The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution

Robert G. Parkinson. Univ. of North Carolina, $45 (768p) ISBN 978-1-4696-2663-5
In this extensively researched study, Parkinson, assistant professor of history at Binghamton University, explores the roles played by concepts of inclusion and exclusion among the supporters of the patriot cause in the American Revolution. Drawing primarily upon an immense array of colonial American newspapers, Parkinson emphasizes the methods by which leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, James Otis, and both John and Samuel Adams mobilized the printed word in countering the “catalog of forces acting against American unity.” To undercut the divisiveness of issues such as voting rights, land distribution, religious heterodoxy, and slaveholding, these revolutionaries focused their readers’ hostility against both their British rulers and perceived enemies within their own communities. Their literature increasingly centered on the supposed dangers presented by Native Americans and slaves—groups that the British urged to revolt against local authorities. The book is academically focused, offering a detailed and insightful analysis of how newspapers became loci of communication and shapers of individuals’ and communities’ senses of themselves as political actors. Moreover, Parkinson persuasively explains the intensely racialized nature of citizenship in the newly independent U.S. and the long-standing problems posed by the exclusion of Americans of indigenous or African heritage from the “common cause” of the Revolution. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 768 pages - 978-1-4696-5218-4
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