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Dependence and Interest: The Political Economy of the First British Empire J. M. BUMS TED Stephen G. Kurtz and James H. Hutson, eds. Essays on the American Revolution. Chapel Hill and New York: The University of North Carolina Press and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1973. 320 pp. Alison Gilbert Olson. Anglo-American Politics 1660-177 5: The Relationship Between Parties in England and Colonial America. New York and Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1973. 192 pp. James A. Henretta. "Salutary Neglect": Colonial Administration under the Duke of Newcastle. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972. 381 pp. Joseph Albert Ernst. Money and Politics in America 1755-1775: A Study in the Currency Act of 1764 and the Polit-ical Economy of Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1973. 403 pp. P. Langford. The First Rockingham Administration 1765-1766. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973. 318 pp. Bernard Bailyn. The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974. 423 pp. The United States of America is about to celebrate its two-hundredth birthday, although there seems considerable uncertainty about the enterprise . Unlike the Revolutionary Centennial of 1876 and the Civil War Centennial of 1961-1965, the Bicentennial of the American republic appears likely to pass virtually without notice, cynically ignored by professional historians and average citizens alike. The key to the apathy undoubtedly lies in the present mood of the American people. In 1876 the United States was in the first flower of a full-blown industrial revolution after the resolution of the searing divisions of Civil War. America was growing, prospering, and on the eve of appearance on the world stage as a first-rank power, capable even of its own colonial pretensions. In 1876, Americans were confident. They were complacent about their present (though some labelled it the "Age of Greed"), enthusiastic about their future, and secure in their past. The Revolution was accepted in 1876 by Americans for what Thomas Jefferson told the world it was in the DeclaraTHE CANADIAN REVIEW OF AMERICAN STUDIES VOL, VI, NO. 1, SPRING 1975 tion of Independence - an attempt to achieve the high ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by overturning the despotism of a wicked monarch. Historians of the time substantiated such an interpretation. The ideals had been worth fighting for, and by and large, they were held to 1 have been realized. Times have changed. Most Americans now wonder whether the revolutionary ideals have been attained, and debate whether recourse to violence can ever be justified. The Revolutionary Bicentennial has clearly been a victim of the Civil Rights movement (including its later manifestations of social unrest in the name of Black, Female, Indian, and Gay Power), the Vietnam War, and Watergate. The apathy (rather more than hostility) with which planned celebrations are being greeted is illustrative of the deep malaise in the nation's social fabric. (Canada, which prides itself on an absence of visible display of national chauvinism, managed a big bash for the centennial of Confederation.) In recent years, Americans have not only been repeatedly told by critics that the nation is fundamentally rotten, they have come to believe it. Group after minority group has come forward to point out that it has never received the benefits so eloquently catalogued by Jefferson, and to demand them NOW. Observing the cancer first-hand in its various symbolic manifestations, such as Watergate, has certainly contributed to disenchantment. Vietnam and Watergate have clearly tarnished the American image of public leadership. Many have turned for escape to the past, but it is a nostalgia for the recent past of the media rather than the past of the historian which is sought. Americans prefer wallowing in the bathos of their own personal histories - of the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, and even 1960's - to celebrating an American Revolution with which they feel so little positive identity. Insofar as Americans do identify with the American Revolution in the highly explosive 1970' s, one suspects that many are more than a little suspicious - even fearful - of an event in which violence against the established order created a new nation. The precedents are more than a little dangerous. Both the rhetoric...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 99-109
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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