How the American Response to British Plans for Parliamentary Taxation Set in Motion the Movement for Independence
The year 1764 is of extraordinary importance to the history of the American Revolution. It was a watershed year in the relationship between Great Britain and its North American colonies.
In 1763, the British began to strictly enforce the laws of trade in order to advance a newly formulated colonial policy that included use of customs duties as a means of drawing revenue from the colonies. Americans early in 1764 protested that the laws being enforced were economically unsound and would be destructive to the trade of the colonies. Despite knowing of the American discontent, British officials moved forward with their new colonial policy. Resolutions made by the House of Commons in March 1764 not only codified a more restrictive trade policy, but revealed a plan to impose direct parliamentary taxation. A resolution to levy stamp duties brought forth a storm of American petitions and essays in late 1764 that constitute the beginning of what has become known as the Stamp Act Crisis.
In 1764: The First Year of the American Revolution, Ken Shumate presents the American arguments against the new British policy. The most prominent protests against direct parliamentary taxation were made by New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Supporting the petitions were thoughtful essays by James Otis, Oxenbridge Thacher, Richard Bland, Thomas Fitch, and Stephen Hopkins. Shumate demonstrates the importance of these petitions and essays, written before the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765, as establishing the constitutional basis for the heated protests of that year and the following decade. The British interpretation of these writings as rejecting the supremacy of Parliament—even the sovereignty of Great Britain—further motivated the need for the Stamp Act as a demonstration of the fundamental right of Parliament to levy such taxes.
Carol Sue Humphrey’s The American Revolution and the Pressargues that newspapers played an important role during America’s struggle for independence by keeping Americans engaged in the war even when the fighting occurred in distant locales. From the moment that the colonials received word of Britain’s new taxes in 1764 until reports of the peace treaty arrived in 1783, the press constituted the major source of information about events and developments in the conflict with the mother country. Both Benjamin Franklin, one of the Revolution’s greatest leaders, and Ambrose Serle, a Loyalist, described the press as an “engine” that should be used to advance the cause. The efforts of Patriot printers to keep readers informed about the war helped ensure ultimate success by boosting morale and rallying Americans to the cause until victory was achieved. As Humphrey illustrates, Revolutionary-era newspapers provided the political and ideological unity that helped Americans secure their independence and create a new nation.
Winner of the 2016 New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Authors Award for the Edited Works Category
Battles were fought in many colonies during the American Revolution, but New Jersey was home to more sustained and intense fighting over a longer period of time. The nine essays in The American Revolution in New Jersey, depict the many challenges New Jersey residents faced at the intersection of the front lines and the home front.
Unlike other colonies, New Jersey had significant economic power in part because of its location between the major ports of New York and Philadelphia. New people and new ideas arriving in the colony fostered tensions between Loyalists and Patriots that were at the core of the Revolution. Enlightenment thinking shaped the minds of New Jersey’s settlers as they began to question the meaning of freedom in the colony. Yeoman farmers demanded ownership of the land they worked on and members of the growing Quaker denomination decried the evils of slavery and spearheaded the abolitionist movement in the state. When larger portions of New Jersey were occupied by British forces early in the war, the unity of the state was crippled, pitting neighbor against neighbor for seven years.
The essays in this collection identify and explore the interconnections between the events on the battlefield and the daily lives of ordinary colonists during the Revolution. Using a wide historical lens, the contributors to The American Revolution in New Jersey capture the decades before and after the conflict as they interpret the causes of the war and the consequences of New Jersey’s reaction to the Revolution.
For most Americans, the Revolution's main achievement is summed up by the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Yet far from a straightforward attempt to be free of Old World laws and customs, the American founding was also a bid for inclusion in the community of nations as it existed in 1776. America aspired to diplomatic recognition under international law and the authority to become a colonizing power itself.
As Eliga Gould shows in this reappraisal of American history, the Revolution was an international transformation of the first importance. To conform to the public law of Europe's imperial powers, Americans crafted a union nearly as centralized as the one they had overthrown, endured taxes heavier than any they had faced as British colonists, and remained entangled with European Atlantic empires long after the Revolution ended.
No factor weighed more heavily on Americans than the legally plural Atlantic where they hoped to build their empire. Gould follows the region's transfiguration from a fluid periphery with its own rules and norms to a place where people of all descriptions were expected to abide by the laws of Western Europe-"civilized" laws that precluded neither slavery nor the dispossession of Native Americans.
