A Continental History, 1750-1804Book - 2016
Rising out of the continental rivalries of European empires and their native allies, Taylor's Revolution builds like a ground fire overspreading Britain's mainland colonies, fueled by local conditions, destructive, hard to quell. Conflict ignited on the frontier, where settlers clamored to push west into Indian lands against British restrictions, and in the seaboard cities, where commercial elites mobilized riots and boycotts to resist British tax policies. When war erupted, Patriot crowds harassed Loyalists and nonpartisans into compliance with their cause. Brutal guerrilla violence flared all along the frontier from New York to the Carolinas, fed by internal divisions as well as the clash with Britain. Taylor skillfully draws France, Spain, and native powers into a comprehensive narrative of the war that delivers the major battles, generals, and common soldiers with insight and power.
With discord smoldering in the fragile new nation through the 1780s, nationalist leaders such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton sought to restrain unruly state democracies and consolidate power in a Federal Constitution. Assuming the mantle of "We the People," the advocates of national power ratified the new frame of government. But their opponents prevailed in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, whose vision of a western "empire of liberty" aligned with the long-standing, expansive ambitions of frontier settlers. White settlement and black slavery spread west, setting the stage for a civil war that nearly destroyed the union created by the founders.
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"In Boston in 1761, 1,000 of the city's 15,000 people were enslaved and only 18 black residents were free. In the mainland colonies as a whole, the enslaved comprised a fifth of the population. . . .
"In 1765 in Charles Town, South Carolina, white protesters denounced the stamp tax while chanting "Liberty!" When watching slaves took up the chant, alarmed whites called out militiamen to patrol the street and enforce a curfew. In a particularly obtuse performance, Richard Henry Lee, a wealthy Patriot in Virginia, had his slaves parade around a county courthouse, carrying banners which denounced Parliament's taxes as "chains of slavery."
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