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Between Sovereignty and Anarchy

The Politics of Violence in the American Revolutionary Era
Edited by Patrick Griffin, Robert G. Ingram, Peter S. Onuf, and Brian Schoen

BUY Cloth · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813936789 · $45.00 · Apr 2015
BUY Ebook · 288 pp. · ISBN 9780813936796 · $45.00 · Apr 2015

Between Sovereignty and Anarchy considers the conceptual and political problem of violence in the early modern Anglo-Atlantic, charting an innovative approach to the history of the American Revolution. Its editors and contributors contend that existing scholarship on the Revolution largely ignores questions of power and downplays the Revolution as a contest over sovereignty. Contributors employ a variety of methodologies to examine diverse themes, ranging from how Atlantic perspectives can redefine our understanding of revolutionary origins, to the ways in which political culture, mobilization, and civil-war-like violence were part of the revolutionary process, to the fundamental importance of state formation for the history of the early republic.

The editors skillfully meld these emerging currents to produce a new perspective on the American Revolution, revealing how America—first as colonies, then as united states—reeled between poles of anarchy and sovereignty. This interpretation—gleaned from essays on frontier bloodshed, religion, civility, slavery, loyalism, mobilization, early national political culture, and war making—provides a needed stimulus to a field that has not strayed beyond the bounds of "rhetoric versus reality" for more than a generation. Between Sovereignty and Anarchy raises foundational questions about how we are to view the American Revolution and the experimental democracy that emerged in its wake.

Contributors: Chris Beneke, Bentley University · Andrew Cayton, Miami University · Matthew Rainbow Hale, Goucher College · David C. Hendrickson, Colorado College · John C. Kotruch, University of New Hampshire · Peter C. Messer, Mississippi State University · Kenneth Owen, University of Illinois at Springfield · Jeffrey L. Pasley, University of Missouri, Columbia · Jessica Choppin Roney, Temple University · Peter Thompson, University of Oxford


Between Sovereignty and Anarchy gives us both a broad intellectual view and several local case studies, with enough stimulating information in both categories to engage anyone interested in the political transformations in the era of the American Revolution.

Gregory Nobles, Georgia Institute of Technology, author, with Alfred F. Young, of Whose American Revolution Was It? Historians Interpret the Founding

The Age of Revolutions was a contest over democracy, liberty, rights, and equality. But it was also terrifying. The Founding Fathers lived in a world of endemic war, civil unrest, refugee diasporas, and imperial conquest. This superb collection of essays insists there was a dark side to the American founding—that violence went hand in hand with the redemptive promise of the republican experiment. It is an essential volume for scholars and citizens to understand the violent founding of the United States.

Robert G. Parkinson, Binghamton University

Taken individually, all of the essays are worth contemplating, and may of them will interest students of Pennsylvania history.

Christopher Bilodeau · The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

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