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In today’s United States, the legacy of the American Revolution looms large. From presidential speeches to bestselling biographies, from conservative politics to school pageants, everybody knows something about the Revolution. Yet what was a messy, protracted, divisive, and destructive war has calcified into a glorified founding moment of the American nation. Disparate events with equally diverse participants have been reduced to a few key scenes and characters, presided over by well-meaning and wise old men. Recollections of the Revolution did not always take today’s form. In this lively collection of essays, historians and literary scholars consider how the first three generations of American citizens interpreted their nation’s origins. The volume introduces readers to a host of individuals and groups both well known and obscure, from Molly Pitcher and “forgotten father” John Dickinson to African American Baptists in Georgia and antebellum pacifists. They show how the memory of the Revolution became politicized early in the nation’s history, as different interests sought to harness its meaning for their own ends. No single faction succeeded, and at the outbreak of the Civil War the American people remained divided over how to remember the Revolution.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
  2. p. C
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Table of Contents
  2. pp. vii-x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Introduction: The Revolution in American Life from 1776 to the Civil War
  2. Michael A. McDonnell, Clare Corbould, Frances M. Clarke, and W. Fitzhugh Brundage
  3. pp. 1-16
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  1. Part I: The Revolutionary Generation Remembers
  1. War and Nationhood: Founding Myths and Historical Realities
  2. Michael A. McDonnell
  3. pp. 19-40
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  1. “A Natural & Unalienable Right”: New England Revolutionary Petitions and African American Identity
  2. Daniel R. Mandell
  3. pp. 41-57
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  1. Forgotten Founder: Revolutionary Memory and John Dickinson’s Reputation
  2. Peter Bastian
  3. pp. 58-74
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  1. The Graveyard Aesthetics of Revolutionary Elegiac Verse: Remembering the Revolution as a Sacred Cause
  2. Evert Jan van Leeuwen
  3. pp. 75-92
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  1. “Starving Memory”: Antinarrating the American Revolution
  2. William Huntting Howell
  3. pp. 93-109
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  1. Public Memories, Private Lives: The First Greatest Generation Remembers the Revolutionary War
  2. Caroline Cox
  3. pp. 110-124
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  1. Part II: Transmitting Memories
  1. “More than Ordinary Patriotism”: Living History in the Memory Work of George Washington Parke Custis
  2. Seth C. Bruggeman
  3. pp. 127-143
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  1. Plagiarism in Pursuit of Historical Truth: George Chalmers and the Patriotic Legacy of Loyalist History
  2. Eileen Ka-May Cheng
  3. pp. 144-161
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  1. Emma Willard’s “True Mnemonic of History”: America’s First Textbooks, Proto-Feminism, and the Memory of the Revolution
  2. Keith Beutler
  3. pp. 162-178
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  1. Remembering and Forgetting: War, Memory, and Identity in the Post-Revolutionary Mohawk Valley
  2. James Paxton
  3. pp. 179-197
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  1. “Lie There My Darling, While I Avenge Ye!”: Anecdotes, Collective Memory, and the Legend of Molly Pitcher
  2. Emily Lewis Butterfield
  3. pp. 198-214
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  1. Part III: Dividing Memories
  1. Forgetting History: Antebellum American Peace Reformers and the Specter of the Revolution
  2. Carolyn Eastman
  3. pp. 217-233
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  1. “Of Course we Claim to be Americans”: Revolution, Memory, and Race in Up-Country Georgia Baptist Churches, 1772–1849
  2. Daryl Black
  3. pp. 234-248
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  1. “A Strange and Crowded History”: Transnational Revolution and Empire in George Lippard’s Washington and his Generals
  2. Tara Deshpande
  3. pp. 249-264
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  1. “The Sacred Ashes of the First of Men”: Edward Everett, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, and Late Antebellum Unionism
  2. Matthew Mason
  3. pp. 265-279
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  1. Martyred Blood and Avenging Spirits: Revolutionary Martyrs and Heroes as Inspiration for the U.S. Civil War
  2. Sarah J. Purcell
  3. pp. 280-293
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  1. Old-Fashioned Tea Parties: Revolutionary Memory in Civil War Sanitary Fairs
  2. Frances M. Clarke
  3. pp. 294-312
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  1. Notes on Contributors
  2. pp. 313-318
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 319-330
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  1. Back Cover
  2. p. BC
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