The King's Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776 / Edition 1

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Reinterpreting the first century of American history, Brendan McConville argues that colonial society developed a political culture marked by strong attachment to Great Britain's monarchs. This intense allegiance continued almost until the moment of independence, an event defined by an emotional break with the king. By reading American history forward from the seventeenth century rather than backward from the Revolution, McConville shows that political conflicts long assumed to foreshadow the events of 1776 were in fact fought out by factions who invoked competing visions of the king and appropriated royal rites rather than used abstract republican rights or pro-democratic proclamations. The American Revolution, McConville contends, emerged out of the fissure caused by the unstable mix of affective attachments to the king and a weak imperial government. Sure to provoke debate, The King's Three Faces offers a powerful counterthesis to dominant American historiography.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Inspires a string of adjectives: provocative, original, clever, iconoclastic, and querulous."
American Historical Review

"A worthwhile book for anyone with a solid interest in the early US. . . . Highly recommended."

"Expands commonplace observations about the political tactics of resistance and revolution into a revisionist view of eighteenth-century American development. . . . An interesting book."
International History Review

"In elucidating the origins of 'the empire's cult of Monarchy,' McConville is at his boldest and most innovative. . . . This innovative and thought-provoking book should be required reading for all those with an interest in the British Atlantic world. It will surely be central to any future discussions of early American politics, religion, popular culture, and the coming of the Revolution."
Pennsylvania Magazine of History

"Creative and erudite. . . . Its new perspectives makes it all the more stimulating for historians of early America and beyond."
William and Mary Quarterly

"Salient and compelling. . . . An important contribution to the field of colonial American history."
New England Quarterly

"This well-researched and scrupulously detailed work."
--Library Journal

"Here is a work so controversial that some will barely be able to sit still as they turn the pages."
--Rhys Isaac, Emeritus, LaTrobe University, and College of William and Mary

Library Journal
This latest book by McConville (history, Boston Univ.; These Daring Disturbers of the Public Peace: The Struggle for Property and Power in Early New Jersey) examines American Colonists' varied attitudes toward the British monarchy in the volatile years leading up to the American Revolution. He contends that the Colonists had a stronger allegiance to the monarchy than many historians have believed. This powerful but slowly disintegrating bond, he writes, was political, religious, and emotional. McConville thoroughly explains that it was the British rulers' failure to establish a strong imperial government in the New World that prompted the Colonists to revolt and establish a sovereign nation. He thus places the focus on religious, political, and social instability in England rather than on the American Colonists' determination and achievement. McConville uses a copious number of primary sources, including diaries and newspapers, to support his radical and provocative arguments. Heavy on political theory, this well-researched and scrupulously detailed work may be occasionally difficult for nonscholars to digest. However, it is an insightful and provocative read, challenging our attitudes and assumptions about the mind-set of American Colonists. Recommended for large academic libraries. Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Brendan McConville is professor of history at Boston University and author of These Daring Disturbers of the Public Peace: The Struggle for Property and Power in Early New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : princes and popes in the American provinces 1
Pt. 1 The British peace
Ch. 1 Tyranny's kiss 15
Ch. 2 The march of empire 49
Ch. 3 Remembrance of kings past 83
Ch. 4 The passions of empire 105
Pt. 2 Three faces
Ch. 5 The problems with patriarchy 145
Ch. 6 In the name of the father 170
Ch. 7 Neoabsolutism 192
Ch. 8 Dreams of a new empire 220
Pt. 3 A funeral fit for a king
Ch. 9 History fulfilled, history betrayed 249
Ch. 10 A funeral fit for a king 281
Epilogue : of princes and the people 313
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