Revolutionary Prophecies: The Founders and America's Future

Revolutionary Prophecies: The Founders and America's Future

Revolutionary Prophecies: The Founders and America's Future

Revolutionary Prophecies: The Founders and America's Future


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The America of the early republic was built on an experiment, a hopeful prophecy that would only be fulfilled if an enlightened people could find its way through its past and into a future. Americans recognized that its promises would only be fully redeemed at a future date. In Revolutionary Prophecies, renowned historians Robert M. S. McDonald and Peter S. Onuf summon a diverse cast of characters from the founding generation—all of whom, in different ways, reveal how their understanding of the past and present shaped hopes, ambitions, and anxieties for or about the future.

The essays in this wide-ranging volume explore the historical consciousness of Americans caught up in the Revolution and its aftermath. By focusing on how various individuals and groups envisioned their future, the contributors show that revolutionary Americans knew they were making choices that would redirect the "course of human events." Looking at prominent leaders such as Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, and Monroe, as well as more common people, from backcountry rebels and American Indians to printer Isaiah Thomas, the authors illuminate the range and complexity of the ways in which men and women of the founding generation imagined their future—and made our history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813944494
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Publication date: 02/05/2021
Series: Jeffersonian America
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert M. S. McDonald is Professor of History at the United States Military Academy and, most recently, editor of Thomas Jefferson’s Lives: Biographers and the Battle for History (Virginia). Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia, is coeditor of The Founding of Thomas Jefferson’s University (Virginia), among other works.

Table of Contents

1. Raconteur, Memorialist, Founder: Benjamin Franklin Meets Himself in History
2. Yankee Continentalism: The Provincial Roots of John Adams's Vision for American Union, 1755-1776
3. George Washington’s Vision for the United States
4. Agrarian Founders: Three "Rebellions" as Legitimate Opposition, 1786–1799
5. The Sovereign People: Indians, Treaties, and the Subversion of the Founders’ Colonialist Vision
6. "Arraying Him against Himself": The Jefferson Presidency and the American Future through the Eyes of Alexander Hamilton
7. James Madison and American Nationality: The View from Virginia
8. Mastery over Slaves, Sovereignty over Slavery: James Monroe, Virginia, and the Missouri Crisis
9. Antiquarian America: Isaiah Thomas and the New Nation’s Future
Afterword: The Contradictions and Paradoxes of American Future-Gazing
Notes on Contributors

What People are Saying About This

Barbara Oberg

Thomas Jefferson’s revolutionary prophecy, described in his iconic letter marking the 50th anniversary of July 4, envisioned a glorious future for America. The young nation had the "power to begin the world" again. In the shadows of his optimism were conflicting narratives and prophecies of doom. These were stories of the Whiskey Rebellion, enslaved African Americans, and dispossessed Native Americans. McDonald and Onuf skillfully weave these conflicting narratives into one that is a new and important contribution to our understanding of the American Revolution and the years that followed.

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