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With America's founding principles being debated today as never before, Russell Shorto looks back to the era in which those principles were forged. Drawing on new sources, he weaves the lives of six people into a seamless narrative that casts fresh light on the range of experience in colonial America on the cusp of revolution. While some of the protagonists--a Native American warrior, a British aristocrat, George Washington--play major roles on the field of battle, others--a woman, a slave, and a laborer--struggle no less valiantly to realize freedom for themselves. Through these lives we understand that the Revolution was, indeed, fought over the meaning of individual freedom, a philosophical idea that became a force for violent change. A powerful narrative and a brilliant defense of American values, Revolution Song makes the compelling case that the American Revolution is still being fought today and that its ideals are worth defending.
Freedom: a promised land, a battle ground, America's cultural bond and fault line. In this history, Eric Foner describes the concept of freedom, not as a fixed set of inherited ideas, but as something that has evolved through time, being altered - or even entirely reinvented - by the various groups of people who have claimed a right to it.
This is a sweeping new interpretation of the national experience, reconceiving key political events from the Revolution to the New Deal. Rana begins by emphasizing that the national founding was first and foremost an experiment in settler colonization. For American settlers, internal self-government involved a unique vision of freedom, which combined direct political participation with economic independence. However, this independence was based on ideas of extensive land ownership which helped to sustain both territorial conquest and the subordination of slaves and native peoples. At the close of the nineteenth century, emerging social movements struggled to liberate the potential of self-rule from these oppressive and exclusionary features. These efforts ultimately collapsed, in large part because white settlers failed to conceive of liberty as a truly universal aspiration. The consequence was the rise of new modes of political authority that presented national and economic security as society’s guiding commitments. Rana contends that the challenge for today’s reformers is to recover a robust notion of independence and participation from the settler experience while finally making it universal.
Drawing on a gold mine of primary documents--including letters, diary entries, personal narratives, political speeches, broadsides, trial transcripts, and contemporary newspaper articles--The Boisterous Sea of Liberty brings the past to life in a way few histories ever do. Here is a panoramic look at early American history as captured in the words of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and many other historical figures, both famous and obscure. In these pieces, the living voices of the past speak to us from opposing viewpoints--from the vantage point of loyalists as well as patriots, slaves as well as masters. The documents collected here provide a fuller understanding of such historical issues as Columbus's dealings with Native Americans, the Stamp Act Crisis, the Declaration of Independence, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Missouri Crisis, the Mexican War, and Harpers Ferry, to name but a few. Compiled by Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Brion Davis and Steven Mintz, and accompanied by extensive illustrations of original documents, The Boisterous Sea of Liberty brings the reader back in time, to meet the men and women who lived through the momentous events that shaped our nation.
Explores the history of the Catholic Church in the political and intellectual development of the United States, discussing its impact on policies regarding slavery, public education, contraception, and the economy.
In this narrative history and contextual analysis of the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery and freedom take center stage. Alexander Tsesis demonstrates how entrenched slavery was in pre-Civil War America, how central it was to the political events that resulted in the Civil War, and how it was the driving force that led to the adoption of an amendment that ultimately provided a substantive assurance of freedom for all American citizens. The story of how Supreme Court justices have interpreted the Thirteenth Amendment, first through racist lenses after Reconstruction and later influenced by the modern civil rights movement, provides insight into the tremendous impact the Thirteenth Amendment has had on the Constitution and American culture. Importantly, Tsesis also explains why the Thirteenth Amendment is essential to contemporary America, offering fresh analysis on the role the Amendment has played regarding civil rights legislation and personal liberty case decisions, and an original explanation of the substantive guarantees of freedom for today's society that the Reconstruction Congress envisioned over a century ago.
This collection of essays looks at the impact of anticommunism on black political culture during the early years of the Cold War, with an eye toward local and individual stories that offer insight into larger national and international issues.
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time. The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States. Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre–Civil War mass meetings of African-American “colored citizens” and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.