Considered One of the First Acts of Rebellion to British Authority Over the American Colonies, a Fresh Account Placing the Incident into Historical Context
Between the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773—a period historians refer to as “the lull”—a group of prominent Rhode Islanders rowed out to His Majesty’s schooner Gaspee,which had run aground six miles south of Providence while on an anti-smuggling patrol. After threatening and shooting its commanding officer, the raiders looted the vessel and burned it to the waterline. Despite colony-wide sympathy for the June 1772 raid, neither the government in Providence nor authorities in London could let this pass without a response. As a result, a Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by Rhode Island governor Joseph Wanton zealously investigated the incident. In The Burning of His Majesty’s Schooner Gaspee: An Attack on Crown Rule Before the American Revolution, historian Steven Park reveals that what started out as a customs battle over the seizure of a prominent citizen’s rum was soon transformed into the spark that re-ignited Patriot fervor. The significance of the raid was underscored by a fiery Thanksgiving Day sermon given by a little-known Baptist minister in Boston. His inflammatory message was reprinted in several colonies and was one of the most successful pamphlets of the pre-Independence period. The commission turned out to be essentially a sham and made the administration in London look weak and ineffective. In the wake of the Gaspee affair, Committees of Correspondence soon formed in all but one of the original thirteen colonies, and later East India Company tea would be defiantly dumped into Boston Harbor.
Nine Historians and Writers Investigate the Role of Cavalry in the War for Independence
From the bitterly contested no-man’s-land between American and British lines in New York and New Jersey to the scorching pine forests of the South, the cavalry of both armies fought valiantly throughout the American Revolution. This volume explores several aspects of cavalry’s role in the war, which has often been overlooked in general histories. The topics covered include the development of the Continental Army’s cavalry arm, European influences on American cavalry training and tactics, accounts of several important cavalry raids and battles, and histories of mounted units such as the Continental Light Dragoons, American rangers in the South Carolina backcountry, and the British army’s Queen’s Rangers and “Black Dragoons,” the latter force composed entirely of former slaves. The essays also examine the roles of important commanders, including Brigadier General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, Lieutenant Colonel William Washington, and Colonel Anthony Walton White of the American army, and British cavalry leaders Banastre “Bloody Ban” Tarleton and John Graves Simcoe, as well as the American prisoners of war who switched sides and served in the “British Legion.” The authors of the essays include acclaimed military historians Gregory J. W. Urwin and Lawrence E. Babits. Readers with a general interest in military history, as well as those with more specific interests in the American Revolution or the history of the cavalry arm, and anyone who wishes to undertake further study of these subjects, will find the essays fresh, engaging, and informative.
E. Stanly Godbold, Jr. (1942- ), is a historian who is writing a two-volumbe biography of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. His first volume was published by Oxford Univesity Press in 2010 and has attracted much attention for its positive interpretation of the Carters. He is also the author of Ellen Glasgow and the Woman Within, Christopher Gadsden and the American Revolution, and Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief: The Life of William Holland Thomas. He lives in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi.
Designed for use in courses, this abridged edition of the four-volume Constitutional History of the American Revolution demonstrates how significant constitutional disputes were in instigating the American Revolution. John Phillip Reid addresses the central constitutional issues that divided the American colonists from their English legislators: the authority to tax, the authority to legislate, the security of rights, the nature of law, the foundation of constitutional government in custom and contractarian theory, and the search for a constitutional settlement. Reid's distinctive analysis discusses the irreconcilable nature of this conflict—irreconcilable not because leaders in politics on both sides did not desire a solution, but because the dynamics of constitutional law impeded a solution that permitted the colonies to remain part of the dominions of George III.
John Phillip Reid addresses the central constitutional issues that divided the American colonists from their English legislators: the authority to tax, the authority to legislate, the security of rights, the nature of law, the foundation of constitutional government in custom and contractarian theory, and the search for a constitutional settlement.
John Phillip Reid addresses the central constitutional issues that divided the American colonists from their English legislators: the authority to tax, the authority to legislate, the security of rights, the nature of law, the foundation of constitutional government in custom and contractarian theory, and the search for a constitutional settlement.
