A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution

A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution

by Theodore Draper
     
 

Theodore Draper's new book is an acute dissection of the process that led to the final break with England and to the armed revolt in 1775. It is an interpretation that differs from others which have given most prominence to ideological factors as the root cause of the rebellion. Draper's treatment gives as much importance to the British as to the American side of the… See more details below

Overview

Theodore Draper's new book is an acute dissection of the process that led to the final break with England and to the armed revolt in 1775. It is an interpretation that differs from others which have given most prominence to ideological factors as the root cause of the rebellion. Draper's treatment gives as much importance to the British as to the American side of the struggle. He shows how early in the colonial story British thinkers began to worry about the inevitability of an American breakaway. Draper lucidly examines the logic of dissolution, and the manifold ways in which the rapidly increasing colonial population and commerce propelled an unfolding revolutionary process. Ideological arguments, he contends, provided a means, not an end, to the revolutionary struggle. Before the outbreak of the rebellion, American leaders foresaw that the colonies were bound to become "a mighty empire" or "a rising Empire." They were determined that Americans, not the British, should control this future. But they aimed at little more than a change in the power relationship and left political, economic, and social changes for later. A Struggle for Power offers a lively and compelling account of not one but of two highly complex conflicts - of the British against the French, and of the Americans against the British. A Struggle for Power seeks to answer the question of how and why, in the space of little more than a decade after the Stamp Act of 1765, the people in the New World transformed themselves from proud British colonists into self-conscious Americans intent on establishing an independent republic.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Draper's elegantly written, masterful study overturns many preconceptions about the causes of the American Revolution. Before 1763, he observes, the status quo worked largely in favor of the 13 colonies. The Americans dominated the governors sent to rule over them. British customs agents winked at New England smugglers' flourishing trade, and farmers and merchants prospered. But in 1764-1765, the British imposed unpopular taxes and trade restrictions that, combined with Mother England's attempt to reduce the power of the colonial assemblies, brought separatist fervor to the boiling point. To justify the ensuing power struggle, America's ruling elite developed a revolutionary ideology, couching their self-interest in terms of liberty and inalienable rights. Distinguished historian Draper (A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affair) further argues that the British, having allowed themselves to become economically dependent on the colonies, desperately sought to control colonial trade and manufacture. Drawing freely on period pamphlets, letters, petitions, travelogues and assembly minutes, he vividly evokes the populist discontent, intellectual gymnastics and mob violence that led to revolution. (Feb.)
Library Journal
The American Revolution is commonly believed to have been caused by the colonists' desire for independence and liberty. Draper (A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affair, LJ 6/1/91) maintains that the Revolution was really a power struggle spawned by the British system of chartering colonies, which placed fiscal control of public funds with the colonial assemblies. British dependence on American trade and the Colonies' phenomenal population growth only intensified Americans' desire to control their own destiny. Draper quotes heavily from primary sources and sometimes relies totally on colonial writers to make his point without further explanation; this is unfortunate because his style is fairly readable. In the preface, the author notes his intended audience is not the specialist but the interested general reader. However, his revisionist history won't appeal to the public and belongs in academic libraries only.-Grant Alan Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora
From the Publisher
"Should be read by every citizen. A work of prodigious research...and penetrating analysis."—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812925753
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/17/1995
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
608
Product dimensions:
6.64(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.40(d)

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