Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution

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November 2006



With the publication of Liberty Tree, acclaimed historian Alfred F. Young presents a selection of his seminal writing as well as two provocative, never-before-published essays. Together, they take the reader on a journey through the American Revolution, exploring the role played by ordinary women and men (called, at the time, "people out of doors") in shaping events during and after the Revolution, their impact on the Founding generation of the new American nation, and finally how this populist side of the Revolution has fared in public memory. Drawing on a wide range of sources, which include not only written documents but also material items like powder horns, and public rituals like parades and tarring and featherings, Young places ordinary Americans at the center of the Revolution. For example, in one essay he views the Constitution of 1787 as the result of an intentional accommodation by elites with non-elites, while another piece explores the process of ongoing negotiations would-be rulers conducted with the "middling sort; " women, enslaved African Americans, and Native Americans. Moreover, questions of history and modern memory are engaged by a compelling examination of icons of the Revolution, such as the pamphleteer Thomas Paine and Boston's Freedom Trail. For over 40 years, history lovers, students, and scholars alike have been able to hear the voices and see the actions of ordinary people during the Revolutionary Era, thanks to Young's path-breaking work, which seamlessly blends sophisticated analysis with compelling and accessible prose. From his award-winning work on "mechanics," or artisans, in the seaboard cities of the Northeast to the all but forgotten liberty tree, amajor popular icon of the Revolution explored here in depth for the first time, Young continues to astound readers as he forges new directions in the history of the American Revolution.


A historian of the American Revolution for more than forty years, Alfred F. Young was recognized in 2004 by the Organization of American Historians for Distinguished Service to the Historical Profession. His numerous books include Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Samson, Continental Soldier and The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago.


"The key point that shines through all these essays is how dependent our hallowed Founding heroes were on the shifting political alliances they had to form with citizens of lower economic status in order to provide the leadership we honor them for today." --Washington Times "This fascinating collection of essays makes a gripping display of the American historian's efforts to construct a more inclusive, nuanced vision of the Revolutionary War era... A social historian committed to rounding out our cultural memory, Young includes traditionally marginalized groups (women, the poor, the working class, African Americans and Native Americans), but is interested neither in adding token representations nor in replacing the founding fathers. Rather, Young seeks to re-imagine the Revolutionary War era holistically, and what emerges is not only a first look at key but forgotten Revolutionary players, but also a fresh look at figures like Hamilton, Revere and Adams, portrayed here with a richness and humanity lacking in more celebratory treatments. Although these are serious academic essays, Young's prose is clear and concise, and he judiciously relegates the more technical, scholarly matters to end notes. The result is a work that will be of equal interest to professional scholars and amateur historians. " --Publishers Weekly "Young assists the construction of a fuller historical picture of the Revolutionary American era by focusing on the common peopleto gain a more complete understanding of the interplay between the political and social elite and these groups.Highly recommended." --Choice "...[A] wonderfully enlightening and engaging book...[A]n invaluable resource for history teachers at all levels." - The History Teacher "The authors stated objective is a more inclusive history that unites perspectives from the bottom up and the middle with those from the top down in order to illuminate the whole. He achieves that admirably while imparting a sense of extraordinariness to the contributions of his ordinary performers." --The North Carolina Historical Review "Young allows us a fascinating glimpse of what the long revolutionary period was like for all levels of colonial society. The book, a collection of essays written over a twenty-year period manages to make even the familiar new and interesting." --International Socialist Review"[A] provocative collection of essays. --Boston Globe"The key point that shines through all these essays is how dependent our hallowed Founding heroes were on the shifting political alliances they had to form with citizens of lower economic status in order to provide the leadership we honor them for today... It is small wonder that the debate over whether government should be responsive to, or rather wary of, the mass of ordinary citizens remains central to American politics to this day. This book is a valuable tool for understanding that debate." --Washington Times "To read these eloquent essays by one of the wisest historians of our time is to be drawn into a remarkable conversation: practical, eloquent, decent, and shrewd. Behind Alfred Young's mesmerizing prose lies dazzling detective work that finds courageous people in all the fullness of their lives, who made a revolution as surely as did more famous leaders. Within the lively stories he tells is also a sharp skepticism of the ways that, over the years, tales of the Revolution have been spun to serve selfish political needs. And throughout Al Young's interpretations there sings a humane vision for our future, as readers of history, as tourists, and as citizens." --Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship "Drawing on his unsurpassed knowledge of the American Revolution, and his powerful commitment to the idea of 'history from below,' Alfred Young gives us a stirring reminder of the role of 'the people' in the Revolution. He challenges the orthodox emphasis on the 'great men' of that time, and with vivid specificity provides an analysis which is subtle, complex, and bold." --Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus, Boston University and author, A People's History of the United States "In these finely honed essays, Alfred Young brings together more than a half-century of scholarship on the revolutionary era. America's E. P. Thompson, Young has done more than any other historian of his generation to give ordinary people their due as historical actors of consequence. Deep scholarship, lucid writing, and a high-spirited sympathy for the people 'out of doors' are the hallmarks of this massive contribution to our understanding of Revolutionary America. " --Gary B. Nash, author of The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America
EAN: 9780814796856
ISBN: 0814796850
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: November 2006
Seitenanzahl: 419 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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