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Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves & the Making of the American Revolution in Virginiaby Woody Holton
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Its lively style and wealth of anecdotes will make it an enjoyable read for anyone.
Journal of American Studies May be the most important book on the political culture of Revolutionary Virginia since Rhys Isaac's The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790.
Journal of Southern History The main strength of Holton's book is his effort to place the actions of the Virginia gentry within a more detailed local context.
Law and History Review [He] portrays the coming of the Revolution in Virginia as deeply bound up with competing social groups.
American Historical Review This book gives us a brisk and convincing analysis of a region—and revolutionary leaders—we thought we already knew.
Journal of American History
Challenging traditional interpretations of the American Revolution, Woody Holton argues that the Virginia gentry were forced to rebel against Britain because of pressures exerted by Indians, farmers, and slaves.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Part I. Grievances, 1763-1774
1. Land Speculators versus Indians and the Privy Council
2. Tobacco Growers versus Merchants and Parliament
Part II. Boycotts, 1769-1774
Part III. Unintended Consequences, 1775-1776
5. Free Virginians versus Slaves and Governor Dunmore
6. Gentlemen versus Farmers
Part IV. Independence, 1776
7. Spirit of the People
Figure 1. Conflicting Indian Boundaries of 1768
Figure 2. Sir William Johnson's Testamonial
Figure 3. Drawing of a Pipe; A Belt and Strings of Wampum
Figure 4. Virginia and Its Neighbors, 1776
Figure 5. John Robinson
Figure 6. Crime Scene Detail
Figure 7. Arthur Lee
Figure 8. The Alternative of Williams-Burg
Figure 9. Article 4, Continental Association
Figure 10. Attack on Hampton
Figure 11. Rumors of Slave Plots in the James River Watershed
Figure 12. Williamsburg Gunpowder Magazine
Figure 13. John Murray, Fourth Earl of Dunmore
Figure 14. "A List of Negroes That Went Off to Dunmore"
Figure 15. Landon Carter
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