This is the first comprehensive study of the constitutionality of the Parliamentary legislation cited by the American Continental Congress as a justification for its rebellion against Great Britain in 1776. The content and purpose of that legislation is well known to historians, but here Reid places it in the context of eighteenth-century constitutional doctrine and discusses its legality in terms of the intellectual premises of eighteenth-century Anglo-American legal values.
The third installment in a planned four-volume work, The Authority to Legislate follows The Authority to Tax and The Authority of Rights. In this volume, Reid shows that the inflexibility of British constitutional principle left no room for settlement or change; Parliament became entrapped by the imperatives of the constitution it was struggling to preserve. He analyzes the legal theories put forward in support of Parliament’s authority to legislate and the specific precedents cited as evidence of that authority.
Reid’s examination of both the debate over the authority to legislate and the constitutional theory underlying the debate shows the extent to which the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence were actions taken in defense of the rule of law. Considered as a whole, Reid’s Constitutional History of the American Revolution contributes to an understanding of the central role of legal and constitutional standards, especially concern for rule by law, in the development of the American nation.
This is the first comprehensive study of the constitutionality of the Parliamentary legislation cited by the American Continental Congress as a justification for its rebellion against Great Britain in 1776. The content and purpose of that legislation is well known to historians, but here John Phillip Reid places it in the context of eighteenth-century constitutional doctrine and discusses its legality in terms of the intellectual premises of eighteenth-century Anglo-American legal values. The Authority of Law is the last of a four-volume work, preceded by The Authority to Tax, The Authority of Rights, and The Authority to Legislate. In these previous volumes, Reid argued that there would have been no rebellion had taxation been the only constitutional topic of controversy, that issues of rights actually played a larger role in the drafting of state and federal constitutions than they did in instigating a rebellion, and that the American colonists finally took to the battlefield against the British because of statutes that forced Americans to either concede the authority to legislate or leave the empire.
Expanding on the evidence presented in the first three volumes, The Authority of Law determines the constitutional issues dividing American whigs from British imperialists. Reid summarizes these issues as “the supremacy issue,” “the Glorious Revolution issue,” “the liberty issue,” and the “representation issue.” He then raises a compelling question: why, with so many outstanding lawyers participating in the debate, did no one devise a constitutionally legal way out of the standoff? Reid makes an original suggestion. No constitutional solution was found because the British were more threatened by American legal theory than the Americans were by British theory. British lawyers saw the future of liberty in Great Britain endangered by the American version of constitutional law.
Considered as a whole, Reid’s Constitutional History of the American Revolution contributes to an understanding of the central role of legal and constitutional standards, especially concern for rule by law, in the development of the American nation.
In this eye-opening account, Eli Merritt reveals the deep political divisions that almost tore the Union apart during the American Revolution. So fractious were the founders’ political fights that they feared the War of Independence might end in disunion and civil war.
Instead of disbanding into separate regional confederacies, the founders managed to unite for the sake of liberty and self-preservation. In so doing, they succeeded in holding the young nation together, in part by transcending the baser angels of their natures. To achieve this, they forged grueling compromises, including the resolution for independence in 1776, the Mississippi-Fisheries Compromise of 1779, and the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781.
In addition to bringing new insights into the history of the American Revolution, Disunion Among Ourselves has inevitable resonances with our present era of political hyperpolarization and serves as a touchstone for contemporary politics, reminding us that the founders overcame far tougher times than our own through commitment to ethical constitutional democracy and compromise.
Known as the “Black” Regiment, the Story of the First Continental Army Unit Composed of African American and Native American Enlisted Men
In December 1777, the Continental army was encamped at Valley Forge and faced weeks of cold and hunger, as well as the prospect of many troops leaving as their terms expired in the coming months. If the winter were especially cruel, large numbers of soldiers would face death or contemplate desertion. Plans were made to enlist more men, but as the states struggled to fill quotas for enlistment, Rhode Island general James Mitchell Varnum proposed the historic plan that a regiment of slaves might be recruited from his own state, the smallest in the union, but holding the largest population of slaves in New England. The commander-in-chief’s approval of the plan would set in motion the forming of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. The “black regiment,” as it came to be known, was composed of indentured servants, Narragansett Indians, and former slaves. This was not without controversy. While some in the Rhode Island Assembly and in other states railed that enlisting slaves would give the enemy the impression that not enough white men could be raised to fight the British, owners of large estates gladly offered their slaves and servants, both black and white, in lieu of a son or family member enlisting. The regiment fought with distinction at the battle of Rhode Island, and once joined with the 2nd Rhode Island before the siege of Yorktown in 1781, it became the first integrated battalion in the nation’s history. In From Slaves to Soldiers: The 1st Rhode Island Regiment in the American Revolution, historian Robert A. Geake tells the important story of the “black regiment” from the causes that led to its formation, its acts of heroism and misfortune, as well as the legacy left by those men who enlisted to earn their freedom.
