Inheriting the Revolution by Joyce Appleby
The First Generation of Americans

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Born after the Revolution, the first generation of Americans inherited a truly new world--and, with it, the task of working out the terms of Independence. Anyone who started a business, marketed a new invention, ran for office, formed an association, or wrote for publication was helping to fashion the world's first liberal society. These are the people we encounter in Inheriting the Revolution, a vibrant tapestry of the lives, callings, decisions, desires, and reflections of those Americans who turned the new abstractions of democracy, the nation, and free enterprise into contested realities.

Through data gathered on thousands of people, as well as hundreds of memoirs and autobiographies, Joyce Appleby tells myriad intersecting stories of how Americans born between 1776 and 1830 reinvented themselves and their society in politics, economics, reform, religion, and culture. They also had to grapple with the new distinction of free and slave labor, with all its divisive social entailments; the rout of Enlightenment rationality by the warm passions of religious awakening; the explosion of small business opportunities for young people eager to break out of their parents' colonial cocoon. Few in the nation escaped the transforming intrusiveness of these changes. Working these experiences into a vivid picture of American cultural renovation, Appleby crafts an extraordinary--and deeply affecting--account of how the first generation established its own culture, its own nation, its own identity.

The passage of social responsibility from one generation to another is always a fascinating interplay of the inherited and the novel; this book shows how, in the early nineteenth century, the very idea of generations resonated with new meaning in the United States.


About Joyce Appleby

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Joyce Appleby is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of "Economic Thought and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England" which was awarded the 1979 Berkshire book prize.
Published April 7, 2000 by Belknap Press. 322 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction

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Appleby dramatizes daily life in a brand-new nation in which dueling was an accepted form of political discourse, counterfeit currency was nearly as valuable as genuine, and young men and women sallied forth to adventures and careers their forebears could not have imagined.

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Publishers Weekly

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Appleby strains to pay attention to the South, but her book betrays a certain Northern bias--her focus on the development of capitalism and the incursion of the market better describe the industrializing North than the slaveholding South, which, in historian Eugene Genovese's phrase, was in the m...

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London Review of Books

Crèvecoeur’s famous question was: ‘What then is this new man the American?’ His immediate answer – ‘that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country’ – suggested that American identity was fashioned by boys meeting and getting girls in defiance of parental expectations to ma...

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Project MUSE

We can make tests of her hypothesis by examining previous and subsequent cohorts (in matters, say, of dueling or lynching), or by judging cohorts in other quasidemocratic countries, such as the Netherlands or the future Canada or Australia.

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