Catalogue


Inheriting the revolution [electronic resource] : the first generation of Americans /
Joyce Appleby.
edition
1st Harvard University Press paperback ed.
imprint
Cambridge, MA : Belknap Press, 2001.
description
viii, 322 p. : ill.
ISBN
0674006631, 9780674006638
format(s)
Book
More Details
added author
imprint
Cambridge, MA : Belknap Press, 2001.
isbn
0674006631
9780674006638
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
11950650
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [269]-311) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-09-01:
Appleby's creative synthesis of the post-Revolutionary generation is a delightful book that will enrich virtually everyone who reads it. Drawing chiefly on autobiographies, she ranges far and wide over the generation that came of age in the 1790s and was active in the early republic until the 1830s. What a varied lot these Americans were! Appleby provides a good introduction to the major themes of the early republic, surveying such topics as the response to the Revolutionary tradition, interpersonal relations, careers, reform, distinctions of class and status, and the question of national identity. Her engaging style draws the reader into the lives of people who appear to be largely autonomous individuals, by and large successful in life. In doing so, Appleby focuses on that generation's social and intellectual construction of reality. In the process she develops an argument for the origins of modern American exceptionalism. This is an entertaining as well as enlightening account of a democratic and optimistic society searching for its future. All levels. J. Andrew; Franklin and Marshall College
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2000-02-21:
An esteemed historian of early America, Appleby (UCLA) has written a social history of "the first generation of Americans"Änot those who fought the American Revolution but, as her title indicates, those who inherited it, who had to figure out just what their parents' bold declarations of liberty looked like on the ground. Appleby's lens is wide: she investigates religion, business, family life and politics, examining this generation's struggles with slavery, their musings on the proper role of women and their participation in evangelical revivals. One of the more innovative discussions comes in the chapter "Careers," in which Appleby argues that those who came of age after the revolution often earned their daily bread doing tasks their parents could not have imagined. Many continued to farm, of course, but others headed to cities to run businesses, teach school, preach sermons, build buildings, publish books. Indeed, Appleby notes that in the Revolutionary era, the term "career" "denote[d] a horse-racing course"; it was only after 1800 that it was used to describe the trajectory of a person's vocation. Appleby strains to pay attention to the South, but her book betrays a certain Northern biasÄher focus on the development of capitalism and the incursion of the market better describe the industrializing North than the slaveholding South, which, in historian Eugene Genovese's phrase, was in the market, but not of it. But that is a small quibble with a wonderful book, which freshly conveys the energy and creativity unleashed in a generation forging a new national identity. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
Pungent, vivid narrative, magisterial sweep, and imaginative explorations fuel Appleby's compelling account of the early republic's improbable, extraordinary birth--a masterful achievement by one of our most distinguished historians.
In this sweeping and gracefully-written interpretation of the Republic's early decades, Joyce Appleby examines the aspirations and achievements of Americans who came of age between roughly 1790 and 1830...Appleby is sensitive to differences in race and gender, and she incorporates both African Americans and white women into her larger analysis of the period. Indeed, because she often uses stories of individual lives to illustrate general social and cultural trends, this book includes some fascinating vignettes of self-made women and men.
Joyce Appleby deals with two themes in this book: the historical experience of the generation after the American Revolution and conflicts within American identity. The result is Whitmanesque, both in its complex but coherent vision and in its elegant expression.
Joyce Appleby...has created a collective portrait of the generation of men and women born in the United States between 1776 and 1800, and on the basis of their lives and values ventures an answer to Crevecoeur's query that is intriguing, sophisticated and anything but exceptionalist. Anyone curious about how Americans came to understand themselves as a people would do well to read this book. Appleby maintains that Americans first defined their national identity by infusing meaning into the Revolution to which they were heirs...Inheriting the Revolution must also command the respect of all scholars who seek to understand the origins of American culture and identity.
Joyce Appleby...has created a collective portrait of the generation of men and women born in the United States between 1776 and 1800, and on the basis of their lives and values ventures an answer to Crevecoeur's query that is intriguing, sophisticated and anything but exceptionalist. Anyone curious about how Americans came to understand themselves as a people would do well to read this book. Appleby maintains that Americans first defined their national identity by infusing meaning into the Revolution to which they were heirs... Inheriting the Revolution must also command the respect of all scholars who seek to understand the origins of American culture and identity.
