The Creation of America: Through Revolution to Empire

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 31, 2000 - History - 340 pages
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In the standard presentation of the American Revolution, a ragtag assortment of revolutionaries, inspired by the ideals of liberty and justice, rise to throw off the yoke of the British empire and bring democracy to the New World. It makes a pretty story. Now, in place of this fairytale standing in for history, Francis Jennings presents a realistic alternative: a privileged elite, dreaming of empire, clone their own empire from the British. Jennings shows that colonies were extensions from Britain intended from the first to conquer American Indians. Though subordinate to the British crown, in the opposite direction they ruled over beaten native peoples. Adding to this dual nature, some colonists bought Africans as slaves and rigidly ruled over them within their colonies. To justify conquests and oppression, they invented the concept of racial gradation in a system of social castes. We live with it still. In this full scale reconception, the experience of tribal Indians and enslaved Blacks is brought into the whole picture. The colonists were enraged by efforts of crown and Parliament to forbid settlement in tribal territories. Especially Virginians rose under great speculator George Washington to seize the western lands in defiance of the crown's orders. We witness the founders' invasion and attempted conquest of Canada and the "conquest" of Pennsylvania as Quakers and German pietists were deprived of citizenship rights and despoiled of property through armed force and legal trickery. British sympathies were so strong that George III had to hire Hessians as soldiers because he could not trust his own people. And Britain also had movements for reform that won freedom of the press and refusal to legislate slavery while the Revolutionaries tarred and feathered their opponents and strengthened the slavery institution. Revolutionary rhetoric about liberty and virtue is revealed as war propaganda. Illegal "committees" and "conventions" functioned like soviets of the later Russian revolution. The U.S. Constitution was the fulfillment of the Revolution rather than its "Thermidor." The work is meticulously documented and detailed. By including the whole population in its history, Jennings provides an eloquent explanation for a host of anomalies, ambiguities, and iniquities that have followed in the Revolution's wake.
  

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Contents

Origins
8
Embryonic Empires
12
Dependencies Indians the West
16
Colonial Variety I Virginia
24
Colonial Variety II New England
29
Colonial Variety III New York
34
Colonial Variety IV Pennsylvania
37
Colonial Variety V South Carolina
43
Decision
166
Religion Then and Now
171
A Peoples Democracy
180
Liberty Virtue Empire
193
Conquest Slavery Race
201
Combat Multiple Outbreaks
207
Combat The Western TheaterI
216
Combat The Northern Theater I
219

Frictions Arise Within the Empire
47
Salutary Neglect
49
Royal Prerogative in America
53
War in Principle
63
Irritants
66
At the Core
70
George III
75
Reactions Becoming Revolution
87
A Variation on the Theme of Liberty in the Carolinas
95
Repression and Resistance
102
A Battle for Bishops
111
An American Clone Breaks Off
117
Imperial and Colonial Frontiers
119
Changing Sides
127
Defiance and Crackdown
140
Uniting for Liberty Tentatively
149
Shots Heard Round the World
155
Multiple Revolution
160
Combat The Northern Theater II
228
Saratoga
233
Combat The Western Theater II
241
West in the Middle
253
Combat The Southern Theater
260
Yorktown
266
The Clone Establishes Its Form
271
What Next?
273
Land
275
People
286
Power
297
More Conquests
305
Climax
307
In Sum
315
Bibliography
319
Index
329
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Francis Jennings is former director of the Newberry Library Center for the History of the American Indian.

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