The Intellectual Construction of America: Exceptionalism and Identity From 1492 to 1800 [NOOK Book]

Overview

Jack Greene explores the changing definitions of America from the time of Europe's first contact with the New World through the establishment of the American republic. Challenging historians who have argued that colonial American societies differed little from those of early modern Europe, he shows that virtually all contemporary observers emphasized the distinctiveness of the new worlds being created in America. Rarely considering the high costs paid by Amerindians and Africans in the construction of those ...
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The Intellectual Construction of America: Exceptionalism and Identity From 1492 to 1800

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Overview

Jack Greene explores the changing definitions of America from the time of Europe's first contact with the New World through the establishment of the American republic. Challenging historians who have argued that colonial American societies differed little from those of early modern Europe, he shows that virtually all contemporary observers emphasized the distinctiveness of the new worlds being created in America. Rarely considering the high costs paid by Amerindians and Africans in the construction of those worlds, they cited the British North American colonies as evidence that America was for free people a place of exceptional opportunities for individual betterment and was therefore fundamentally different from the Old World. Greene suggests that this concept of American societies as exceptional was a central component in their emerging identity. The success of the American Revolution helped subordinate Americans' long-standing sense of cultural inferiority to a more positive sense of collective self that sharpened and intensified the concept of American exceptionalism.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Though historians argue that the colonial settlements in North America differed little from those of contemporary Europeans, says Greene (humanities, Johns Hopkins U.), the settlers themselves consistently emphasized the distinctiveness of America. Their view of the new land was generally affirmative, but they felt culturally inferior to Europe. He also shows how this attitude required dehumanizing both native Americans and Africans. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
[An] exceptional book.

Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism

This book will compel scholars to rethink the issue of exceptionalism and likely will give the idea new life.

Richard L. Bushman, Columbia University

[Reminds] us of the ways in which contemporaries identified America as an exceptional place promising opportunity unattainable [in Europe].

Journal of Southern History

This beautifully produced volume is topical, readable and provocative.

American Studies

This is a beautifully presented work, with well-chosen illustrations that are contemporary to the points being made in the text.

Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807861776
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/1993
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 228
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

Jack P. Greene is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at The Johns Hopkins University. He is author of several books, including Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Pt. 1 Changing Historical Perspectives 1
1 The "New" History 3
2 Perspectives on American History 6
3 Beyond Power: Paradigm Subversion and Reformulation and the Re-Creation of the Early Modern Atlantic World 17
Pt. 2 Colonial British America 43
4 The Colonial Era: An Interview 45
5 Changing Interpretations of Early American Politics 79
6 The American Colonies during the First Half of the Eighteenth Century 113
7 The Development of Early American Culture 120
8 Autonomy and Stability: New England and the British Colonial Experience in Early Modern America 126
9 Society and Economy in the British Caribbean during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries 156
10 Coming to Terms with Diversity: Pluralism and Conflict in the Formation of Colonial New York 180
11 Chesapeake Transformations: The Traditionalizing of an English New World Society 200
12 The Southern Colonial Mind and American Culture 214
13 Reconstructing British-American Colonial History 221
14 Colonial New England in Recent Historiography 240
15 Reading Pursuits of Happiness: A Primer 281
16 Interpretive Frameworks: The Quest for Intellectual Order in Early American History 289
Pt. 3 The American Revolution 309
17 The Flight from Determinism: A Review of Recent Literature on the Coming of the American Revolution 311
18 The Plunge of Lemmings: A Consideration of Recent Writings on British Politics and the American Revolution 334
19 The Reappraisal of the American Revolution in Recent Historical Literature 367
20 Beyond the Neo-Whig Paradigm: Trends in the Historiography of the American Revolution, 1968-76 441
21 Jeffersonian Republicans and the "Modernization" of American Political Consciousness 460
22 From the Perspective of Law: Context and Legitimacy in the Origins of the American Revolution 467
23 The American Revolution Revisited 493
Index 511
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