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Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution

Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution

by Michael D. Hattem


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How American colonists reinterpreted their British and colonial histories to help establish political and cultural independence from Britain

"Recounts the fascinating process by which the colonists established a new identity and created a uniquely American history"—Journal of the American Revolution

“A powerful, clearly made argument that scholars on the revolution’s origins will need to reckon with.” —Frank Cogliano, University of Edinburgh

In Past and Prologue, Michael Hattem shows how colonists’ changing understandings of their British and colonial histories shaped the politics of the American Revolution and the origins of American national identity. Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as “American history.” This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens. Rather than liberating Americans from the past—as many historians have argued—the Revolution actually made the past matter more than ever. Past and Prologue shows how the process of reinterpreting the past played a critical role in the founding of the nation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300234961
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 11/24/2020
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 555,959
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

Michael D. Hattem is Associate Director of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. He has taught history at Knox College and Lang College at The New School.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue 1

Part I Colonial History Culture in British America, 1730-1776

Chapter 1 History Culture in Pre-Revolutionary British America 21

Chapter 2 The Colonial Past in the Imperial Crisis 56

Chapter 3 The British Past in the Imperial Crisis 95

Interlude Natural Law, Independence, and Revolutionary History Culture, 1772-1776 127

Part II National History Culture in the Early Republic, 1776-1812

Chapter 4 The Expansion of Early National History Culture 141

Chapter 5 The Colonial Past in the Early Republic 183

Chapter 6 Creating a Deep Past for a New Nation 210

Epilogue 246

Notes 253

Index 301

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