HST 141 Dr. Kerns
The Unfinished Nation: Chapter 5 The American Revolution
Chapter 5 Main Themes
A thorough study of Chapter 5 should enable the student to understand:
Confederation A group of sovereign states that unite for specific purposes (defense, foreign policy, trade, and so on), yet otherwise act as independent bodies.
Consensus School Disagreeing with the emphasis (and, in
some cases, with the evidence) produced by the progressives, the consensus
school argued that what had really shaped America was not the social, economic,
and political conflicts on which the progressives dwelled, but the remarkable
degree of agreement that had existed. Had it not been for this consensus on
such issues as representative government, popular participation, economic
opportunity, and social mobility, the Revolution could not have succeeded. It
was to preserve the liberties gained during salutary neglect, liberties threatened
Constitution The fundamental laws and principles by
which an organization (nation, state, and such) is governed. In
Convention A special assembly of
the people, inaugurated in
Depression The reverse of inflation, caused by a reduction of the money supply that retards economic activity, drives prices down, and results in business failures and unemployment.
Hessians German mercenaries hired by the British to fight in the Revolutionary War.
Inflation The economic condition caused by an oversupply of money (generally paper) in a market undersupplied with goods to buy. The result is high prices and a corresponding reduction in the value (buying power) of money. If the inflation is prolonged, a serious disruption of the economy might occur.
Nationalists This group, writing mainly in the nineteenth century, was greatly influenced by the spirit of nationalism (a strong belief in, and devotion to, the nation; a willingness to put national interests first; a glorification of the national character) that prevailed at that time. To them, the Revolution had been a struggle of an oppressed people against a tyrannical king determined to subject them to his will. Seen in heroic terms, patriot leaders were pictured as champions of liberty who had brought the nation through the Revolution and the "critical period" that followed and who had given us the most perfect blueprint for government yet devised--the Constitution.
New Left Or Neoprogressives At
present, no single school of interpretation has taken hold. Instead, historians
seem to be combining elements of past interpretations in an effort to find a
more satisfactory view of the past. Influenced by the disruptions of the 1960s,
a group of scholars, designated the New Left, has sought and found evidence of
deep social and economic divisions that were overlooked in previous works. Joining
the New Left in its search, but less radical in its interpretation of the
evidence, is a group whose emphasis seems to hark back to the days of the
progressives. However, armed with new means of analysis (especially computers),
these historians have been able to digest more complex data on economic growth
and sociopolitical patterns than have their namesakes. What has begun to emerge
is something of a meeting of the consensus and progressive schools, which, by
using a variety of research techniques, may give us a clearer understanding of
the forces that shaped early
Historians This group added to the
imperial school's interpretation by focusing on the struggles for power among
the colonists themselves, struggles that had made use of the tensions aroused
Rebellion The rising against a power or government; organized resistance.
Revolution A successful rebellion, in which one form of government or one ruling group is replaced by another.
Speculation The practice, especially prevalent in western land dealings, in which an individual or a company (the speculator) purchased large blocks of land at a low price per acre (often on credit), divided the land into small units, and resold the property at a higher price per acre. This made many speculators rich, but the land did go to the farmers who could not have afforded large purchases.