Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia

Front Cover
Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1999 - History - 231 pages
3 Reviews
In this provocative reinterpretation of one of the best-known events in American history, Woody Holton shows that when Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other elite Virginians joined their peers from other colonies in declaring independence from Britain, they acted partly in response to grassroots rebellions against their own rule.



The Virginia gentry's efforts to shape London's imperial policy were thwarted by British merchants and by a coalition of Indian nations. In 1774, elite Virginians suspended trade with Britain in order to pressure Parliament and, at the same time, to save restive Virginia debtors from a terrible recession. The boycott and the growing imperial conflict led to rebellions by enslaved Virginians, Indians, and tobacco farmers. By the spring of 1776 the gentry believed the only way to regain control of the common people was to take Virginia out of the British Empire.



Forced Founders uses the new social history to shed light on a classic political question: why did the owners of vast plantations, viewed by many of their contemporaries as aristocrats, start a revolution? As Holton's fast-paced narrative unfolds, the old story of patriot versus loyalist becomes decidedly more complex.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rsubber - LibraryThing

Holton offers a backstory to the drive by Virginia's elite political leaders to support rebellion against England and the Declaration of Independence. He argues that Indians, slaves, merchants and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - noblechicken - LibraryThing

Dry, but very informative perspective of the politics of the Revolutionary War era from the common peoples point of view in Virginia. Holton has managed to create an important and previously ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

References to this book

Common Sense
Thomas Paine
Limited preview - 2004
All Book Search results »

About the author (1999)

Woody Holton is assistant professor of American history at the University of Richmond.

Bibliographic information