Stories of independence : identity, ideology, and history in eighteenth-century America /
Peter C. Messer.
1st ed.
DeKalb : Northern Illinois University Press, c2005.
x, 258 p. ; 24 cm.
0875803504 (clothbound : alk. paper), 9780875803500 (clothbound : alk. paper)
More Details
DeKalb : Northern Illinois University Press, c2005.
0875803504 (clothbound : alk. paper)
9780875803500 (clothbound : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 225-240) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2006-11-01:
Dissertations metamorphosed into published monographs are often heavy reading, and this one is no exception. But the author makes a very persuasive case for his central thesis: that the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers strongly permeated American historical consciousness before and after the Revolution, and that the histories written under that influence were critical to the formation of an American sense of identity. Messer (Mississippi State Univ.) also explores attitudes toward nature, Native Americans, women, and slavery as revealed in the histories of such writers as David Ramsay and Mercy Otis Warren. Part 1, "Colonial Precedents," covers the evolution of a sense of community in the Colonies. Part 2, "Revolutionary Implications," outlines the conflict that emerged between historians who stressed continuity with British institutions and those who saw a better future in homegrown American ideals. Part 3, "Early National Consequences," is an original contribution to the role played by historians in the crafting of America's national mythos. An appendix with biographical sketches of the historians is particularly valuable. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty. T. S. Martin Sinclair Community College
Review Quotes
"An excellent book ... meticulously researched and methodically organized."- American Historical Review "[A] penetrating study ... welcome for its original insights into the Revolution's ideological origins, its ambiguous legacy, and, ... the centrality of cultural politics to American political culture. Among the best recent studies of republican ideology."- The Journal of American History "Original and erudite ... an important step in understanding the rise and development of a unique mode of American historical thought as well as its contribution to the formation of social and poltical behavior in America."- William and Mary Quarterly
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 2006
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Author Comments
Peter C. Messer is Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi State University. He holds a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers.
Main Description
Peter C. Messer demonstrates that a strong sense of a shared past transformed British subjects into American citizens. He traces the emergence of distinctively American attitudes about society, politics, and government through the written history of the American experience. Stories of Independence argues that the way early Americans wrote about their own history-from colonial times, to the heady days of the Revolution, to the uneasy decades following independence-helped shape the future of this young nation. Differences between American colonists and the British government became increasingly contentious over the course of the eighteenth century as distinctive American identities emerged among the colonists. Grounded in common values and the shared experiences of creating communities in a new world, these identities would eventually liberate Americans to declare their independence and experiment with new forms of government. During the colonial period, provincial historians celebrated the autonomous origins and local institutions of their communities as a way of arguing for greater independence from Great Britain. Imperial historians, on the other hand, stressed allegiance to the mother country and the English institutions that continued to sustain them. When relations with Britain reached a crisis, these visions of provincial pride and imperial loyalty came into open and irreconcilable conflict. The resulting debate produced not only a declaration of independence but a new political order grounded on the provincial vision of the origins and progress of America. When the political turmoil of the 1780s and 1790s threatened to fragment the new republic, historians turned to the provincial vision of history to fashion a past for their nation from which they could create a unifying national identity. Their stories of the drive for independence and the founding of the United States helped both cement and limit the innovations in political thought produced by their provincial and revolutionary predecessors.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction-Identity, Ideology, and Historyp. 3
Colonial Precedents
Autonomous Communities within an Empirep. 17
Dissent and the Alternative that Was Lostp. 45
Revolutionary Implications
A Revolution in Defense of Historyp. 73
Early National Consequences
Securing Republican Foundationsp. 105
Political Compromises and Cultural Imperativesp. 139
Epilogue-Liberal Denouementp. 170
Chronology of American Historiesp. 183
Biographical Sketches of the Historiansp. 187
Notesp. 199
Works Citedp. 225
Indexp. 241
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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