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For Fear of an Elective King

George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789

by Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon

In the spring of 1789, within weeks of the establishment of the new federal government based on the U.S. Constitution, the Senate and House of Representatives fell into dispute regarding how to address the president. Congress, the press, and individuals debated more than a dozen titles, many of which had royal associations and some of which were clearly monarchical. For Fear of an Elective King is Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon's rich account of the title controversy and its meanings.

The short, intense legislative phase and the prolonged, equally intense public phase animated and shaped the new nation’s broadening political community. Rather than simply reflecting an obsession with etiquette, the question challenged Americans to find an acceptable balance between power and the people’s sovereignty while assuring the country’s place in the Atlantic world. Bartoloni-Tuazon argues that the resolution of the controversy in favor of the modest title of "President" established the importance of recognition of the people's views by the president and evidence of modesty in the presidency, an approach to leadership that fledged the presidency’s power by not flaunting it.

How the country titled the president reflected the views of everyday people, as well as the recognition by social and political elites of the irony that authority rested with acquiescence to egalitarian principles. The controversy’s outcome affirmed the republican character of the country’s new president and government, even as the conflict was the opening volley in increasingly partisan struggles over executive power. As such, the dispute is as relevant today as in 1789.

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For the People

American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s

Ronald P. Formisano

For the People offers a new interpretation of populist political movements from the Revolution to the eve of the Civil War and roots them in the disconnect between the theory of rule by the people and the reality of rule by elected representatives. Ron Formisano seeks to rescue populist movements from the distortions of contemporary opponents as well as the misunderstandings of later historians.

From the Anti-Federalists to the Know-Nothings, Formisano traces the movements chronologically, contextualizing them and demonstrating the progression of ideas and movements. Although American populist movements have typically been categorized as either progressive or reactionary, left-leaning or right-leaning, Formisano argues that most populist movements exhibit liberal and illiberal tendencies simultaneously. Gendered notions of "manhood" are an enduring feature, yet women have been intimately involved in nearly every populist insurgency. By considering these movements together, Formisano identifies commonalities that belie the pattern of historical polarization and bring populist movements from the margins to the core of American history.

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Forced Founders

Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia

Woody Holton

In this provocative reinterpretation of one of the best-known events in American history, Woody Holton shows that when Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other elite Virginians joined their peers from other colonies in declaring independence from Britain, they acted partly in response to grassroots rebellions against their own rule.

The Virginia gentry's efforts to shape London's imperial policy were thwarted by British merchants and by a coalition of Indian nations. In 1774, elite Virginians suspended trade with Britain in order to pressure Parliament and, at the same time, to save restive Virginia debtors from a terrible recession. The boycott and the growing imperial conflict led to rebellions by enslaved Virginians, Indians, and tobacco farmers. By the spring of 1776 the gentry believed the only way to regain control of the common people was to take Virginia out of the British Empire.

Forced Founders uses the new social history to shed light on a classic political question: why did the owners of vast plantations, viewed by many of their contemporaries as aristocrats, start a revolution? As Holton's fast-paced narrative unfolds, the old story of patriot versus loyalist becomes decidedly more complex.

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Forging American Communism

The Life of William Z. Foster

Edward P. Johanningsmeier

A major figure in the history of twentieth-century American radicalism, William Z. Foster (1881-1961) fought his way out of the slums of turn-of-the-century Philadelphia to become a professional revolutionary as well as a notorious and feared labor agitator. Drawing on private family papers, FBI files, and recently opened Russian archives, this first full-scale biography traces Foster's early life as a world traveler, railroad worker, seaman, hobo, union activist, and radical journalist, and also probes the origins and implications of his ill-fated career as a top-echelon Communist official and three-time presidential candidate. Even though Foster's long and eventful life ended in Moscow, where he was given a state funeral in Red Square, he was, as portrayed here, a thoroughly American radical.

