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Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford History of the United States)

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Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford History of the United States) Cover

ISBN13: 9780195039146
ISBN10: 0195039149
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in the newest volume in the series, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812.

As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life--in politics, society, economy, and culture. The men who founded the new government had high hopes for the future, but few of their hopes and dreams worked out quite as they expected. They hated political parties but parties nonetheless emerged. Some wanted the United States to become a great fiscal-military state like those of Britain and France; others wanted the country to remain a rural agricultural state very different from the European states. Instead, by 1815 the United States became something neither group anticipated. Many leaders expected American culture to flourish and surpass that of Europe; instead it became popularized and vulgarized. The leaders also hope to see the end of slavery; instead, despite the release of many slaves and the end of slavery in the North, slavery was stronger in 1815 than it had been in 1789. Many wanted to avoid entanglements with Europe, but instead the country became involved in Europe's wars and ended up waging another war with the former mother country. Still, with a new generation emerging by 1815, most Americans were confident and optimistic about the future of their country.

Integrating all aspects of life, from politics and law to the economy and culture, Empire of Liberty offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation.

Synopsis:

In the newest volume in the acclaimed Oxford History of the United States series, one of America's most esteemed historians offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the War of 1812.

Synopsis:

Integrating all aspects of life, from politics and law to the economy and culture, "Empire of Liberty" offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation.

Synopsis:

In the early 1770s, the men who invented America were living quiet, provincial lives in the rustic backwaters of the New World, devoted primarily to family, craft, and the private pursuit of wealth and happiness. None set out to become “revolutionary” by ambition, but when events in Boston escalated, they found themselves thrust into a crisis that moved quickly from protest to war. InRevolutionaries, Jack Rakove shows how the private lives of these men were suddenly transformed into public careershow Washington became a strategist, Franklin a pioneering cultural diplomat, Madison a sophisticated constitutional thinker, and Hamilton a brilliant policymaker.

From the Boston Tea Party to the First Continental Congress, from Trenton to Valley Forge, from the ratification of the Constitution to the disputes that led to our two-party system, Rakove explores the competing views of politics, war, diplomacy, and society that shaped our nation. We see the founders before they were fully formed leaders, ordinary men who became extraordinary, altered by history.

Synopsis:

The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in the newest volume in the series, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812.

As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life--in politics, society, economy, and culture. The men who founded the new government had high hopes for the future, but few of their hopes and dreams worked out quite as they expected. They hated political parties but parties nonetheless emerged. Some wanted the United States to become a great fiscal-military state like those of Britain and France; others wanted the country to remain a rural agricultural state very different from the European states. Instead, by 1815 the United States became something neither group anticipated. Many leaders expected American culture to flourish and surpass that of Europe; instead it became popularized and vulgarized. The leaders also hope to see the end of slavery; instead, despite the release of many slaves and the end of slavery in the North, slavery was stronger in 1815 than it had been in 1789. Many wanted to avoid entanglements with Europe, but instead the country became involved in Europe's wars and ended up waging another war with the former mother country. Still, with a new generation emerging by 1815, most Americans were confident and optimistic about the future of their country.

Named a New York Times Notable Book, Empire of Liberty offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation.

About the Author

JACK RAKOVE, the William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies and a professor of political science at Stanford University, is one the most distinguished historians of the early American republic. He is the author of, among other books, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. He frequently writes op-ed articles for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major newspapers. He has been an expert witness in Indian land claims litigation and has testified in Congress on impeachment.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rip Van Winkle's America

1. Experiment in Republicanism

2. The Monarchical Republic

3. The Federalist Program

4. The Emergence of the Jeffersonian Republican Party

5. The French Revolution in America

6. John Adams and the Few and the Many

7. The Crisis of 1798-1799

8. The Jeffersonian Revolution of 1800

9. Republican Society

10. The Jeffersonian West

11. Law and an Independent Judiciary

12. Chief Justice John Marshall and the Origins of Judicial Review

13. Republican Reforms

14. Between Slavery and Freedom

15. The Rising Glory of America

16. Republican Religion

17. Republican Diplomacy

18. The War of 1812

19. A World within Themselves

Bibliographic Essay

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OneMansView, December 11, 2009 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Ambitious and comprehensive look at a complex period in American history

This book is an ambitious and fairly comprehensive attempt to describe and explain the transformation of the United States in the 1780s from a poorly structured, powerless collection of states to a nation that finally achieved an independent identity and standing in the world community by 1815. In that transformation, no areas of American life escaped profound changes, be it demographics, infrastructure, culture, economics, law, religion, etc. Most important, however, given that the American Revolution was in the first instance a political revolution, the author focuses on the attempt of conservative aristocrats to rollback the democratic excesses of farmers and artisans in the 1780s through the checks and balances of the Constitution of 1787 and on the resultant profound clash waged throughout the 1790s and beyond between the Federalists, led by Washington and Hamilton, and the Jeffersonian Republicans, including Madison, concerning the direction that the US would take politically, economically, and diplomatically.

The chaos engendered by the French Revolution, the two-decade war beginning in 1793 between France and England, the neo-British financial plan of Hamilton, and the pro-British diplomacy of the Federalists exacerbated fears among Republicans of a latent desire to reestablish a monarchial order, while Federalists found pro-French views to be indicative of pending anarchy. While not really like modern political parties, the Democratic-Republican societies of the mid-90s became an organized Republican opposition, playing a major role in Jefferson’s election in 1800. Federalist paranoia of pro-French and democratic sentiments reached both its height and nadir with the passage of the Sedition Act in 1798, resulting in the shutting down of several Republican newspapers and the jailing of their editors. It was a last gasp of those desirous of retaining the old order before being swept away by the democratic promise of the Revolution.