Revolutionary War general Thomas Posey (1750-1818) lived his life against the backdrop of one of the most dramatic periods in American history. Posey, who played a minor role in the actual War for Independence, went on to participate in the development and foundation of several states in the transappalachian West. His experiences on the late 18th- and early 19th-century American frontier were varied and in a certain sense extraordinary; he served as Indian agent in Illinois Territory; as Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, as U.S. Senator from Louisiana, and as Governor of Indiana during its transition from territorial status to statehood.
His biographer speculates on the contrasting influences of Thomas's ne'er-do-well father, Captain John Posey, and the family's close friend, General George Washington. Posey's progress is then followed as he raises his own family in the newly formed nation. Of particular interest is an appendix containing a detailed analysis of evidence available to support popular 29th-century speculation that Thomas Posey was, in fact, George Washington's illicit son.
To the original text of what has become a classic of American historical literature, Bernard Bailyn adds a substantial essay, "Fulfillment," as a Postscript. Here he discusses the intense, nation-wide debate on the ratification of the Constitution, stressing the continuities between that struggle over the foundations of the national government and the original principles of the Revolution. This detailed study of the persistence of the nation's ideological origins adds a new dimension to the book and projects its meaning forward into vital current concerns.
The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, awarded both the Pulitzer and the Bancroft prizes, has become a classic of American historical literature. Hailed at its first appearance as “the most brilliant study of the meaning of the Revolution to appear in a generation,” it was enlarged in a second edition to include the nationwide debate on the ratification of the Constitution, hence exploring not only the Founders’ initial hopes and aspirations but also their struggle to implement their ideas in constructing the national government.
Now, in a new preface, Bernard Bailyn reconsiders salient features of the book and isolates the Founders’ profound concern with power. In pamphlets, letters, newspapers, and sermons they returned again and again to the problem of the uses and misuses of power—the great benefits of power when gained and used by popular consent and the political and social devastation when acquired by those who seize it by force or other means and use it for their personal benefit.
This fiftieth anniversary edition will be welcomed by readers familiar with Bailyn’s book, and it will introduce a new generation to a work that remains required reading for anyone seeking to understand the nation’s historical roots.
A New Edition of an Important Interpretation of One of the Greatest Events in World History
The Revolutionary generation believed they were living in dangerous, turbulent times. Their uprising against British imperial authority beginning in the 1760s represented an attempt to preserve their liberties in the face of what they perceived as a conspiracy from above, ultimately brought on by a tyrannical king and Parliament. The actual number of insurgents—we call them rebels or patriots—represented no more than 20 to 25 percent of the populace. Approximately the same number of persons refused to renounce their loyalty to the British Crown; and thousands of them joined British arms to crush the patriot insurrection. Not committed to supporting either side were large numbers of neutrals whose allegiance varied with their proximity to competing military forces. Once independence was secured, however, a great shift occurred. Some key Revolutionary leaders began to worry that the common people, if given too much political authority, would produce agitation from below that could destroy the delicate fabric of the newly established republic. Reckoning with this social and political disorder resulted in a series of constitutional settlements. What emerged was a more democratic system of government operating, at least theoretically, in the name of a sovereign people who had replaced the king and Parliament.
In Insurrection: The American Revolution and Its Meaning, award-winning historian James Kirby Martin discusses the causes, course, and consequences of the War for Independence. While interpretations of the Revolution and its short- and long-term meaning abound, Martin emphasizes that the insurrection against British monarchism led to more profound changes in human institutions and ideals than many of the Revolutionary leaders actually envisioned or wanted. Once unleashed, the genie of greater freedom and liberty for all could not be forced back into the bottle, no matter how much some persons would have desired.
