I. The revolution was followed by the Revolutionary War, an assemblage of many events like the Battle of Saratoga (1777), France and United States formed the Franco-American Alliance (1778), entrance of Spain in the war against Britain (1779), and the Peace of Paris signed to end war (1783). One cause was the restrictions the British placed on the colonists. According to conventional accounts of the American founding, the Sons of Liberty and other high-minded Patriots rallied Americans toward the noble goal of independence from the oppressive British crown in the late eighteenth century. ." Perhaps no other topic in American history has been subject to so many differing interpretations as the American Revolution. The historiography of the French Revolution stretches back over two hundred years, as commentators and historians have sought to answer questions regarding the origins of the Revolution, and its meaning and effects. At the same time, the Civil Rights movement and the feminist movement helped provide a spark for a new generation of historians to study the history of race and slavery in early America, as well as women’s history. have seen their own Revolution and interpreted its causes differently in each generation. https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/revolution, "revolution Retrieved October 16, 2020 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/american-revolution. In the late 1960s and 1970s, “social history,” which focused on the lives of everyday persons, became predominant. Rather, historians such as George L. Beer, Charles Andrews, and Lawrence Gipson, studied British colonial policy and saw Britain’s attempts to manage trade and seek revenue from the colonies as reasonable policies, especially considering Britain’s war debt and colonists’ relatively light tax burden.[v]. According to historians, the British had the superior army. Remond, Charles Lenox 1810–1873 Having been participants in the events of which they wrote, both saw their histories as a moral story and warned their readers against eschewing virtue for the vices and corruption of the British. from contention as serious works of history, and deems them fit only as gifts for aging relatives, who, ignorant of current fashions in historical scholarship, remain content with narratives presenting the Revolution and its participants in more positive and traditional guises as the founding generation of the nation. Shelves and now digital stores of scholarly articles, collections of documents, historical monographs and bibliographies cover all aspects of the Revolution… John Whiteclay Chambers II "American Revolution [xi] Jesse L. Lemisch, “Jack Tar in the Streets: Merchant Seamen in the Politics of Revolutionary America,” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series 25, no. I thought this would be a great article for my Senior Seminar students who remain confused about historiography. The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. Instead, history is an ongoing discussion and debate about the past. Michael, the historiography timeline is outstanding. I think it should be in the collection of every historian of the American Revolution. (Indeed, Wood has been nearly expelled from the guild.) [vii] Merrill Jensen, The Articles of Confederation: An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American Revolution (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1940), 5. While he excoriates the Whig/Patriots as petty, disingenuous, selfish people whose pretentions to respectability were a ludicrous sham, he was nearly as censorious of the British, whose venality and heavy-handedness he blamed for alienating Whigs, Tories and neutrals alike—not to mention losing the contest. The works that resonated most––by authors such as David McCullough, Joseph Ellis, Richard Brookhiser, and Ron Chernow, among others––were often biographies or narratives that focused on the so-called “character” of both individual founders and the founding generation. Ramsay, in his The History of the American Revolution (1789), told the story of how virtuous “husbandmen, merchants, mechanics, and fishermen” won independence from the corrupt British. Thanks for sharing! The democratic ideals expressed in the slogan of the French Revolution (1789)—"liberty,…, Taylor, Susie King 1848–1912 Indeed, the divide between the academically connected (or wannabe connected) historians, and those who consume “popular” history (though many find both fruitful) seems to be widening. The determinists, writing in the early 20th century, argued that the Revolution was about class conflict. Overstating the effects of the American Revolution on world history would be difficult. The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Immediately following the Revolution, Americans needed to find symbols that united them. Without realizing it, they live a combination. Historians Interpret the Founding, Interpreting the Founding: Guide to the Enduring Debates over the Origins and Foundations of the American Republic, The History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, from 1749 to 1774 Comprising a Detailed Narrative of the Origin and Early Stages of the American Revolution, Peter Oliver’s Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion: A Tory View, A View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution, Historical and Political Reflections on the Rise and Progress of the American Rebellion, The American Revolution: A Review of Changing Interpretations, History of the United States, from the Discovery of the Continent, The Colonial Background of the American Revolution, The History of Political Parties in the Province of New York, 1760-1776, The Articles of Confederation: An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American Revolution, The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since the Revolution, We The People: The Economic Origins of the Constitution, Middle-Class Democracy and the Revolution in Massachusetts, 1691-1780, Interpreting Early America: Historiographical Essays, The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution, Jack Tar in the Streets: Merchant Seamen in the Politics of Revolutionary America, The Mechanics in New York Politics, 1774-1788, Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America, The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America, A People in Revolution: The American