As also told in Wood’s “The Radicalism of the American Revolution,” the most profound change across this span of thirty years or so was in the reordering of society. The automatic deference to landed gentry, the learned, priests, and the like slowly eroded as people began to trust their own instincts and emphasize their self-interests. This was entirely consistent with the radical principle of placing total sovereignty of the nation in the hands of all the people. The framers undoubtedly little understood the forces that they had unleashed. Americans essentially rejected social orders. Public opinion became an amorphous amalgamation of all views and was credited with more wisdom than elite opinion. As the author points out, this general social leveling was cause for consternation among the more learned as classical and enlightenment views were scarcely known to “middling” folk; furthermore, artistic endeavors did not measure up to European standards. Americans were not philosophers and scientists; they were tinkerers. Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin was the founder with his practical advice who was the most popular founder in the 19th century. This is not to say that there was no idealism in the American psyche. Virtuous republicans were concerned with education, humanitarian societies, and prison reform.

Though the Republicans may have been anti-Hamilton, they were not anti-commerce. In fact, the Republicans were staunch advocates of free trade to give farmers markets for their surplus production. Subsistence farming was seen to be stultifying for the human spirit. The Jeffersonian promotion of westward expansion was the mechanism for the US to remain a largely agricultural society, while also remaining commercially active. The Hamiltonian vision of widespread manufacturing was evocative of the horrendous conditions found in European cities filled with factories. The author points to the disingenuous views of the Jeffersonians that the world community would welcome a system of free trade, completely ignoring political realities. In fact, it was the restriction of US trade involving the seizing of ships and sailors by both the British and the French in the mid-1800s that directly led to the Republican embargo in 1808. The self-inflicted hardship on the US, with no noticeable effect on Britain, resulted in the War of 1812.

The changes in the political and social makeup of the US in the decades of the 1790s and 1800s were of such significance that Jefferson contended that his election was part of a second American revolution. It is hard to argue against the casting off of the psychological and commercial dependence on Britain, the democratization of US political and social life that more or less continues today, the formation of a working national government from a mere constitutional blueprint, and all the other developments of the era as constituting profound, even revolutionary, changes. It would be difficult to compare the extent of these changes with other American periods. The one constant of American life has been change.

No other book comes to mind that attempts to bring together all of the elements of American society of this complex period, hence a label of being ambitious. For its length, the book is amazingly readable, organized into nineteen focused chapters. As far as any Jeffersonian bias on the part of the author, Jefferson was the principal figure and symbol of a way of thinking that ultimately did prevail in the US and largely continues today. That is simply reality. The author does not dismiss Hamiltonian financial ideas that also exist today. It is the elitism of the Federalists that was swept away by a newly formed “people.” He does acknowledge that Jefferson completely misunderstood the need for the US to develop a manufacturing capacity. Yet one can look at the urban degradation with the coming of US industrialization to know that Jefferson had that part right. At this point, this book stands as the preeminent book on this era in its willingness to take on most all aspects of the entire period.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780195039146
Author:
Wood, Gordon S.
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Author:
Rakove, Jack
Author:
null, Gordon S.
Subject:
United States Civilization 1783-1865.
Subject:
United States Politics and government.
Subject:
United States - Revolutionary War
Subject:
History & Theory - General
Subject:
United States - 18th Century
Subject:
United States - Antebellum Era
Subject:
United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Subject:
History, American | Early National
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Subject:
US History-19th Century
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Oxford History of the United States
Publication Date:
20091031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
800
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sale Books
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to 1945
History and Social Science » US History » 18th Century
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » General
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era

Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford History of the United States) New Hardcover
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$39.95 In Stock
Product details 800 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195039146 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In the newest volume in the acclaimed Oxford History of the United States series, one of America's most esteemed historians offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the War of 1812.
"Synopsis" by , Integrating all aspects of life, from politics and law to the economy and culture, "Empire of Liberty" offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation.
"Synopsis" by , In the early 1770s, the men who invented America were living quiet, provincial lives in the rustic backwaters of the New World, devoted primarily to family, craft, and the private pursuit of wealth and happiness. None set out to become “revolutionary” by ambition, but when events in Boston escalated, they found themselves thrust into a crisis that moved quickly from protest to war. InRevolutionaries, Jack Rakove shows how the private lives of these men were suddenly transformed into public careershow Washington became a strategist, Franklin a pioneering cultural diplomat, Madison a sophisticated constitutional thinker, and Hamilton a brilliant policymaker.

From the Boston Tea Party to the First Continental Congress, from Trenton to Valley Forge, from the ratification of the Constitution to the disputes that led to our two-party system, Rakove explores the competing views of politics, war, diplomacy, and society that shaped our nation. We see the founders before they were fully formed leaders, ordinary men who became extraordinary, altered by history.

"Synopsis" by , The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in the newest volume in the series, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812.

As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life--in politics, society, economy, and culture. The men who founded the new government had high hopes for the future, but few of their hopes and dreams worked out quite as they expected. They hated political parties but parties nonetheless emerged. Some wanted the United States to become a great fiscal-military state like those of Britain and France; others wanted the country to remain a rural agricultural state very different from the European states. Instead, by 1815 the United States became something neither group anticipated. Many leaders expected American culture to flourish and surpass that of Europe; instead it became popularized and vulgarized. The leaders also hope to see the end of slavery; instead, despite the release of many slaves and the end of slavery in the North, slavery was stronger in 1815 than it had been in 1789. Many wanted to avoid entanglements with Europe, but instead the country became involved in Europe's wars and ended up waging another war with the former mother country. Still, with a new generation emerging by 1815, most Americans were confident and optimistic about the future of their country.

Named a New York Times Notable Book, Empire of Liberty offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation.

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