Posts Tagged: American History

Review: Ideology and the American Revolution

The empire-wide political crisis of the 1760s, generated in great part by the success of British commercial and political ambitions, forms the backdrop to the American Revolution. While the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 marked a defeat of France by the British Empire, domestic opposition within Britain reached a new height. The empire’s territorial gains, a growing imperial debt, and a greater bureaucratic centralization of the military commercial empire intensified tensions in the already-existing continental opposition. The political culture of the 1760s and 1770s was driven by debates over the nature of government and its dealings in commercial affairs. Country Whigs in England looked with “great nostalgia to when men of independent means controlled the destiny of Parliament” (Bailyn, Origins of American Politics, 50), while a new voice of radicalism, the adopted son of the colonies, Tom Paine, blamed the regressive conditions of the Old World for stifling liberty.

Review: Ideology and the American Revolution

The empire-wide political crisis of the 1760s, generated in great part by the success of British commercial and political ambitions, forms the backdrop to the American Revolution. While the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 marked a defeat of France by the British Empire, domestic opposition within Britain reached a new height. The empire’s territorial gains, a growing imperial debt, and a greater bureaucratic centralization of the military commercial empire intensified tensions in the already-existing continental opposition. The political culture of the 1760s and 1770s was driven by debates over the nature of government and its dealings in commercial affairs. Country Whigs in England looked with “great nostalgia to when men of independent means controlled the destiny of Parliament” (Bailyn, Origins of American Politics, 50), while a new voice of radicalism, the adopted son of the colonies, Tom Paine, blamed the regressive conditions of the Old World for stifling liberty.

Review: Origins of the New South

Woodward’s cast of characters is dizzying at first glance. At the beginning of the conflict are the “Redeemers,” these latter-day Whigs gained political power on a platform of restoring “home rule” and overthrowing the legacy of corruption left by the Radicals. They were extremely distrustful of legislatures, and espoused a program that conveniently aligned with factory owners, railroad men, and merchants of Charleston, Columbia and other cities. In the end, this plan did little to promote the growth of an indigenous, and independent, Southern capitalist class; the introduction of new Southern economic development was subject to the leadership of Eastern capital interests, thus, Redeemers were the middlemen in a process that pinned Eastern capital interests against the “unredeemed farmer” and the Southern freeman.

Review: Origins of the New South

Woodward’s cast of characters is dizzying at first glance. At the beginning of the conflict are the “Redeemers,” these latter-day Whigs gained political power on a platform of restoring “home rule” and overthrowing the legacy of corruption left by the Radicals. They were extremely distrustful of legislatures, and espoused a program that conveniently aligned with factory owners, railroad men, and merchants of Charleston, Columbia and other cities. In the end, this plan did little to promote the growth of an indigenous, and independent, Southern capitalist class; the introduction of new Southern economic development was subject to the leadership of Eastern capital interests, thus, Redeemers were the middlemen in a process that pinned Eastern capital interests against the “unredeemed farmer” and the Southern freeman.

Review: Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South

Adam Rothman’s Slave Country sharply presents the making of the Deep South, i.e., what we now know as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. He argues, in agreement with Davis and Blackburn, that the structure of politics in the United States amplified the Southern planters’ power, and in so doing, augmented the influence of slavery over national politics. Rothman provides a careful description of both the cotton and sugar plantation economies in the region and their intersection with territorial expansion in the early nineteenth century.

Review: Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South

Adam Rothman’s Slave Country sharply presents the making of the Deep South, i.e., what we now know as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. He argues, in agreement with Davis and Blackburn, that the structure of politics in the United States amplified the Southern planters’ power, and in so doing, augmented the influence of slavery over national politics. Rothman provides a careful description of both the cotton and sugar plantation economies in the region and their intersection with territorial expansion in the early nineteenth century.

Review: American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights

Blackburn’s American Crucible contains a thorough review of Atlantic historical scholarship with an emphasis on Atlantic Revolutions, slavery and abolitionist thought. He revisits Eric Williams’s famous thesis on the role of modern slavery as key to the development of industrial revolution, spearheaded by the British. Blackburn concludes that while slavery was key to the relative political dominance of Britain, the expansion of industrial capitalism could have happened without the system of slavery.

Review: American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights

Blackburn’s American Crucible contains a thorough review of Atlantic historical scholarship with an emphasis on Atlantic Revolutions, slavery and abolitionist thought. He revisits Eric Williams’s famous thesis on the role of modern slavery as key to the development of industrial revolution, spearheaded by the British. Blackburn concludes that while slavery was key to the relative political dominance of Britain, the expansion of industrial capitalism could have happened without the system of slavery.

Review: Mockingbird Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South

While presenting a detailed account on the transformation of the natural environment in the South, the book is less successful at coming to grips with the nature of human interaction with nature. Kirby portrays modern social relations as the shadows of the abstract force of “Modernity,” a term that despite making a recurring appearance is not well-defined in his narrative. At time, modernity appears as an extension of “European imperialism,” at other times it is the force behind the post-Civil War transformation of the Southern landscape.

Review: Mockingbird Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South

While presenting a detailed account on the transformation of the natural environment in the South, the book is less successful at coming to grips with the nature of human interaction with nature. Kirby portrays modern social relations as the shadows of the abstract force of “Modernity,” a term that despite making a recurring appearance is not well-defined in his narrative. At time, modernity appears as an extension of “European imperialism,” at other times it is the force behind the post-Civil War transformation of the Southern landscape.

Review: Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life argues that the invocation of “race” obscures the nature of social inequality, masking problems of an economic and political nature under the guise of race and racism. Fields & Fields argue that despite the inadequacy of the term, race has become a real abstraction, i.e., an ideology. Key to their understanding of the emergence of race is the role that it played in justifying — and rationalizing– the system of American black slavery.

Review: Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life argues that the invocation of “race” obscures the nature of social inequality, masking problems of an economic and political nature under the guise of race and racism. Fields & Fields argue that despite the inadequacy of the term, race has become a real abstraction, i.e., an ideology. Key to their understanding of the emergence of race is the role that it played in justifying — and rationalizing– the system of American black slavery.

Lincoln: “Get up, you hussy!”

“It would astonish if not amuse, the older citizens to learn that I (a stranger, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy, working on a flatboat at ten dollars per month) have been put down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic family distinction.”

Lincoln: “Get up, you hussy!”

“It would astonish if not amuse, the older citizens to learn that I (a stranger, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy, working on a flatboat at ten dollars per month) have been put down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic family distinction.”