Taming Democracy: "The People", The Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution

Terry Bouton

Anno: 2009
Rilegatura: Paperback / softback
Pagine: 344 p.
Testo in English
Dimensioni: 235 x 150 mm
Peso: 491 gr.
  • EAN: 9780195378566
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Americans are fond of reflecting upon the Founding Fathers as selfless patriots who came together to force out the tyranny of the British and bring democracy to the land. Unfortunately, as Terry Bouton shows in this highly provocative first book, the Revolutionary elite often seemed as determined to squash democracy after the War of Independence as they were to support it before the conflict. Centering on Pennsylvania, the symbolic center of the story of democracy's rise during the Revolution, Bouton shows how this radical shift in ideology spelled tragedy for thousands of common people. Leading up to the Revolution, most Pennsylvanians were united in their opinion that "the people" (i.e. white men) should be given access to the political system, and that some degree of wealth equality was required to ensure that political freedom prevailed. As the war ended, Pennsylvania's elites began abandoning these ideas and instead embraced a new vision of the Revolution where government worked to transfer wealth to "moneyed men." By the 1780s, that effort had led them to reenact many of the same laws that they had gone to war to abolish, creating a deep economic depression. When ordinary citizens fought back and tried to reclaim their own vision of the Revolution, the founding elite remade governments to scale back the meaning and practice of democracy. It was this radical narrowing of popular ideals that led directly to the misnamed Whiskey and Fries rebellions, popular uprisings during the 1790s that were both put down by federal armies. Bouton's work reveals a unique perspective, showing intimately how the war and the events that followed affected the majority of "the people": small farmers, craftsmen, and laborers. Bouton introduces us to the Revolution's unsung heroes - farmers, weavers, and tailors who risked their lives to create democracy and then to defend it against what they called the forces of "united avarice." We also get a starkly new look some familiar characters from the Revolution, including Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Robert Morris, and George Washington, men who Bouton strives to make readers see as real, flawed people, blinded by their own sense of entitlement.