Revolutionary New England, 1691-1776

By James Truslow Adams | Go to book overview

PREFACE

IN the first volume of this series, -- The Founding of New England, -- we were occupied mainly with the origins of colonial life in the section under consideration. The matters there discussed dealt to a great extent with the discoveries and early settlement, the various factors shaping the first organization and development of the colonies, and the views held both by the colonists and the English government as to the relations between the colonies and the mother country.

In the present volume the story is carried from 1691, the approximate date of the close of the narrative in the preceding, to the Declaration of Independence and the ending of the colonial status of the New England settlements. Perhaps no period of our history is richer in easily accessible original material, monographic studies or secondary historical works than that which is somewhat loosely called the Revolutionary period, from 1763 onward. Scholars of the present generation in particular have devoted themselves to a much needed reëxamination of the events of those years and a revaluation of the tendencies disclosed. As a result of their labors our views of the imperial struggle have undergone a profound alteration, and we have become far more acutely aware of the double nature of the struggle as at once a political contest between colonies and mother country, and a social revolution in the colonies themselves.

It is noteworthy, however, that, with some important exceptions, the new studies have been confined almost wholly to the more appealing and dramatic period from the Peace of Paris in 1763 to the outbreak of hostilities, and that they have largely neglected the task of tracing the origins of radical thought and the growth of grievancies and of parties during the preceding half-century. The increased importance which we now attach to the domestic social revolution and the somewhat decreased influence which we attribute to the purely imperial difficulties, place us, so far as our present knowledge goes, in a somewhat

-V-

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