The Critical Role of Espionage During the War of Independence and the Techniques Spies Used
During the American Revolution, espionage was critical to the successes and failures of both Continental and British efforts, and those employed in cloakand- dagger operations always risked death. While the most notorious episode of spying during the war—the Benedict Arnold affair—was a failure, most intelligence operations succeeded. Spycraft was no more wholly embraced than by the American commander-in-chief, George Washington. Washington relied on a vast spy network and personally designed sophisticated battle plan deceptions and counterintelligence efforts, some surprisingly modern in form. In Invisible Ink: Spycraft of the American Revolution, award-winning author John A. Nagy briefly traces the history of spy techniques from ancient China through Elizabethan England before embarking on the various techniques used by spies on both sides of the war to exchange secret information. These methods included dictionary codes, diplomatic ciphers, dead drops, hidden compartments (such as a hollowed-out bullet or a woman’s garter), and even musical notation, as well as efforts of counterintelligence, including “Black Chambers,” where postal correspondence was read by cryptologists. Throughout, the author provides examples of the various codes and ciphers employed, many of which have not been previously described. In addition, the author analyzes some of the key spy rings operating during the war, most notably the Culper ring that provided information to Washington from inside British-controlled New York City. Based on nearly two decades of primary research, including the author’s discovery of previously unrecognized spies and methods, Invisible Ink is a major contribution to the history of conflict and technology.
Jonathan Odell's live and writings give us insight into the American Revolution by revealing Loyalist ideology—the ambitious few have led the gullible multitude to slaughter—and he rails against the British military for fighting a war of containment aimed at bringing the rebel leadership to negotiation. This policy effectually trapped the Loyalists between the British army, which ignored them, and the rebels, who despised them. One of the best-educated of the colonialists, Odell, a physician turned Anglican minister and then writer, lived the gamut of experience: powerful friends sustained him and the British commanders-in-chief Sir William Howe, Henry Clinton, and Sir Guy Carleton employed him; nevertheless, during the war he was a lonely exile ("Tory hunters" forced him from his home in 1775), and, at the end of the war, when his hope for reconciliation between the Loyalists and the Americans came to nothing, he reluctantly emigrated to Canada. Here is a voice, all but silenced for over two hundred years, that must now be heard if we are to better understand the American Revolution.
A gripping portrait of life in the hard-bitten wilderness of Revolutionary Kentucky, Harriette Simpson Arnow’s The Kentucky Trace follows surveyor William David Leslie Collins as he struggles to survive. Collins finds his fellow settlers to be almost as inscrutable as the weather—at times, they are allies, and at others, they are adversaries. Collins battles nature, bad luck, and the quickly shifting political tides to make his way in a changing world. Showcasing Arnow’s ear for dialogue and offering a wealth of historical detail, The Kentucky Trace is a masterful work of fiction by a preeminent Appalachian writer.
The Untold Story of the Industrial Revolution and the American Victory in the War for Independence
Benjamin Franklin was serious when he suggested the colonists arm themselves with the longbow. The American colonies were not logistically prepared for the revolution and this became painfully obvious in war’s first years. Trade networks were destroyed, inflation undermined the economy, and American artisans could not produce or repair enough weapons to keep the Continental Army in the field. The Continental Congress responded to this crisis by mobilizing the nation’s manufacturing sector for war. With information obtained from Europe through both commercial exchange and French military networks, Congress became familiar with the latest manufacturing techniques and processes of the nascent European industrial revolution. They therefore initiated an innovative program of munitions manufacturing under the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores. The department gathered craftsmen and workers into three national arsenals where they were trained for the large-scale production of weapons. The department also engaged private manufacturers, providing them with materials and worker training, and instituting a program of inspecting their finished products.
As historian Robert F. Smith relates in Manufacturing Independence: Industrial Innovation in the American Revolution, the colonies were able to provide their military with the arms it needed to fight, survive, and outlast the enemy—supplying weapons for the victory at Saratoga, rearming their armies in the South on three different occasions, and providing munitions to sustain the siege at Yorktown. But this manufacturing system not only successfully supported the Continental Army, it also demonstrated new production ideas to the nation. Through this system, the government went on to promote domestic manufacturing after the war, becoming a model for how the nation could produce goods for its own needs. The War for Independence was not just a political revolution, it was an integral part of the Industrial Revolution in America.
Barbara J. Mitnick has edited a remarkably comprehensive anthology, bringing new life to the rich and turbulent late eighteenth-century period in New Jersey. Originally conceived as a legacy of the state's 225th Anniversary of the Revolution Celebration Commission and sponsored by the Washington Association of New Jersey, the volume brings together contributions by twelve outstanding and recognized experts on New Jersey history.
