1789: The Threshold of the Modern Age

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Mar 3, 2009 - History - 456 pages
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The world in 1789 stood on the edge of a unique transformation. At the end of an unprecedented century of progress, the fates of three nations—France; the nascent United States; and their common enemy, Britain—lay interlocked. France, a nation bankrupted by its support for the American Revolution, wrestled to seize the prize of citizenship from the ruins of the old order. Disaster loomed for the United States, too, as it struggled, in the face of crippling debt and inter-state rivalries, to forge the constitutional amendments that would become known as the Bill of Rights. Britain, a country humiliated by its defeat in America, recoiled from tales of imperial greed and the plunder of India as a king's madness threw the British constitution into turmoil. Radical changes were in the air.

A year of revolution was crowned in two documents drafted at almost the same time: the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the American Bill of Rights. These texts gave the world a new political language and promised to foreshadow new revolutions, even in Britain. But as the French Revolution spiraled into chaos and slavery experienced a rebirth in America, it seemed that the budding code of individual rights would forever be matched by equally powerful systems of repression and control.

David Andress reveals how these events unfolded and how the men who led them, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, and George Washington, stood at the threshold of the modern world. Andress shows how the struggles of this explosive year—from the inauguration of George Washington to the birth of the cotton trade in the American South; from the British Empire's war in India to the street battles of the French Revolution—would dominate the Old and New Worlds for the next two centuries.

 

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User Review  - Schmerguls - LibraryThing

This book discusses with knowledge the coming of the French Revolution, the making of the U.S. Constituiion and Bill of Rights, the political turmoil in England occasioned by George III ''madness ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Benjamin Franklin the Enlightenment and Frances crisis of the 1780s
9
Governing America and Britain in the traumatic 1780s
34
The woes of France and America 17878
62
Britain empire and the kings madness 17848
92
Empire slavery and race in the 1780s
117
Abolitionism political economy and the peoples rights
147
The revolutions of cotton and steam
175
President Washington and the war in the West
243
From the EstatesGeneral to the Bastille France MayJuly 1789
270
Declaring rights in America and France
297
The French Revolution imperilled
324
The British and the French Revolution
351
1789 1798
379
Notes
399
Index
423

France and Britain in the spring of 1789
196
Empire reason race and profit in the Pacific
219

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About the author (2009)

David Andress is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Portsmouth. He is the author of The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France (FSG, 2006).

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