ISBN : 9780195038712
For five decades John M. Murrin has been the consummate historian's historian. This volume brings together his seminal essays on the American Revolution, the United States Constitution, and the early American Republic. Collectively, these essays rethink fundamental questions regarding American identity, the reasons why colonists felt compelled to declare their independence, and the myriad ways that the American Revolution produced a profoundly transformative change in those who lived through it. They reconsider questions that have shaped the field for several generations and connect those questions to issues of central interest to historians working today. Collectively, the essays gathered here argue that the great historiographical schools that have long competed to explain the American Revolution must move towards a synthesis that allows the whole to be greater than the parts. The essays show how high politics and the study of constitutional and ideological questions—broadly the history of elites—must be considered in close conjunction with issues of economic inequality, class conflict, and racial division.
By bringing together different historiographical schools and a variety of perspectives in both Britain and the North American colonies, Rethinking America explains why what began as constitutional argument that virtually all expected would remain contained within the British Empire exploded into a truly subversive, destructive, and radical revolution that destroyed monarchy and aristocracy and replaced it with a rapidly transforming and wildly pulsing republic. The essays examining the period of the early American Republic discuss why the Founders' assumptions about what their Revolution would produce were profoundly different than the society that emerged from the American Revolution. In many ways, the outcome of the American Revolution put the new United States on a path to a violent and bloody civil war, as is shown by an essay directly comparing the American colonists of 1776 to the Confederate States of America in 1861.
A much anticipated work, this volume offers both groundbreaking and timeless analysis of the nation's critical first decades as it moved from empire to republic.
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Revolutionary Republic of a Radical, Imperial, Whig: The Historical and Historiographical Imagination of John M. Murrin- Andrew Shankman
Part I: An Overview
Chapter 1: The Great Inversion, or, Court versus Country: A Comparison of the Revolution Settlements in England (1688-1721) and America (1776-1816)
Part II: Toward Revolution
Chapter 2: No Awakening, No Revolution? More Counterfactual Speculations
Chapter 3: The French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the Counterfactual Hypothesis: Reflections on Lawrence Henry Gipson and John Shy
Chapter 4: Feudalism, Communalism, and the Yeoman Freeholder: The American Revolution Considered as a Social Accident (with Rowland Berthoff)
Chapter 5: 1776: The Countercyclical Revolution
Part III: Defining the Republic
Chapter 6: A Roof Without Walls: The Dilemma of American National Identity
Chapter 7: Fundamental Values, the Founding Fathers, and the Constitution
Chapter 8: The Making and Unmaking of an American Ruling Class (with Gary J. Kornblith)
Chapter 9: Escaping Perfidious Albion: Federalism, Fear of Aristocracy, and the Democratization of Corruption in Postrevolutionary America
Chapter 10: War, Revolution, and Nation-Making: The American Revolution versus the Civil War
Conclusion: Self-Immolation: Schools of Historiography and the Coming of the American Revolution