Chapters explore topics including New Jersey as the "Crossroads of the Revolution," important military campaigns, the 1776 Constitution, and the significant contribution of blacks, Native Americans, and women. Reflecting the contemporary view that the war's impact extended beyond military engagements, original essays also discuss the fine and decorative arts, literature, architecture, archaeology, and social and economic conditions. The reader is presented with a picture of life in New Jersey both separate from as well as connected to the fight for American independence and the establishment of the nation.
Fresh and significant observations, including the fact that soldiers fought 238 battles on New Jersey soil (more than any other state) and that the social and political changes resulting from the war were more revolutionary than evolutionary make this accessibly written, beautifully illustrated volume appeal to the lay reader as well as scholars of New Jersey and Revolutionary War history.
Winner of the 2020 American Revolution Roundtable of Philadelphia Book of the Year
Redcoats. For Americans, the word brings to mind the occupying army that attempted to crush the Revolutionary War. There was more to these soldiers than their red uniforms, but the individuals who formed the ranks are seldom described in any detail in historical literature, leaving unanswered questions. Who were these men? Why did they join the army? Where did they go when the war was over?
In Noble Volunteers: The British Soldiers Who Fought the American Revolution, Don N. Hagist brings life to these soldiers, describing the training, experiences, and outcomes of British soldiers who fought during the Revolution. Drawing on thousands of military records and other primary sources in British, American, and Canadian archives, and the writings of dozens of officers and soldiers, Noble Volunteers shows how a peacetime army responded to the onset of war, how professional soldiers adapted quickly and effectively to become tactically dominant, and what became of the thousands of career soldiers once the war was over.
In this historical tour de force, introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson, Hagist dispels long-held myths, revealing how remarkably diverse British soldiers were. They represented a variety of ages, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and many had joined the army as a peacetime career, only to find themselves fighting a war on another continent in often brutal conditions. Against the sweeping backdrop of the war, Hagist directs his focus on the small picture, illuminating the moments in an individual soldier’s life—those hours spent nursing a fever while standing sentry in the bitter cold, or writing a letter to a wife back home. What emerges from these vignettes is the understanding that while these were “common” soldiers, each soldier was completely unique, for, as Hagist writes, “There was no ‘typical’ British soldier.”
This is the first volume of a four-volume set that will reprint in their entirety the texts of 72 pamphlets relating to the Anglo-American controversy that were published in America in the years 1750–1776. They have been selected from the corpus of the pamphlet literature on the basis of their importance in the growth of American political and social ideas, their role in the debate with England over constitutional rights, and their literary merit. All of the best known pamphlets of the period, such as James Otis’s Rights of the British Colonies (1764), John Dickinson’s Farmer’s Letters (1768), and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) are to be included. In addition there are lesser known ones particularly important in the development of American constitutional thought: Stephen Johnson’s Some Important Observations (1766), John Joachim Zubly’s An Humble Enquiry (1769), Ebenezer Baldwin’s An Appendix Stating the Heavy Grievances (1774), and Four Letters on Interesting Subjects (1776). There are also pamphlets illustrative of the sheer vituperation of the Revolutionary polemics, and others selected for their more elevated literary merit. Both sides of the Anglo-American dispute and all genres of expression—poetry, dramatic dialogues, sermons, treatises, documentary collections, political “position papers”—that appeared in this form are included.
Each pamphlet is introduced by an essay written by the editor containing a biographical sketch of the author of the document, an analysis of the circumstances that led to the writing of it, and an interpretation of its contents. The texts are edited for the convenience of the modern reader according to a scheme that preserves scrupulously the integrity of every word written but that frees the text from the encumbrances of eighteenth-century printing practices. All references to writings, people, and events that are not obvious to the informed modern reader are identified in the editorial apparatus and where necessary explained in detailed notes.
This first volume of the set contains the texts of 14 pamphlets through the year 1765. It presents, in addition, a book-length General Introduction by Bernard Bailyn on the ideology of the American Revolution. In the seven chapters of this essay the ideological origins and development of the Revolutionary movement are analyzed in the light of the study of the pamphlet literature that went into the preparation of these volumes. Bailyn explains that close analysis of this literature allows one to penetrate deeply into the colonists’ understanding of the events of their time; to grasp more clearly than is otherwise possible the sources of their ideas and their motives in rebelling; and, above all, to see the subtle, fundamental transformation of eighteenth-century constitutional thought that took place during these years of controversy and that became basic doctrine in America thereafter.
