Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans

Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans

Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans

Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans

Excerpt

I began this study inductively following the lives of several thousand American men and women born between 1776 and 1800, but, of course, having studied American history for over forty years, my mind was hardly a tabula rasa. My goal was to examine the "inheriting generation," the children and grandchildren of those who participated in the revolutionary break with Great Britain that conferred formal nationhood on a cluster of New World colonies. Much of their collective story will be familiar, but not, I think, the multifarious ways that as individuals confronting a new set of options, they crafted the political style, social forms, and economic ventures of an independent United States.

My research strategy resembled a vacuum cleaner. Reading in primary and secondary sources, I made cards on every member of my cohort whom I encountered. More systematically I looked for records of them in standard encyclopedias, school registers, and manuscript collections. From . . .

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