The book not only reveals the circumstances of Foster's poverty-stricken childhood in Philadelphia, but also vividly describes his work and travels in the American West. Also included are fascinating accounts of his early political career as a Socialist, "Wobbly," and anarcho-syndicalist, and of his activities as the architect of giant organizing campaigns by the American Federation of Labor, involving hundreds of thousands of workers in the meatpacking and steel industries. The author views Foster's influence in the American Communist movement from the perspective of the history of American labor and unionism, but he also offers a realistic assessment of Foster's career in light of factional intrigues at the highest levels of the Communist International.

Originally published in 1998.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life

edited by Daniel L. Dreisbach, Mark David Hall, Jeffry H. Morrison

This interdisciplinary volume brings together essays on eleven of the founders of the American republic—Abigail Adams, Samuel Adams, Oliver Ellsworth, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, John Jay, Thomas Paine, Edmund Randolph, Benjamin Rush, Roger Sherman, and Mercy Otis Warren—many of whom are either little recognized today or little appreciated for their contributions. The essays focus on the thinking of these men and women on the proper role of religion in public life, including but not limited to the question of the separation of church and state. Their views represent a wide range of opinions, from complete isolation of church and state to tax-supported clergy. These essays present a textured and nuanced view of the society that came to a consensus on how religion would fit in the public life of the new nation. They reveal that religion was more important in the lives and thinking of many of the founders than is often portrayed and that it took the interplay of disparate and contrasting views to frame the constitutional outline that eventually emerged.

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The Founders on Religion

A Book of Quotations

James H. Hutson

What did the founders of America think about religion? Until now, there has been no reliable and impartial compendium of the founders' own remarks on religious matters that clearly answers the question. This book fills that gap. A lively collection of quotations on everything from the relationship between church and state to the status of women, it is the most comprehensive and trustworthy resource available on this timely topic.

The book calls to the witness stand all the usual suspects--George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams--as well as many lesser known but highly influential luminaries, among them Continental Congress President Elias Boudinot, Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll, and John Dickinson, "the Pennsylvania Farmer." It also gives voice to two founding "mothers," Abigail Adams and Martha Washington.

The founders quoted here ranged from the piously evangelical to the steadfastly unorthodox. Some were such avid students of theology that they were treated as equals by the leading ministers of their day. Others vacillated in their conviction. James Madison's religious beliefs appeared to weaken as he grew older. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, seemed to warm to religion late in life. This compilation lays out the founders' positions on more than seventy topics, including the afterlife, the death of loved ones, divorce, the raising of children, the reliability of biblical texts, and the nature of Islam and Judaism.

Partisans of various stripes have long invoked quotations from the founding fathers to lend credence to their own views on religion and politics. This book, by contrast, is the first of its genre to be grounded in the careful examination of original documents by a professional historian. Conveniently arranged alphabetically by topic, it provides multiple viewpoints and accurate quotations.

Readers of all religious persuasions--or of none--will find this book engrossing.

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Founding Friendship

George Washington, James Madison, and the Creation of the American Republic

Stuart Leibiger

Although the friendship between George Washington and James Madison was eclipsed in the early 1790s by the alliances of Madison with Jefferson and Washington with Hamilton, their collaboration remains central to the constitutional revolution that launched the American experiment in republican government. Washington relied heavily on Madison's advice, pen, and legislative skill, while Madison found Washington's prestige indispensable for achieving his goals for the new nation. Together, Stuart Leibiger argues, Washington and Madison struggled to conceptualize a political framework that would respond to the majority without violating minority rights. Stubbornly refusing to sacrifice either of these objectives, they cooperated in helping to build and implement a powerful, extremely republican constitution.

Observing Washington and Madison in light of their special relationship, Leibiger argues against a series of misconceptions about the two men. Madison emerges as neither a strong nationalist of the Hamiltonian variety nor a political consolidationist; he did not retreat from nationalism to states' rights in the 1790s, as other historians have charged. Washington, far from being a majestic figurehead, exhibits a strong constitutional vision and firm control of his administration.

By examining closely Washington and Madison's correspondence and personal visits, Leibiger shows how a marriage of political convenience between two members of the Chesapeake elite grew into a genuine companionship fostered by historical events and a mutual interest in agriculture and science. The development of their friendship, and eventual estrangement, mirrors in fascinating ways the political development of the early Republic.