Revolution and Political Society in New York, 1760-1790, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic, The Historiography of the American Revolution, Searching for Loyalists: Boston Harborfest (part 2), The Colonists’ American Revolution: Preserving English Liberty, 1607–1783, This Week on Dispatches: Ken Daigler on Nathanael Greene and His Spy Network, Volunteer Overload: Foreign Support of the American Cause Prior to the French Alliance. But Santayana also wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” To me, History is the cautionary tale of human existence. Hicks, on the other hand, so distorted the life of slavery (something about being content sitting in the shade of a tree eating watermelon or dancing to native beats) that I saw how inimical the writing of history can be in establishing myths (as noted in recent posts here) and unfortunate stereotypes. (October 16, 2020). If they were, they were reporting current events. When historians write, they were, for the most part, not there. ”The Revolution has a different meaning if you start here,” Nathaniel Sheidley, director of public history at the Bostonian Society, told the Boston Globe in 2015. Quartering Act. Your email address will not be published. Bailyn argued that colonists’ ideology had its origins in the so-called “radical Whig” republican tradition in England, which instilled in them a strong fear of tyranny and conspiracies against their liberty. Historian One critic mockingly referred to these works as “Federalist Chic” because they tended to glorify Federalists like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton while portraying Republicans in a much more critical and darker light, particularly Thomas Jefferson. Give examples of at least two different interpretations of the American Revolution. For sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset, the main aspect of the American Revolution that made it revolutionary is the ideas, values, and the beliefs that appeared after the event. [iii] In the Whig interpretation, the underlying and unifying theme of American history was a Providential march toward liberty and democracy away from the tyranny and absolutism of the Old World. Jones, a judge of the New York Supreme Court before the war, wrote his bitter, acerbic take on the Revolutionary movement while an exile in England, though it was only published in the late nineteenth century. All the Loyalist historians tended to agree that the creation of popular anti-British sentiment in the 1760s and early 1770s was the product of demagoguery by a small number of ill-designing men. Different Perspectives: The American Revolution British poet and author Rudyard Kipling published “The American Rebellion” in 1911. They have chronicled its events, profiled its leaders, evaluated its ideas and weighed up its competing interests. Nevertheless, the researching of historical subjects is both a good mystery and an analysis of ourselves even though it’s important to ‘consider the source.’ Historiography gives us leave to report on the reporters and that helps us sort out the ‘pack of lies.’ Oddly enough, I’ve always found Francis Parkman and John D. Hicks fascinating. . It was all about economics: The determinists. Chief among the ideas of the American Enlightenment were the concepts of natural law, natural rights, consent of the governed, individualism, property rights, self-ownership, self-determination, liberalism, republicanism, and defense against corruption. [ix] In a sense, Morgan’s work (as well as that of Douglass Adair) signaled to early American historians that it was okay to take ideas seriously (hence the somewhat derisive label, “neo-Whig”). [iv] George Bancroft, History of the United States, from the Discovery of the Continent, 10 vols. [vi] Carl L. Becker, The History of Political Parties in the Province of New York, 1760-1776 (Madison, 1909), 22. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. Bailyn and others’ focus on “republicanism” (which together came to be known as the “republican synthesis”) was challenged by historians such as Joyce Appleby, who argued that the liberalism of John Locke was at least as, if not more, fundamental to the character of the Revolution. JAR is the product of many authors with diverse specialties and points of view; as such, the publication as a whole defies categorization. Louis Hartz found a broad scale consensus among colonists in the political philosophy of John Locke. We’re characterized most closely by the article’s assertion, “in the last twenty years there has been no dominant school or interpretation that has defined the study of the Revolution. . So thank you. Definition of American Revolution. ." Daniel W. Hamilton The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. It was an area of fertile land suitable for farming. The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Historiography is, essentially, the history of history, or, more aptly, the history of history writing. For the general reader wanting to explore the historiography of the American Revolution further, I suggest: Alfred F. Young and Gregory H. Nobles, Whose American Revolution Was It? Third, the American Revolution created American national identity, a sense of community based on shared history and culture, mutual experience and belief in a common destiny. He saw the Revolution as a constitutional crisis brought on by the irreconcilability of Britain’s imperial interests and the colonists’ experience in self-government. 