Under a social contract, the monarch was nothing more than a legal entity, nor did his authority derive from a natural mandate. It reconciles Americans to it, while infusing more elements of monarchy than the Federalists dared try. But from now on it will be hard to argue that the rebellion was a genteel event that left fundamental institutions unscathed. Naturally they saw their ilk as the leaders of their new creation feeling only the liberal gentlemanly class would be benevolent and fair. Wood's book brings to the overall conversation and exploration of the American Revolution.
Thus American society was more egalitarian and far more open to republican ideas. Rather, supporting their peers was their duty and serving the public was a constant personal sacrifice — one that obliged them to fulfill seats of power with other civic-minded elite. Wood at the very least is able to cast doubt on many of the common beliefs we have about early American life, the reasons for the Revolution, and the founding fathers. The book is on target with noting population changes, the availability of land, and incredible economic growth as factors leading to the Revolution. In contrast to the mother country, the colonies had neither a traditional aristocracy nor a destitute urban population; colonists tended to cluster in the middle of the social order.
Woods could have used a good edit - he tended to wander off topic, and organization isn't his strongest skill. I have studied the revolution and read many books on it but none of them explain the Revolution as thoroughly and clearly as this book. The Radicalism of the American Revolution explores ideas related to the Revolution I had not previously explored. He is able to put the Revolution into the context of the time in which it occurred in a respect that brings the era to life with periodic anecdotes from individuals that lived from the time: whether common man, aristocrat or founding father. Wood argues that the revolution that began in 1776 radically changed life in the colonies and subsequently life in the United States.
A great read on the revolution from a completely different angle than I've ever read. A wonderful book that every high school student should read, as well as the rest of us. By the end of the eighteenth century the Federalists who represented the aristocracy had lost most of their power. Here he discusses the intense nationwide debate on the ratification of the Constitution, stressing the continuities between that struggle over the foundations of the national government and the original principles of the Revolution. But social relationships the way people were connected one to another were changed, and decisively so.
Reviews call this book a tour de force, and this is one time the term is well deserved. How did America slough off the old sentiments of aristocracy? He has no problem proving that, and does so thoroughly and consistently. Wood emphasizes ideas and painstakingly explains rapidly changing cultural norms, foregoing the patriotic drama of other accounts of the period. Only they did not know they could scarcely have imagined how much of their society they would change. The second half of the book is much more interesting.
In waging war, the Founding Fathers wanted to save the spirit of the old system and restore government to a conglomeration of pure, gentlemen-run institutions that protected and advanced the public welfare. Wood covers an enormous amount of material without ever letting it up, yet the book coalesces into a brilliant narrative. Well, he succeeded with flying colors. It reads like a textbook and as such can get pretty dry. This book is not an easy read. But textbooks can also be fascinating.
Conversely, if a dressmaker had run out of work, her patrons recognizing her reliance on them would typically place orders just to keep her solvent. The colonists were diverse in not only nationalities but also in religion. This, despite errors in detail, seems to have been the case overall. I had never considered the full impact of the American Revolution, beyond the overarching change from a hereditary and despotic monarchy to a democracy. America was an enormously diverse society as a colonial entity and becme united only by the mutual desire to be independent. Without regurgitating the wonderful detail Wood imbues in the narrative, below is a brief sketch of his depiction of the colonies that give to his central argument. Therefore any possibility of oppression, any threat to the colonists' hard earned prosperity, any hint of reducing them to the povery of other nations, was especially frightening; for it seemed likely to slide them back into the traditional status of servants or slaves, into the older world where labor was merely a painful necessity and not a source of prosperity.
A provocative, highly accomplished examination of how American society was reshaped in the cauldron of revolution. The concept of strict control and absolute obedience was being replaced by the idea of parents and children having responsibilities to each other. It was only by way of revisionist history which represented our American founders as stable pillars of traditionalism that we have been conditioned to think that the American Revolution was not as radical as the nearly contemporary French Revolution which began in 1789. Wood doesn't write the book chronologically; there are no story arcs, protagonists, etc. This enabled Americans to loosen the former bands of society e. The revolution made it possible to begin the debate on freeing slaves, and that alone is an underappreciated and radical consequence.
The English people enjoyed their liberty, and took comfort knowing that liberty was safeguarded in established English law, customs, privileges, and a natural authority vested in the crown. By far the most interesting passages in the book don't belong to Wood but to the historical personalities he quotes; unfortunately, far too many of their quotes were sliced and diced by Wood's commentaries and interpretations, but the reader may have been better served by reading the direct passage. Commoners were not allowed to occupy any important office since it would denigrate gentlemen to deal on important matters with a commoner. How did it diffuse throughout the population, eventually illuminating not only white male property holders but also women, African slaves, and others? To begin with, I don't want to diminish the additional No matter how deep, how far, and how much I swim in American History, I always find something of interest and something new that informs my perspective and love for my nation's history. All these new immigrants started taking up the land in New England, making it so that prospective immigrants and American-born colonists looking for new land would have to migrate into the Western territories such as Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. Thus, during and after the revolution, the colonists grew up. I found his analysis absolutely fascinating.
In fact, never once does Mr, Wood err in applying 20th or 21st century values to 18th century persons, and that alone, makes The Radicalism of the American Revolution a remarkable book. Don't despair; this is totally natural, as American society is all of those things: complex, gray, and most certainly contradictory. Definitely worth the listen, but it's not for beginners: you'll need a basic understanding of the timeline and leaders from the 1700's and early 1800's to know who Woods is referring to. Wood illustrates this with Thomas Jefferson who, in his waning years, struggled to promote higher learning in gaining support for his University of Virginia. The founding fathers were essentially a group of only-just gentry who chafed under a social structure that inevitably relegated them to a second-tier sort of preeminence.