The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution

The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution

by Robert G. Parkinson

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When the Revolutionary War began, the odds of a united, continental effort to resist the British seemed nearly impossible. Few on either side of the Atlantic expected thirteen colonies to stick together in a war against their cultural cousins. In this pathbreaking book, Robert Parkinson argues that to unify the patriot side, political and communications leaders linked British tyranny to colonial prejudices, stereotypes, and fears about insurrectionary slaves and violent Indians. Manipulating newspaper networks, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and their fellow agitators broadcast stories of British agents inciting African Americans and Indians to take up arms against the American rebellion. Using rhetoric like "domestic insurrectionists" and "merciless savages," the founding fathers rallied the people around a common enemy and made racial prejudice a cornerstone of the new Republic.

In a fresh reading of the founding moment, Parkinson demonstrates the dual projection of the "common cause." Patriots through both an ideological appeal to popular rights and a wartime movement against a host of British-recruited slaves and Indians forged a racialized, exclusionary model of American citizenship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469626925
Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/18/2016
Series: Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 768
Sales rank: 1,173,118
File size: 11 MB
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About the Author

Robert G. Parkinson is associate professor of history at Binghamton University.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

The field of the American Revolution has not seen many game-changing books in the twenty-first century, but this is one. Political history meets military history meets cultural history here in an argument about both the nature of the Revolutionary War and the emerging U.S. political culture. The narrative integrates white fears of native Americans and African Americans into the story, explaining what happened between 1775 and 1783 with tremendous implications for the future of the nation.—David Waldstreicher, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

In a brilliant reexamination of the American Revolution, Robert Parkinson shows how American patriots deployed newspapers to unite the colonies in common cause against the British. Through these 'founding stories,' white Americans marginalized, demonized, and excluded enslaved people and native Americans, shaping the Revolutionary narrative down to the present day.—Rosemarie Zagarri, George Mason University

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