Synopses & Reviews
In twenty-two original essays, leading historians reveal the radical impulses at the founding of the American Republic. Here is a fresh new reading of the American Revolution that gives voice and recognition to a generation of radical thinkers and doers whose revolutionary ideals outstripped those of the Founding Fathers.
While the Founding Fathers advocated a break from Britain and espoused ideals of republican government, none proposed significant changes to the fabric of colonial society. As privileged and propertied white males, they did not seek a revolution in the modern sense; instead, they tried to maintain the underlying social structure and political system that enabled men of wealth to rule. They firmly opposed social equality and feared popular democracy as a form of “levelling.”
Yet during this “revolutionary” period some people did believe that “liberty” meant “liberty for all” and that “equality” should be applied to political, economic, and religious spheres. Here are the stories of individuals and groups who exemplified the radical ideals of the American Revolution more in keeping with our own values today. This volume helps us to understand the social conflicts unleashed by the struggle for independence, the Revolutions achievements, and the unfinished agenda it left for future generations to confront.
In twenty-two original essays, leading historians trace the course of the radical impulses at the founding of the American Republic.
Neither Washington, Jefferson, nor Madison were “revolutionary” in any modern sense of the word: while they cast off imperial dependence, they left unchallenged the underpinnings of most societal structures, as well as slavery, and accepted other class, gender, and racial inequalities. Some of their contemporaries, however, resisted the concentration of power in the hands of the few and believed that “liberty” meant liberty for all. It is these thinkers’ lives, ideas, and accomplishments that are explored here by, among others, Jill Lepore, Alan Taylor, Woody Holton, and Melvin Patrick Ely.
Here is a volume that provides us with a fresh reading of the American Revolution, giving voice and recognition to a generation of overlooked radical thinkers and doers, whose revolutionary ideals outstripped those of the Founding Fathers. It is an essential addition to our understanding of the social conflicts unleashed by the struggle for independence, the Revolution’s achievements, and the unfinished agenda it left for future generations to confront.
About the Author
Alfred F. Young
is professor emeritus of history at Northern Illinois University and was a senior research fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Gary B. Nash is professor of history emeritus and director of the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA. He lives in Pacific Palisades, California.
Ray Raphael is the author of A People’s History of the American Revolution, Founding Myths, and several other books on the nation’s founding. He lives in northern California.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Alfred F. Young, Ray Raphael, and Gary B. Nash: “To Begin the World Over Again”
Part I: Revolutions
Alfred F. Young: Ebenezer Mackintosh: Boston’s Captain General of the Liberty Tree
Ray Raphael: Blacksmith Timothy Bigelow and the Massachusetts Revolution of 1774
T. H. Breen: Samuel Thompson’s War: The Career of an American Insurgent
Gary B. Nash: Philadelphia’s Radical Caucus That Propelled Pennsylvania to Independence and Democracy
Jill Lepore: A World of Paine
David Waldstreicher: Phillis Wheatley: The Poet Who Challenged the American Revolutionaries
Part II: Wars
Philip Mead: “Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings”: The Betrayals of Private Joseph Plumb Martin, Continental Soldier
Michael A. McDonnell: “The Spirit of Levelling”: James Cleveland, Edward Wright, and the Militiamen’s Struggle for Equality in Revolutionary Virginia
Cassandra Pybus: Mary Perth, Harry Washington, and Moses Wilkinson: Black Methodists Who Escaped from Slavery and Founded a Nation
Jon Butler: James Ireland, John Leland, John “Swearing Jack” Waller, and the Baptist Campaign for Religious Freedom in Revolutionary Virginia
Colin G. Calloway: Declaring Independence and Rebuilding a Nation: Dragging Canoe and the Chickamauga Revolution
James Kirby Martin: Forgotten Heroes of the Revolution: Han Yerry and Tyona Doxtader of the Oneida Indian Nation
Part III: The Promise of the Revolution
Gregory Nobles: “Satan, Smith, Shattuck, and Shays”: The People’s Leaders in the Massachusetts Regulation of 1786
Terry Bouton: William Findley, David Bradford, and the Pennsylvania Regulation of 1794
Wythe Holt: The New Jerusalem: Herman Husband’s Egalitarian Alternative to the United States Constitution
Woody Holton: The Battle Against Patriarchy That Abigail Adams Won
Sheila Skemp: America’s Mary Wollstonecraft: Judith Sargent Murray’s Case for the Equal Rights of Women
Richard S. Newman: Prince Hall, Richard Allen, and Daniel Coker: Revolutionary Black Founders, Revolutionary Black Communities
Melvin Patrick Ely: Richard and Judith Randolph, St. George Tucker, George Wythe, Syphax Brown, and Hercules White: Racial Equality and the Snares of Prejudice
Seth Cotlar: “Every Man Should Have Property”: Robert Coram and the American Revolution’s Legacy of Economic Populism
Jeffrey L. Pasley: Thomas Greenleaf: Printers and the Struggle for Democratic Politics and Freedom of the Press
Alan Taylor: The Plough-Jogger: Jedediah Peck and the Democratic Revolution
List of Contributors