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The Will of the People

The Will of the People

The Revolutionary Birth of America

T. H. Breen

ISBN 9780674242050

Publication date: 09/17/2019

“Important and lucidly written…The American Revolution involved not simply the wisdom of a few great men but the passions, fears, and religiosity of ordinary people.”
—Gordon S. Wood

In this boldly innovative work, T. H. Breen spotlights a crucial missing piece in the stories we tell about the American Revolution. From New Hampshire to Georgia, it was ordinary people who became the face of resistance. Without them the Revolution would have failed. They sustained the commitment to independence when victory seemed in doubt and chose law over vengeance when their communities teetered on the brink of anarchy.

The Will of the People offers a vivid account of how, across the thirteen colonies, men and women negotiated the revolutionary experience, accepting huge personal sacrifice, setting up daring experiments in self-government, and going to extraordinary lengths to preserve the rule of law. After the war they avoided the violence and extremism that have compromised so many other revolutions since. A masterful storyteller, Breen recovers the forgotten history of our nation’s true founders.

“The American Revolution was made not just on the battlefields or in the minds of intellectuals, Breen argues in this elegant and persuasive work. Communities of ordinary men and women—farmers, workers, and artisans who kept the revolutionary faith until victory was achieved—were essential to the effort.”
—Annette Gordon-Reed

“Breen traces the many ways in which exercising authority made local committees pragmatic…acting as a brake on the kind of violent excess into which revolutions so easily devolve.”
Wall Street Journal

Author

  • T. H. Breen is John Kluge Professor of American Law and Governance at the Library of Congress and Founding Director of the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies at Northwestern University. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he has taught American history at Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale universities and is James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont. He is the author of many books, including George Washington’s Journey, winner of the History Prize of the Society of the Cincinnati and finalist for the George Washington Book Prize; and Marketplace of Revolution, winner of the Society of Colonial Wars Book Award. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and Times Literary Supplement.

Book Details

  • Belknap Press

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