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Revolutionary America, 1750-1815: Sources and Interpretation

By Cynthia A. Kierner

Published by Pearson

Published Date: Aug 20, 2002


A core text or supplementary reader for advanced undergraduate courses on the era of the American Revolution.


Unique in both coverage and focus, this collection of primary documents and original interpretive essays provides an unusually well-balanced introduction to the era of the American Revolution. Chronologically, the text explores the period from 1750 to 1815—examining sources of both stability and discontent within the British Empire (and thereby discouraging students from assuming the inevitability of the Revolution), and ending with the War of 1812 (which many Americans saw as securing independence and the ideals of the Revolution). Topically, the text covers traditional political and military subjects as well as the newer social and cultural history of the era—providing students with a broad understanding of the Revolution as both a war for independence and an occasion for political, social, and cultural conflict and transformation. The wide variety of documents range from classic texts—such as Common Sense and the Federalist—to excerpts from diaries and travelers' accounts to newspapers advertisements and selections from contemporary histories and novels.

Table of Contents

1. The Bonds of Empire.

“The Revolution Ode” (1760). Montesquieu, “On the Constitution of England” (1748). Britain's Commercial Interest Explained and Improved (1757). “Just Imported … by William and Joseph Whipple” (1764). Letter to the People of Pennsylvania (1760). Jonathan Mayhew, Observations on the Charter and Conduct of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1763). John Adams on the British Constitution (1766). The Supremacy of Parliament (1766).

2. Languages of Liberty.

Gilbert Tennent, The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry (1740). Elisha Williams, The Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants (1744). John Woolman, Some Considerations on Keeping Negroes (1762). The Paxton Boys' Remonstrance (1764). Richard Bland, The Colonel Dismounted … Containing a Dissertation upon the Constitution of the Colony (1764). Stephen Hopkins, The Rights of the Colonies Examined (1765). James Otis, A Vindication of the British Colonies (1765). Grievances of the North Carolina Regulators (1769).

3. Reform and Resistance.

A French Traveler Visits Virginia's House of Burgesses (1765). Daniel Dulany, Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes in the British Colonies (1765). Destruction of the Home of Thomas Hutchinson (1765). Proceedings of the Stamp Act Congress (1765). The New York Stamp Act Riot (1765). John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania (1767-68). “Address to the Ladies” (1767). The “Liberty Song” and the Parody (1768). Virginia Nonimportation Resolutions (1769). An Exemplary Funeral (1769).

4. The Road to Rebellion.

The Soldiers and the “Mob” (1770). The Boston Massacre (1770). Bostonians Oppose the Tea Act (1773). A Peaceable Uprising (1773). A Gentleman Fears the Power of the People (1774). The Continental Association (1774). A Virginia County Committee Punishes an “Enemy to America” (1774). “The Testimony of the People Called Quakers” (1775). Janet Schaw on the Mistreatment of North Carolina Loyalists (1775).

5. Asserting Independence.

The Mecklenburg Resolves (1775). Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775). The Olive Branch Petition (1775). Proclamation of George III (1775). Lord Dunmore's Appeal to the Slaves of Virginia (1775). A White Virginian's Response to Dunmore's Proclamation (1775). A Call to Revolution: Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776). An Appeal to Caution: James Chalmers, Plain Truth (1776). The Declaration of Independence (1776).

6. Times that Tried Men's Souls.

Thomas Paine, “The Crisis #1” (1776). Anne Terrel Addresses the Wives of Continental Soldiers (1776). Baroness Riedesel at Saratoga (1777). The Burning of Fairfield, Connecticut (1779). A Winter Encampment (1779-80). The Murder of Hannah Caldwell (1780). The Sentiments of an American Woman (1780).

7. A World Turned Upside Down.

North Carolina Tories Await the British (1778). The British Capture Savannah (1778). Charleston Prepares for Invasion (1779). Eliza Wilkinson's Wartime Experience (1779). Partisan War in the Carolina Backcountry (1779-81). Life and Death on the British Prison Ships (1780-81). A Common Soldier's Account of the Battle of Yorktown (1781). Petition of the Whig Women of Wilmington, North Carolina (1782). The British Evacuate Charleston (1782).

8. Who Should Rule at Home.

“A Dialogue between Orator Puff and Peter Easy” (1776). Ethan Allen, A Vindication of the … Inhabitants of Vermont (1779). Petition of the Inhabitants of the Western Country (1787). Virginia Baptists Oppose Religious Privilege (1776). Philadelphia Jews Seek Civil Rights (1784). The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786). “Remember the Ladies” (1776). Judith Sargent Murray, “On the Equality of the Sexes” (1790). Massachusetts Antislavery Petition (1777). Virginia Proslavery Petition (1785). Petition of Grace Davis and Richard Davis (1791).

9. Confederation and Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation (1777). Phillis [Wheatley] Peters, Liberty and Peace: A Poem (1784). Alexander Hamilton, “The Continentalist No. VI” (1782). William Livingston, “Primitive Whig, No. II” (1786). Shays's Rebellion (1786). “Our Affairs Are Drawing Rapidly to a Crisis” (1786). The Constitution of the United States (1787).

10. Federalists and Antifederalists.

Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, #1 (1787). James Madison, The Federalist, #10 (1787). James Madison, The Federalist, #51 (1787). Brutus, #3 (1787). George Mason, Objections to the Constitution of Government Formed by the Convention (1787). Patrick Henry's Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention (1788). A Procession in Honor of the Constitution of the United States (1788). The Bill of Rights (1789).

11. The Federalist Era.

Alexander Hamilton, First Report on the … Public Credit (1790). Alexander Hamilton, “Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bank” (1791). “Public Opinion” (1791). “The Union: Who Are Its Real Friends?” (1792). Washington's Indian Policy (1791). Virginians Celebrate the French Republic (1794). Hugh Henry Brackenridge, “Thoughts on the Excise Law” (1792). “Incendiaries of the Public Peace” (1794). The Sedition Act (1798).

12. Forging a National Culture.

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1782). A Circular Letter … to the State Societies of the Cincinnati (1784). Benjamin Rush, Plan for the Establishment of Public Schools (1786). Benjamin Rush, Thoughts upon Female Education (1787). Preface to The Columbian Magazine, or Monthly Miscellany (1787). Noah Webster, The American Spelling Book (1789). “Essay on the City of Washington” (1795). Susanna Rowson, Charlotte; A Tale of Truth (1791). Mason Locke Weems, The Life of George Washington (1809).

13. Securing the Revolution.

A Federalist Views the Election of 1800 (1801). Jefferson's First Inaugural Address (1801). “The Greatest Cheese in America for the Greatest Man in America” (1802). Peopling the West (1803). David Ramsay, An Oration on the Cession of Louisiana to the United States (1804). Madison's War Message (1812). Margaret Bayard Smith's Account of the Burning of Washington (1814). “Our Heroes Died Not in vain.” (1815).

14. Remembering the Revolution.

“Adams and Jefferson Are No More” (1826). “All Men and Women Are Created Equal” (1848). The Domestication of Deborah Sampson (1848). Crispus Attacks and the Quest for African American Citizenship (1851). “What, to the American Slave, Is Your 4th of July?” (1852). The Age of Romantic Nationalism (c.1860). The Fourth of July: A Confederate Holiday? (1861). George Fitzhugh, “The Revolutions of 1776 and 1861 Contrasted” (1863). Abraham Lincoln Interprets the Revolution (1863).


Revolutionary America, 1750-1815: Sources and Interpretation

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$112.00 $106.40 | ISBN-13: 978-0-13-089867-8

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