9780801476587

A Mighty Empire

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780801476587

  • ISBN10:

    0801476585

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-08-19
  • Publisher: Cornell Univ Pr

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Summary

Marc Egnal here provides a major new interpretation of the causes of the American Revolution. Focusing on five colonies-Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina-from 1700 to the post-Revolutionary era, he asserts that throughout colonial America the struggle against Great Britain was led by an upper-class faction motivated by a vision of the rapid development of the New World. In each colony the membership of this group, which Egnal calls the expansionist faction, was shaped by self-interest, religious convictions, and national origins. According to Egnal, these individuals had long shown a commitment to American growth and had fervently supported the colonial wars against France, Spain, and Native Americans. While advancing this interpretation, Egnal explores several salient aspects of colonial society. He scrutinizes the partisan battles within the provinces and argues that they were in fact clashes between the expansionists and a second long-lived faction that he calls the nonexpansionists. Through close analysis he shows how economic crisis-the depression of the 1760s-influenced the colonists' behavior. And although he focuses on the initiative and leadership of the elite, Egnal also investigates the part played by the common people in the rebellion. A Mighty Empire contains insightful sketches of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and other revolutionary leaders and makes clear the human dimensions of the clash with Great Britain. The final chapter provides a new context for understanding the writing of the Constitution and considers the links between the Revolution and modern America. An appendix lists members of the colonial factions and identifies their patterns of political commitment. Written in lucid, forceful prose, Mighty Empire is a valuable addition to the ongoing debate over the role of ideas and interests in shaping the Revolution. The book will engage individuals who wish to explore the origins of the United States.

Author Biography

Marc Egnal is Professor of History at York University. He is the author of books including New World Economies and Divergent Paths.

Table of Contents

Maps and Figuresp. ix
Preface 2010p. xi
Preface to the First Editionp. xxiii
Note on Definitionsp. xxv
Abbreviations Used in Notesp. xxvii
Introductionp. 1
The Factions Emerge, 1690-1762p. 17
Massachusetts to 1741: Three Parties Were Formedp. 20
Massachusetts, 1741-1762: Coalition Politicsp. 38
New York: Traders and Warriorsp. 51
Pennsylvania: Quaker Party Ascendancyp. 68
Virginia: Rise of the Northern Neckersp. 87
South Carolina: Factions Times Twop. 102
Revolutionary Politics, 1763-1770p. 123
The Depression of the 1760sp. 126
Massachusetts: Patriot Alliancep. 150
New York: Reluctant Revolutionariesp. 168
Pennsylvania: Challenging the Quaker Partyp. 191
Virginia: Conflict and Cooperationp. 215
South Carolina: Triumphant Patriotsp. 227
The Quiet Years, 1771-1773p. 247
The Quiet Yearsp. 248
The Expansionists Prevail, 1774-1776p. 271
Northern Colonies: Antagonists High and Lowp. 275
Southern Colonies: Maintaining Controlp. 302
Beyond Independencep. 328
Appendix. Members of the Factionsp. 339
Indexp. 371
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

Marc Egnal here provides a major new interpretation of the causes of the American Revolution. Focusing on five colonies—Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina—from 1700 to the post-Revolutionary era, he asserts that throughout colonial America the struggle against Great Britain was led by an upper-class faction motivated by a vision of the rapid development of the New World. In each colony the membership of this group, which Egnal calls the expansionist faction, was shaped by self-interest, religious convictions, and national origins. According to Egnal, these individuals had long shown a commitment to American growth and had fervently supported the colonial wars against France, Spain, and Native Americans. While advancing this interpretation, Egnal explores several salient aspects of colonial society. He scrutinizes the partisan battles within the provinces and argues that they were in fact clashes between the expansionists and a second long-lived faction that he calls the nonexpansionists. Through close analysis he shows how economic crisis—the depression of the 1760s—influenced the colonists' behavior. And although he focuses on the initiative and leadership of the elite, Egnal also investigates the part played by the common people in the rebellion. A Mighty Empire contains insightful sketches of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and other revolutionary leaders and makes clear the human dimensions of the clash with Great Britain. The final chapter provides a new context for understanding the writing of the Constitution and considers the links between the Revolution and modern America. An appendix lists members of the colonial factions and identifies their patterns of political commitment. Written in lucid, forceful prose, Mighty Empire is a valuable addition to the ongoing debate over the role of ideas and interests in shaping the Revolution. The book will engage individuals who wish to explore the origins of the United States.

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