American Revolutions

American Revolutions

A Continental History, 1750-1804

Book - 2016
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The American Revolution is often portrayed as a high-minded, orderly event whose capstone, the Constitution, provided the ideal framework for a democratic, prosperous nation. Alan Taylor, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, gives us a different creation story in this magisterial history of the nation's founding. Rising out of the continental rivalries of European empires and their native allies, Taylor's Revolution builds like a ground fire overspreading Britain's mainland colonies, fueled by local conditions, destructive, hard to quell. Conflict ignited on the frontier, where settlers clamored to push west into Indian lands against British restrictions, and in the seaboard cities, where commercial elites mobilized riots and boycotts to resist British tax policies. When war erupted, Patriot crowds harassed Loyalists and nonpartisans into compliance with their cause. Brutal guerrilla violence flared all along the frontier from New York to the Carolinas, fed by internal divisions as well as the clash with Britain. Taylor skillfully draws France, Spain, and native powers into a comprehensive narrative of the war that delivers the major battles, generals, and common soldiers with insight and power. With discord smoldering in the fragile new nation through the 1780s, nationalist leaders such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton sought to restrain unruly state democracies and consolidate power in a Federal Constitution. Assuming the mantle of "We the People," the advocates of national power ratified the new frame of government. But their opponents prevailed in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, whose vision of a western "empire of liberty" aligned with the long-standing, expansive ambitions of frontier settlers. White settlement and black slavery spread west, setting the stage for a civil war that nearly destroyed the union created by the founders.
Published: New York :, W.W. Norton & Company,, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780393082814
0393082814
Branch Call Number: 973.3 TAY
Characteristics: xvii, 681 pages :,illustrations, maps ;,25 cm

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r
roystreet
Sep 17, 2016

A marvelous read! With a flowing, supple style judiciously balanced between academic and journalist, the author follows the complexities and ironies of the broad currents with enough detail to make things vivid. I could dip into the book just about anywhere and find something new and interesting. What particularly impressed me was the effort to redress the oversights in the relationship between settlers and native americans, and to slavery.

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r
roystreet
Sep 17, 2016

"In Boston in 1761, 1,000 of the city's 15,000 people were enslaved and only 18 black residents were free. In the mainland colonies as a whole, the enslaved comprised a fifth of the population. . . .

"In 1765 in Charles Town, South Carolina, white protesters denounced the stamp tax while chanting "Liberty!" When watching slaves took up the chant, alarmed whites called out militiamen to patrol the street and enforce a curfew. In a particularly obtuse performance, Richard Henry Lee, a wealthy Patriot in Virginia, had his slaves parade around a county courthouse, carrying banners which denounced Parliament's taxes as "chains of slavery."

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