Bailyn stresses particularly the importance in the development of American thought of the writings of a group of early eighteenth-century English radicals and opposition politicians who transmitted to the colonists most directly the seventeenth-century tradition of anti-authoritarianism born in the upheaval of the English Civil War. In the context of this seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century tradition one sees the political importance in the Revolutionary movement of concepts the twentieth century has generally dismissed as mere propaganda and rhetoric: “slavery,” “conspiracy,” “corruption.” It was the meaning these concepts imparted to the events of the time, Bailyn suggests, as well as the famous Lockean notions of natural rights and social and governmental compacts, that accounts for the origins and the basic characteristics of the American Revolution.
Proofs of Genius: Collected Editions from the American Revolution to the Digital Age is the first extensive study of the collected edition as an editorial genre within American literary history. Unlike editions of an author’s “selected works” or thematic anthologies, which clearly indicate the presence of non-authorial editorial intervention, collected editions have typically been arranged to imply an unmediated documentary completeness. By design, the collected edition obscures its own role in shaping the cultural reception of the author.
In Proofs of Genius, Amanda Gailey argues that decisions to re-edit major authorial corpora are acts of canon-formation in miniature that indicate more foundational shifts in the way a culture views its literature and itself. By combining a theoretically-informed approach with a broad historical view of collected editions from the late eighteenth century to the present (including the rise of digital editions), Gailey fills a gap in the textual scholarship of the editing history of major figures like Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and of the American literary canon itself.
The fledgling United States fought a war to achieve independence from Britain, but as John Adams said, the real revolution occurred “in the minds and hearts of the people” before the armed conflict ever began. Putting the practices of communication at the center of this intellectual revolution, Protocols of Liberty shows how American patriots—the Whigs—used new forms of communication to challenge British authority before any shots were fired at Lexington and Concord.
To understand the triumph of the Whigs over the Brit-friendly Tories, William B. Warner argues that it is essential to understand the communication systems that shaped pre-Revolution events in the background. He explains the shift in power by tracing the invention of a new political agency, the Committee of Correspondence; the development of a new genre for political expression, the popular declaration; and the emergence of networks for collective political action, with the Continental Congress at its center. From the establishment of town meetings to the creation of a new postal system and, finally, the Declaration of Independence, Protocols of Liberty reveals that communication innovations contributed decisively to nation-building and continued to be key tools in later American political movements, like abolition and women’s suffrage, to oppose local custom and state law.
How General Washington Avoided the Peril From Within His Own Forces "It gives me great pain to be obliged to solicit the attention of the honorable Congress to the state of the army...the greater part of the army is in a state not far from mutiny...I know not to whom to impute this failure, but I am of the opinion, if the evil is not immediately remedied and more punctuality observed in future, the army must absolutely break up."—George Washington, September 1775
Mutiny has always been a threat to the integrity of armies, particularly under trying circumstances, and since Concord and Lexington, mutiny had been the Continental Army's constant traveling companion. It was not because the soldiers lacked resolve to overturn British rule or had a lack of faith in their commanders. It was the scarcity of food—during winter months it was not uncommon for soldiers to subsist on a soup of melted snow, a few peas, and a scrap of fat—money, clothing, and proper shelter, that forced soldiers to desert or organize resistance. Mutiny was not a new concept for George Washington. During his service in the French and Indian War he had tried men under his command for the offense and he knew that disaffection and lack of morale in an army was a greater danger than an armed enemy.
In Rebellion in the Ranks: Mutinies of the American Revolution, John A. Nagy provides one of the most original and valuable contributions to American Revolutionary War history in recent times. Mining previously ignored British and American primary source documents and reexamining other period writings, Nagy has corrected misconceptions about known events, such as the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny, while identifying for the first time previously unknown mutinies. Covering both the army and the navy, Nagy relates American officers' constant struggle to keep up the morale of their troops, while highlighting British efforts to exploit this potentially fatal flaw.
