Introduction: American Revolutions

Edward G. Gray and Jane Kamensky

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746705
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Introduction: American Revolutions

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The American Revolution is a significant event in the history of the United States, yet has generated little interest among academic historians. This stems from two seemingly irreconcilable interpretations of the formation of the United States. Some view the Revolution as an intellectual event, while many social historians see it as a fundamentally popular and even populist revolt in which self-interested elites were challenged by ordinary people. This book explores what the American Revolution means at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Readers in the United States consider the histories of the war between Britain and her mainland North American colonies as origins stories. America's Revolution was Britain's American War, an episode in the entangled history of a vast and growing empire. It offers a continental perspective on the Revolution, focusing on contested North American frontiers. The book suggests a major shift in the core narrative of the Revolution, showing how the familiar tale of money and politics—taxation and representation—is joined and made more complex by stories focused on territorial sovereignty and native dispossession.

Keywords: American Revolution; Britain; colonies; politics; United States; elites; territorial sovereignty; taxation; representation

Article.  5419 words. 

Subjects: History ; United States History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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