Becoming America: The Revolution Before 1776

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Harvard University Press, 2001 - History - 324 pages
4 Reviews
Multinational, profit-driven, materialistic, politically self-conscious, power-hungry, religiously plural: America three hundred years ago--and today. Here are Britain's mainland American colonies after 1680, in the process of becoming the first modern society--a society the earliest colonists never imagined, a "new order of the ages" that anticipated the American Revolution. Jon Butler's panoramic view of the colonies in this epoch transforms our customary picture of prerevolutionary America; it reveals a strikingly "modern" character that belies the eighteenth-century quaintness fixed in history. Stressing the middle and late decades (the hitherto "dark ages") of the American colonial experience, and emphasizing the importance of the middle and southern colonies as well as New England, Becoming America shows us vast revolutionary changes before 1776 among a fantastically diverse assortment of peoples. Here are polyglot populations of English, Indians, Africans, Scots, Germans, Swiss, and French; a society of small colonial cities with enormous urban complexities; an economy of prosperous farmers thrust into international market economies; peoples of immense wealth, a burgeoning middle class, and incredible poverty. Butler depicts settlers pursuing sophisticated provincial politics that ultimately sparked revolution and a new nation; developing new patterns in production, consumption, crafts, and trades that remade commerce at home and abroad; and fashioning a society remarkably pluralistic in religion, whose tolerance nonetheless did not extend to Africans or Indians. Here was a society that turned protest into revolution and remade itself many times during the next centuries--asociety that, for ninety years before 1776, was already becoming America.
  

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Butler argues that there was a remarkable social and economic transformation in the American colonies between 1680 and 1770: (1) they became ethnically and nationally diverse, (2) they developed ... Read full review

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Contents

Introduction
1
One PEOPLES
8
Two ECONOMY
50
Three POLITICS
89
Four THINGS MATERIAL
131
Five THINGS SPIRITUAL
185
Six 1776
225
Notes
251
Acknowledgments
312
Index
315
Copyright

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Common Sense
Thomas Paine
Limited preview - 2004
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About the author (2001)

Jon Butler is the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies and History, and Professor of Religious Studies, at Yale University.

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