These Daring Disturbers of the Public Peace: The Struggle for Property and Power in Early New Jersey / Edition 1

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During the century preceding the American Revolution, bitter conflicts raged in New Jersey over control of the land tenure system. This book examines how the struggle between yeoman farmers and landed gentry shaped public life in the colony. At once a cultural, political, and social history, it carefully delineates the beliefs of rioters and upholders of order, both of whom wanted control over the land.

Brendan McConville describes how changes in provincial society—affecting politics and government, religious life, economic conditions, gender relations, and ethnic composition—led farmers to resort to violence as a means of settling property disputes. He examines the disagreements in light of competing conceptions of property held by separate landowning classes, differences in the legal and political traditions of British and Dutch colonists, and local conditions unique to New Jersey. He also considers the ways in which the lack of a shared perception of deference to authority among Puritan, Dutch, and multi-ethnic communities helped foster insurrection.

According to McConville, the social transformations brought into sharp focus by the agrarian unrest ultimately undermined imperial control and encouraged the creation of a new American identity. His book is a careful account of a colony that has seldom been seriously examined by colonial historians and a challenge to those scholars to rethink commonly accepted arguments about the development of the United States.

Winner of the Driscoll Prize from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Clearly written, subtly argued, and deeply researched, this book is a model study of a rural people and their agrarian resistance."—Alan Taylor

"A superb piece of scholarship."—Alfred F. Young, author of The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763-1797

From the Publisher

"Clearly written, subtly argued, and deeply researched, this book is a model study of a rural people and their agrarian resistance."—Alan Taylor

"A superb piece of scholarship."—Alfred F. Young, author of The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763-1797

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812218596
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Brendan McConville is Associate Professor of History at Binghamton University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
A Note on Terms
Introduction: These Daring Disturbers of the Public Peace 1
Pt. 1 Origins
1 Violent Origins 11
2 The Enlightenment's First Offensive: The Eighteenth-Century Proprietors and the Intellectual Origins of Their Land Claims 28
3 Communities and Cultures: A Portrait 47
4 The Faith of the People 67
5 Snakes and Ladders: The Competition for New Jersey's Resources 90
Pt. 2 Conflict
6 A Cage without Bars: Anglicization and the Breakdown of Order, 1730-1745 107
7 The People against the Government 137
8 The Problem with Property 164
9 Deference and Defiance: A Tale of Two Men 177
10 The Problems of Social Healing 202
Pt. 3 To the Revolution
11 Refinement and Resentment: The Transformations of the 1760s 223
12 "These Audacious Insults to Government": From Rioters to Revolutionaries 238
Notes 257
Essay on Manuscript Sources 307
Index 311
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