The life histories are indeed a rich source, providing Appleby with the parade of arresting stories and anecdotes that grace her text...Joyce Appleby has accomplished the very difficult task of demonstrating ways in which men and women, simply by living and striving in what was for them a free environment, created the connection among revolutionary liberty, individual self-improvement, and national growth that became a powerful version of American-ness in the nineteenth century.
Appleby documents, in precise and persuasive detail, the evolution and elaboration of assumptions about what it is to be an American that we now take completely for granted. What we think of as the "natural phenomenon" of individualism, for example, she describes as first appearing in the "prototype for the self-made man," who eventually evolved into "a new character ideal...the man who developed inner resources, acted independently, lived virtuously, and bent his behavior to his personal goals--not the American Adam, but the American homo faber , the builder."
Joyce Appleby's influential argument for the democratic transformation of post-revolutionary America takes on new power and persuasiveness in her engaging biographical portrait of The First Generation. Artfully weaving personal narratives and sophisticated analyses into an evocative account of a new people's coming of age, Appleby sets the agenda for a new generation of scholarship. While never losing sight of the conflicts and contradictions that jeopardized the nation's future prospects, she brilliantly captures the dynamism and energy of her extraordinary cohort.
Joyce Appleby's dazzling narrative takes us into the lives of the Americans who inherited the Revolution. With Appleby we glimpse the men and women--black and white, immigrant and old stock--who invented the distinctive social and cultural forms that we ourselves have inherited. We see ourselves anew in the originating impulses of participatory politics, in the rise of capitalist culture, in the shifting relation between the personal and the civic, and in the myriad ways in which we struggle to fulfill the promise of America. Reading Inheriting the Revolution we reckon with the America we are still making.
The result is an empirically grounded yet extraordinarily dynamic foray into the multivalent experience of America's first nation-builders...Appleby has nonetheless written a brilliant page-turner, filled with insights, and truly a feast of period detail for general history readers...Appleby has successfully taken on one of the most difficult tasks for early American historians: discovering the origins of American national identity in the welter of social and cultural forces shaping the new republic, while mindful of the civil calamity between North and South lying ahead.
A highly original book, written very engagingly, by an author with a gift for apt phrases. The autobiographies include many fascinating accounts of little known people. Appleby's book will take an important place in the ongoing debates about its period. Inheriting the Revolution reflects the enthusiasm, maturity, common sense, and wisdom of its author.
Joyce Appleby perfectly captures the world created by the sons and daughters of the American Revolution. Enterprising and energetic, mad about money and seemingly constantly on the move, deeply pious and convinced of their own capacity to shape their own destinies, they took their Revolutionary legacy and made it into the world that we still inhabit, if with a little less optimism and a better sense of its contradictions.
In her rich new book...[Appleby] argues that the first generation of Americans...experienced a degree of political and social change unrivalled before or since...This first generation reached a kind of closure about the meaning of democracy that has made it difficult for succeeding generations to articulate a vision of America other than the one they created: a society devoted to individualism and free enterprise...What emerges is a striking tale, on its face one of the most celebratory accounts of American gumption in recent historiography.
Inheriting the Revolution is a welcome addition to the now-rich literature on the early American republic. Informed by Joyce Appleby's deep knowledge of the period's politics and political ideology, it portrays a society in a fresh stage of development, and a people defining themselves in the context not just of a new nationhood, but of the material and geographical circumstances the American Revolution created. No one concerned with the early United States or the longer trajectory of US development should ignore this book.
A treasure-trove of information about the early republic, recreating an era that mixed cultural and emotional chaos with unprecedented opportunities at all levels of society...Although Appleby's purpose is to examine social contexts rather than anomalous individuals, the materials she uses vividly evoke the lived experiences of real people. Drawn from hundreds of diaries, letters, memoirs, and records of the obscure as well as the famous, her panorama.Appleby presents the explosion of possibilities at the beginning of the 19th century in sparkling, jargon-free prose and vibrant detail, producing an indispensable guide to a fascinating, turbulent time.