3 (1968): 371–407; Staughton Lynd, “The Mechanics in New York Politics, 1774-1788,” Labor History 5, no. What follows is a summary of the different ways in which historians have interpreted the causes and character of the Revolution. [x] The republican synthesis stressed the importance of the notion of “virtue,” i.e., a successful republic required virtuous citizens willing to forego their own private interests in favor of the “public good.” Liberalism stressed individualism and that the public good arose when individuals sought their own private interests in a market economy. Since the end of the American Revolution in 1789, hundreds of writers, academics and biographers had sought to explain and interpret it. He believed that party politics in Britain contributed to the Ministry and Parliament’s discombobulated approach to the colonies. Wood concluded that Taylor’s work renders the Revolution “sordid, racist and divisive,” and unfit as an “inspiration to the nation.” Just so, the blogger maintains, arguing that “a vision of the American Revolution that attempts to fully incorporate all the experiences recovered by the expansion of political history [e.g. Professor Shy, who of all historians has the best grasp on the importance of guerrilla warfare in this period, brilliantly interprets the various phases of British strategy during the war (from police action to conventional war to counter‐ guerrilla attempts at “pacification” in the South) in his “The American Revolution: The Military Conflict Considered as A Revolutionary War,” in Kurtz and Hutson, Essays on … . [iii] It was during this period that Peter Force compiled and published American Archives, a collection of primary sources mostly covering 1774 to 1776 and Charles Evans compiled and published American Bibliography, a 14-volume catalogue of every known surviving piece of printed matter produced in the colonies and states through 1800. The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. One of the most definitive works of this new ideological interpretation was Bernard Bailyn’s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967). Historians Interpret the Founding (2011), Alan Gibson, Interpreting the Founding: Guide to the Enduring Debates over the Origins and Foundations of the American Republic (2006), and Gwenda Morgan, The Debate on the American Revolution (2007). The American Revolution Analysis. (That such books typically sell better and make more money is no doubt a further source of outrage and disappointment,) I landed upon this very helpful article after purchasing 1775 by Kevin Phillips and encountering in his introduction references to Neo-Whig, Consensus and Progressive historiography. The events themselves, of course, happened, though not necessarily the manner in which an historian chooses to write about them. Your email address will not be published. I’m reminded of Santayana’s quotation to the effect that history is a pack of lies written by people who weren’t there about events that never happened. At the heart of the revolution was the antagonism between the remnants of feudalism, planted artificially on the shores of the Americas, and incipient bourgeois society. John Hutchinson (London: J. Murray, 1828); Peter Oliver, Peter Oliver’s Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion: A Tory View, eds. Thus, the interpretations of the Revolution, popularized in thousands of July 4th speeches, were written into the history books. The first female historian of the Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren, in her History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution (1805), described the Revolution as a “boon of liberty.” Being the sister of James Otis, Jr. and the wife of Dr. James Warren, she had been personally involved in the coming of the Revolution and saw the actions of the British in the 1760s and 1770s as attempts to establish tyranny over the colonies. Rather, there are many sub-fields such as imperial history, Native American history, history of the West, and religion, which are producing exciting works that are broadening our understanding of the Revolution and early America, in general.”. . What, then, were the basic and overarching causes of the American Revolution? Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. The American Revolution was a war for independence by the American colonies against Great Britain. The Oxford Companion to American Military History. American Revolution Questions and Answers - Discover the eNotes.com community of teachers, mentors and students just like you that can answer any question you might have on American Revolution ended revolutionary war and recognized American Independence What was the American Revolution? Prominent Loyalists, too, wrote a number of contemporary histories of the Revolution, though some were only published posthumously including Thomas Hutchinson, the former royal governor of Massachusetts, Jonathan Boucher, Peter Oliver, and Joseph Galloway, a former member of the Continental Congress. ." Taylor] over the last half century cannot help but depict, as Wood puts it, the new republic as ‘sordid, racist and divisive’.” This interpretation of the creation of the United States, and much of its history into the twentieth century, is now dominant in academic American history. This “republicanism-liberalism” debate lasted for well over decade and, at times, became quite heated.[x]. John Whiteclay Chambers II "American Revolution Parkman wrote history in a literary form employing dramatic descriptions within his works. Again, very nice, thought provoking article. : the war of 1775–83 in which 13 British colonies in North America broke free from British rule and became the United States of America It was an ironic opportunity for Adams, who had spent much of his retirement criticizing the historical significance of the Declaration as anything more than an ornamental epilogue to the real story of the American Revolution. The Whig interpretation is best exemplified by a man whom Edmund Morgan called “the first great historian to deal with [the Revolution].”[ii] George Bancroft, like a number of historians and antiquarians of the pre-academic 19th century, used the leisure time his wealth afforded him to travel the country collecting and preserving primary source documents and to produce a massive multi-volume history of the United States. Historiography helps us appreciate that humans write history for all sorts of reasons and it’s up to the reader to discern why, in addition to the who, what, when, where. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. [viii], In 1953, Edmund S. Morgan argued that colonists’ arguments about constitutionality were not only genuine but that they were central to the Revolution. To these historians, the Revolution was morally right, a unique turning point in human history. As a consequence, historians often reach different conclusions and form different interpretations and arguments. [ii] Edmund S. Morgan, The American Revolution: A Review of Changing Interpretations (Washington D.C., 1958), 1. The American Revolution is one of those events in history that wasn’t caused by a single event, but the culmination of many smaller events that would help cause the breakout of war between the American colonist and the British. The American Revolution: a historiographical introduction he literary monument to the American Revolution is vast. Historiography is the lifeblood of academic historians; however, the general reader often has little familiarity with it. - Sofya Medvedev; Nova Scotia during the American Revolution - … Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches. I’d be interested in knowing where JAR thinks they fit into these categories. al. This is particularly true f… It was the last class in my senior year and felt it should be taught first. [xiv] Gordon Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different (New York: Penguin, 2007); Edmund S. Morgan, Benjamin Franklin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002); John Ferling, A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). 