Richard Price was a loyal, although dissenting, subject of Great Britain who thought the British treatment of their colonies as wrong, not only prudentially, financially, economically, militarily, and politically, but, above all, morally wrong. He expressed these views in his first pamphlet early in 1776. It concluded with a plea for the cessation of hostilities by Great Britain and reconciliation. Its analyses, arguments, and conclusions, however, along with its admiration for the colonists, their moral position and qualities, could hardly fail to contribute to their reluctant recognition that there was no real alternative to independence. Price found some of his views not only misunderstood but vilified by negative critics in the ensuing controversy. So he wrote a second pamphlet which was published in early 1777. He expanded his analysis of liberty, extended its application to the war with America, and greatly expanded his discussion of the economic impact upon Great Britain. After the war, in 1784, he published a third pamphlet on the importance of the American Revolution and the means of making it a benefit to the world, appending an extensive letter from the Frenchman, Turgot. Implicitly the letter regards Price as a perceptive theorist of the revolution; explicitly it identifies the problems facing the prospective new nation and expresses a wish that it will fulfill its role s the hope of the world. Selections in the appendices present a part of the pamphlet controversy and the selection of correspondence shows how seriously Price was regarded by Revolutionary leaders.
Female loyalists occupied a nearly impossible position during the American Revolution. Unlike their male counterparts, loyalist women were effectively silenced—unable to officially align themselves with either side or avoid being persecuted for their family ties. In this book, Kacy Dowd Tillman argues that women's letters and journals are the key to recovering these voices, as these private writings were used as vehicles for public engagement. Through a literary analysis of extensive correspondence by statesmen's wives, Quakers, merchants, and spies, Stripped and Script offers a new definition of loyalism that accounts for disaffection, pacifism, neutralism, and loyalism-by-association. Taking up the rhetoric of violation and rape, this archive repeatedly references the real threats rebels posed to female bodies, property, friendships, and families. Through writing, these women defended themselves against violation, in part, by writing about their personal experiences while knowing that the documents themselves may be confiscated, used against them, and circulated.
In The Unvarnished Doctrine, Steven M. Dworetz addresses two critical issues in contemporary thinking on the American Revolution—the ideological character of this event, and, more specifically, the relevance of "America’s Philosopher, the Great Mr. Locke," in this experience. Recent interpretations of the American revolution, particularly those of Bailyn and Pocock, have incorporated an understanding of Locke as the moral apologist of unlimited accumulation and the original ideological crusader for the "spirit of capitalism," a view based largely on the work of theorists Leo Strauss and C. B. Macpherson. Drawing on an examination of sermons and tracts of the New England clergy, Dworetz argues that the colonists themselves did not hold this conception of Locke. Moreover, these ministers found an affinity with the principles of Locke’s theistic liberalism and derived a moral justification for revolution from those principles. The connection between Locke and colonial clergy, Dworetz maintains, constitutes a significant, radicalizing force in American revolutionary thought.
The Urban Crucible boldly reinterprets colonial life and the origins of the American Revolution. Through a century-long history of three seaport towns—Boston, New York, and Philadelphia—Gary Nash discovers subtle changes in social and political awareness and describes the coming of the revolution through popular collective action and challenges to rule by custom, law and divine will. A reordering of political power required a new consciousness to challenge the model of social relations inherited from the past and defended by higher classes. While retaining all the main points of analysis and interpretation, the author has reduced the full complement of statistics, sources, and technical data contained in the original edition to serve the needs of general readers and undergraduates.
Geoffrey Galt Harpham’s book takes its title from a telling anecdote. A few years ago Harpham met a Cuban immigrant on a college campus, who told of arriving, penniless and undocumented, in the 1960s and eventually earning a GED and making his way to a community college. In a literature course one day, the professor asked him, “Mr. Ramirez, what do you think?” The question, said Ramirez, changed his life because “it was the first time anyone had asked me that.” Realizing that his opinion had value set him on a course that led to his becoming a distinguished professor.
That, says Harpham, was the midcentury promise of American education, the deep current of commitment and aspiration that undergirded the educational system that was built in the postwar years, and is under extended assault today. The United States was founded, he argues, on the idea that interpreting its foundational documents was the highest calling of opinion, and for a brief moment at midcentury, the country turned to English teachers as the people best positioned to train students to thrive as interpreters—which is to say as citizens of a democracy. Tracing the roots of that belief in the humanities through American history, Harpham builds a strong case that, even in very different contemporary circumstances, the emphasis on social and cultural knowledge that animated the midcentury university is a resource that we can, and should, draw on today.