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Founding Visions

The Ideas, Individuals, and Intersections that Created America

Lance Banning. edited and with an introduction by Todd Estes. foreword by Gordon S. Wood

Lance Banning was one of the most distinguished historians of his generation. His first book, The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology, was a groundbreaking study of the ideas and principles that influenced political conflict in the early American Republic. His revisionist masterpiece, The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic, received the Merle Curti Award in Intellectual History from the Organization of American Historians and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Banning was assembling this collection of his best and most representative writings on the Founding era when his untimely death stalled the project just short of its completion. Now, thanks to the efforts of editor Todd Estes, this illuminating resource is finally available. Founding Visions showcases the work of a historian who shaped the intellectual debates of his time. Featuring a foreword by Gordon S. Wood, the volume presents Banning's most seminal and insightful essays to a new generation of students, scholars, and general readers.

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Freedom and Resistance

A Social History of Black Loyalists in the Bahamas

Christopher Curry

"Brilliant. Puts the Bahamas on the map with Jamaica, Antigua, Nova Scotia, and Sierra Leone as sites where black refugees who fled the American victory in the War of Independence added mightily to the economy and religious life in their new homes."--John Saillant, author of Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753-1833 "A rich social history that recognizes both the unique nature of Bahamian society and the ways in which it fit into an Atlantic context."--Carla Gardina Pestana, author of Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World "Adds a critical dimension to our understanding of the African diaspora experience in the Age of Revolution."--Renée Soulodre-La France, coeditor of Africa and the Americas: Interconnections during the Slave Trade

After the American Revolution, enslaved and free blacks who had been loyal to the British cause arrived in the Bahamas, drawn by British promises of liberty and land. Freedom and Resistance shows how Black Loyalists struggled to find freedom, clashing with white loyalists who tried either to bind them to illegal indentured contracts or to enslave them.

Despite these challenges, Black Loyalists made significant contributions to Bahamian society. They advanced ideas of civil liberty through political activism and armed resistance, built churches and schools that became the foundations of self-reliant black communities, and participated in the emerging market economy.

Christopher Curry highlights the complex ways in which Black Loyalists transplanted and re-inscribed traditions from colonial America into new host societies and in doing so dynamically refashioned their identities and institutions. By comparing the experiences of these Bahamians to those of other Black Loyalist communities in Jamaica and Nova Scotia, he adds a new global dimension to the freedom struggle that spread from the American Revolution.

Christopher Curry is assistant professor of history at the University of The Bahamas. A volume in the series Contested Boundaries, edited by Gene Allen Smith

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Freedom at Risk

The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America, 1780-1865

Carol Wilson

Kidnapping was perhaps the greatest fear of free blacks in pre-Civil War America. Though they may have descended from generations of free-born people or worked to purchase their freedom, free blacks were not able to enjoy the privileges and opportunities of white Americans. They lived with the constant threat of kidnapping and enslavement, against which they had little recourse.

Most kidnapped free blacks were forcibly abducted, but other methods, such as luring victims with job offers or falsely claiming free people as fugitive slaves, were used as well. Kidnapping of blacks was actually facilitated by numerous state laws, as well as the federal fugitive slave laws of 1793 and 1850. Greed motivated kidnappers, who were assured high profits on the sale of their victims. As the internal slave trade increased in the early nineteenth century, so did kidnapping.

If greed provided the motivation for the crime, racism helped it to continue unabated. Victims usually found it extremely difficult to regain their freedom through a legal system that reflected society's racist views, perpetuated a racial double standard, and considered all blacks slaves until proven otherwise. Fortunate was the victim who received assistance, sometimes from government officials, most often from abolitionists. Frequently, however, the black community was forced to protect its own and organized to do so, sometimes by working within the law, sometimes by meeting violence with violence.

Mining newspaper accounts, memoirs, slave narratives, court records, letters, abolitionist society minutes, and government documents, Carol Wilson has provided a needed addition to our picture of free black life in the United States.

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