16 Oct. 2020 . Encyclopedia.com. The philoso-phers tell us that mind can be more resistant even than matter, and that it is easier to remove mountains than it … For an in-depth look at the historiography of the Revolution up until this point, see Jack P. Greene, “The Flight from Determinism: A Review of Recent Literature on the Coming of the American Revolution,” in Interpreting Early America: Historiographical Essays (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1996), 311–333. These were revolutionary in their context alone, and were integrated into the American way of life. Unlike the Whigs, the imperial historians did not see a tyrannical ministry and Parliament bent on restraining the liberty of the colonists through harsh policies. Are these interpretations the same as the approaches to the American Revolutions? “Founders Chic” is not a historiographical school; it is a pejorative term given to a number of popular histories of the founding that began appearing in the 1990s. the American Revolution. The older view, dominant in the first two or three decades of the twentieth century, laid greatest emphasis on the conflict of constitutional ideas, on the fact that the American colonists saw the actions of Great Britain after 1763 as interfering with their constitutional rights as Englishmen. [xi] Similarly, Mary Beth Norton and Linda Kerber both published books in 1980 about the impact of the Revolution on women. All the rhetoric about republicanism, inalienable rights, and equality was so much … They also denied the notion that ideas had any real causal power and that the rhetoric of the revolutionaries was largely a cover for their own interests. This frontier was acquired after the American Revolution based on victory over England. Member of a militia during the American Revolution who could be ready to fight in a minute. Given these different frontiers, how have American historians interpreted THE FRONTIER. Historians study the same periods, people and events – but they approach these topics with different views, assumptions, priorities and methods. 16 Oct. 2020 . After all, people don’t live the experience of the “Whig” interpretation, or the “Progressive” interpretation. Most subtle were the individua…, Quarles, Benjamin Arthur 1904–1996 Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. [i] Unsurprisingly, these loyalist histories tended to focus on justifying British actions during the imperial crisis. In your reading on the American Revolution, you may have come across terms like “Progressives” or “republican synthesis” or “neo-Whigs.” If you’ve read dozens of narratives and biographies but find yourself wanting to dig even deeper into the analytical history of the American Revolution, this article is designed to give you a crash course in the historiography of the American Revolution. Neo-Progressive historians such as Gary Nash, Ed Countryman, and Woody Holton have combined the issues of the Progressive interpretation with the social history’s concern for non-elites. For enslaved people in America, protest against the injustice of chattel slavery took many forms. Recently, a contributor to “The Junto”, a blog created by self-described “young Americanists,” further dismissed founder chic and military-centered histories, especially by non-institutionally affiliated authors, as “Uncle Books.” The term removes work by Ferling, Ellis, McCullough, Fleming, Phibrick et. Also in the first decades of the twentieth century, a new interpretation arose in direct reaction to the Whig interpretation. In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. ." After reading this article, what comes to mind though is why any of these interpretations are raised to a distinct level to the point where they get their own title, as if they are capable of maintaining a stable independent solo status. Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. Hutchinson was an exception. Revolutionary War (1775–83): Changing Interpretations It has been argued that the American Revolution is the central event of American history, and it has occasioned more scholarship than any other episode save the Civil War. Only after the American Revolution did people interpret it as a promise for individual equality. (October 16, 2020). What stayed the same? Around the same time, young historians––most notably Jesse Lemisch and Staughton Lynd––involved in New Left politics engaged in this “history from the bottom up” in an effort to recover the agency of laboring class colonists. Fixed. ." (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1889), IV, 3. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the light of recent developments in academic history, the section on “Founder Chic” deserves some further attention. Nevertheless, each of these interpretations made unique contributions to the ways in which we understand the Revolution today. Typical of these works were Charles H. McIlwain, The American Revolution… On January 1,1863, Susie King was among hundreds of people who listened to a recitation of President Lincoln’s Emancipat…, Remond, Charles Lenox Rather, there are many sub-fields such as imperial history, Native American history, history of the West, and religion, which are producing exciting works that are broadening our understanding of the Revolution and early America, in general. A few years later, Charles Beard published an extended essay––more ruminative than researched––in which he argued that individual economic and class interests shaped the decisions made by delegates to the Constitutional Convention and the subsequent ratification process.

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