[Appleby] gives us an extended meditation on what happened to American society during the generation that grew up in the aftermath of the Revolution...Her fine, well-informed intelligence plays across this vast sea of biographical information and recreates the world her subjects inhabited...Everything is made fresh in these pages. The combination of out-of-the-way stories unearthed from the autobiographies and Appleby's own ingenuity and insight puts the familiar in a new light.
[Appleby] examines in exhaustive (but not exhausting) detail how "the first generation of Americans" reshaped virtually every aspect of American society. Commerce, religion, domestic life, personal behavior. They left nothing untouched, operating under the assumption that their "Revolutionary heritage" was nothing less than "a call to innovation, enterprise, reform and progress"
Appleby documents, in precise and persuasive detail, the evolution and elaboration of assumptions about what it is to be an American that we now take completely for granted. What we think of as the "natural phenomenon" of individualism, for example, she describes as first appearing in the "prototype for the self-made man," who eventually evolved into "a new character ideal...the man who developed inner resources, acted independently, lived virtuously, and bent his behavior to his personal goals--not the American Adam, but the American homo faber, the builder."
An esteemed historian of early America, Appleby has written a social history of 'the first generation of Americans"--not those who fought the American Revolution but, as her title indicates, those who inherited it, who had to figure out just what their parents" bold declarations of liberty looked like on the ground...[This is] a wonderful book, which freshly conveys the energy and creativity unleashed in a generation forging a new national identity.
[A] fascinating study of how citizens of the newly constituted form of government seized the opportunities their break with the Old World offered them.
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Summaries
Main Description
Born after the Revolution, the first generation of Americans inherited a truly new world--and, with it, the task of working out the terms of Independence. Anyone who started a business, marketed a new invention, ran for office, formed an association, or wrote for publication was helping to fashion the world's first liberal society. These are the people we encounter in Inheriting the Revolution , a vibrant tapestry of the lives, callings, decisions, desires, and reflections of those Americans who turned the new abstractions of democracy, the nation, and free enterprise into contested realities. Through data gathered on thousands of people, as well as hundreds of memoirs and autobiographies, Joyce Appleby tells myriad intersecting stories of how Americans born between 1776 and 1830 reinvented themselves and their society in politics, economics, reform, religion, and culture. They also had to grapple with the new distinction of free and slave labor, with all its divisive social entailments; the rout of Enlightenment rationality by the warm passions of religious awakening; the explosion of small business opportunities for young people eager to break out of their parents' colonial cocoon. Few in the nation escaped the transforming intrusiveness of these changes. Working these experiences into a vivid picture of American cultural renovation, Appleby crafts an extraordinary--and deeply affecting--account of how the first generation established its own culture, its own nation, its own identity. The passage of social responsibility from one generation to another is always a fascinating interplay of the inherited and the novel; this book shows how, in the early nineteenth century, the very idea of generations resonated with new meaning in the United States.
Main Description
Born after the Revolution, the first generation of Americans inherited a truly new world--and, with it, the task of working out the terms of Independence. Anyone who started a business, marketed a new invention, ran for office, formed an association, or wrote for publication was helping to fashion the world's first liberal society. These are the people we encounter in Inheriting the Revolution, a vibrant tapestry of the lives, callings, decisions, desires, and reflections of those Americans who turned the new abstractions of democracy, the nation, and free enterprise into contested realities. Through data gathered on thousands of people, as well as hundreds of memoirs and autobiographies, Joyce Appleby tells myriad intersecting stories of how Americans born between 1776 and 1830 reinvented themselves and their society in politics, economics, reform, religion, and culture. They also had to grapple with the new distinction of free and slave labor, with all its divisive social entailments; the rout of Enlightenment rationality by the warm passions of religious awakening; the explosion of small business opportunities for young people eager to break out of their parents' colonial cocoon. Few in the nation escaped the transforming intrusiveness of these changes. Working these experiences into a vivid picture of American cultural renovation, Appleby crafts an extraordinary--and deeply affecting--account of how the first generation established its own culture, its own nation, its own identity. The passage of social responsibility from one generation to another is always a fascinating interplay of the inherited and the novel; this book shows how, in the early nineteenth century, the very idea of generations resonated with new meaning in the United States.
Table of Contents
Introduction
Responding to a Revolutionary Tradition
Enterprise
Careers
Distinctions
Intimate Relations
Reform
A New National Identity
Notes
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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