In the American colonies of the 1770s, people were fed up with British laws. Local farmers and tradesmen secretly formed a militia. In 1775, when the British marched into Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, the Americans were ready. From that first battle to the final showdown at Yorktown, the Americans fought against tremendous odds. The British army was bigger and better trained. Food and guns were scarce. But George Washington's ragged army fought for-and won-the freedom and independence we cherish to this day.Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, the tale of our country's fight for independence is brought to life in fast-moving, dramatic detail.
A famed historian sums up his life's work; his first book since winning the Pulitzer Prize. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 18, 2003
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Excerpt from The American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
The origins of the Revolution necessarily lie deep in America ' s past. A century and a half of dynamic developments in the British continental colonies of the New World had fundamentally transformed inherited European institutions and customary patterns of life and had left many colonists believing that they were seriously deviating from the cultivated norms of European life. In comparison with prosperous and powerful metropolitan England, America in the middle of the eighteenth century seemed a primitive, backward place, disordered and turbulent, without a real aristocracy, without magnificent courts or large urban centers, indeed, without any of the attributes of the civilized world. Consequently, the colonists repeatedly felt pressed to apologize for the crudity of their society, the insignificance of their art and literature, and the triviality of their affairs.
Suddenly in the 1760s Great Britain thrust its imperial power into this changing world with a thoroughness that had not been felt in a century and precipitated a crisis within the loosely organized empire. American resistance turned into rebellion; but as the colonists groped to make sense of the peculiarities of their society, this rebellion became a justification and idealization of American life as it had gradually and unintentionally developed over the previous century and a half. Instead of being in the backwaters of history, Americans suddenly saw themselves as a new society ideally equipped for a republican future. In this sense, as John Adams later said, ' the Revolution was effected before the war commenced. ' It was a change ' in the minds and hearts of the people. '
But this change was not the whole American Revolution. The Revolution was not simply an intellectual endorsement of a previously existing social reality. It was also an integral part of the great transforming process that carried America into the liberal democratic society of the modern world. Although colonial America was already a different place from Europe in 1760, it still retained, along with powdered wigs and knee breeches, many traditional habits of monarchical behavior and dependent social relationships. The Revolution shattered what remained of these traditional patterns of life and prepared the way for the more fluid, bustling, individualistic world that followed.
The changes were remarkable, and they gave the American people as grand a vision of their future as any people have ever had. Americans saw their new nation not only leading a world revolution on behalf of republicanism and liberty but also becoming the place where the best of all the arts and sciences would flourish. What began as a colonial rebellion on the very edges of the civilized world was transformed into an earth-shaking event ' an event that promised, as one clergyman declared, to create out of the ' perishing World . . . a new World, a young world, a World of countless Millions, all in the fair Bloom of Piety. '