution in 1777, chief justice of the New York supreme court from 1777 to 1778, U. S. minister to Spain in 1779, a member of the commission to negotiate peace with Great Britain in Paris in 1787, U. S. secretary of foreign affairs from 1784 to 1789, Chief Justice of the United States from 1789 to 1795, and governor of New York from 1795 to 1801.

James Madison (1751–1836) was a member of the Virginia legislature in 1776–80 and 1784–86, of the Continental Congress in 1780–83, and of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where he earned the title “father of the U. S. Constitution.” He was a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from 1789 to 1797, where he was a sponsor of the Bill of Rights and an opponent of Hamilton’s financial measures. He was the author of the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 in opposition to the U. S. alien and sedition laws. He was U. S. secretary of state in 1801–09, President of the U. S. in 1809–17, and rector of the University of Virginia, 1826–36.

George W. Carey is a professor of government at Georgetown University and the editor of several works on American government. He is the author of In Defense of the Constitution, published by Liberty Fund.

James McClellan (1937-2005) was James Bryce Visiting Fellow in American Studies at the Institute of United States Studies, University of London, and the author of Liberty, Order, and Justic

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