I began reading Edmund S. Morgan’s The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89, in agitation because I believed that this book was going to be another “History textbook reading.” In my amazement, I found this book quite interesting and have gained much knowledge of the American Revolution after reading through it. This is not the only edition of the book, but rather the fourth and Morgan began publishing these books back in 1956 which is quite unique because you do not find many history books back in that time period¹. The book gives insight on how British taxation on Americans, led them to seek freedom, and revolt against England. Different revolts led to another and the American Revolution began in 1765. The British RedCoats vs the American Patriots. I can most definitely agree with Morgan’s style of literature because he uses straightforward, or simple ways of explaining detailed ideas behind the Revolution. He accomplishes his purpose by seeking ways of explaining things that makes his writing easily coherent.
Edmund S. Morgan was a calm yet distinctly clever man born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on January 17, 1916². He was a stunning student of history whose articles and books recast the greatest themes in American history, from the Puritans to the Revolution³. In 1944 he wrote his first novel, The Puritan Family, in which evolved him to begin writing many other novels of American history?. His persistence and will for writing thrived him to involve all of his readers of the story behind America.
As an author born in the nineteenth century, Morgan used secondary resources to navigate a way for the readers to understand his writing. He primarily focused on Charles Beard, a Columbia University professor who was an influential historical scholar of his time?. Morgan studied his textbooks and his studies of the constitution. Beards style of literature helped Morgan to compensate for his own writing of The Birth of the Republic?. For example, Beards interpretative studies helped Morgan lay out his political matters over his violent war matters?. In the novel, where violence begins in the revolutionary war, Morgan shortens the chapter and points out small details of the battles but does not get to deep into it. He primarily focuses on the constitutional matters of America.
When the novel begins, Morgans introduction sets the scene of the story by explaining how our colonies were very independent and knew that they deserve their rights. ”For eleven years before it Americans had been thinking and talking about their rights” (Morgan 3). Morgan precisely stays away from the fighting matters and constantly reminds us that our ends come from our forefathers. He then goes on to explain the sugar and stamp acts. He explained how conflict began to arise between the colonists and the Parliament. The Parliament taxed the colonists because they believed that they had the right to do so. The colonist were very angry and believed that “Taxation without representation,” was a feat by the parliament. Morgan very well portrayed the main themes of the acts and pointed out key components of each. He swayed away from confusing the readers with useless or too much information at once. Next, Morgan starts to show the events leading up to the revolution like the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea party. He smartly focuses on how British troops shot and killed many colonists on the street of Boston because they felt “Harassed,” and how the sons of liberty protested by throwing large amounts of tea into the Boston Harbour. He then smoothly transfers into the how the Enlightenment began. He greatly pieces together Locke and Paines speeches/writings together in which shows how the colonists began to resist. The way he put together this chapter smoothly begins to show how the Revolution started. Morgan does not go in depth in battles but instead gives insight on the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence, the Olive Branch petition, and the overall struggle in the war for the Continental Army. After the American victory in the war, he then moves on to to show the American challenges in the creation of their own independent nation, the issues that slavery caused in America, and how the Articles of Confederation failed. His explanation of “The Critical Period,” was very in depth and helped readers to understand how even after a happy American victory, colonists still had struggles all around. Finally, he finishes the story of America by going to point with the Constitutional Convention. He focuses on how we tried to ensure that we did not have another Articles of Confederation and had a strong federal government. Morgan was very good at explaining how during all this, there were still issues between the north and the south. He didn’t tie in too much detail but focused on the political debate issues like ratification. He portrays the two different sides in politics, the Federalist and the Anti-federalist. His details helped to understand how the Anti-federalist wanted a Bill of Rights and the Federalist wanted a strong central government. He carries his theme well throughout the story that differences will most likely end in greatness, just like our Constitution did.
All in all, I enjoyed this reading very much and would recommend this to anyone interested in the story behind America. The author is straightforward and will not leave you confused after reading a few pages. His control over the book is magnificent and it helps that he knows how to sort things appropriately throughout the book. He sticks with the important topics and sways away from anything non-important in our history. He keeps the message that we are still defining our constitution until this day forward. Morgan is down to earth and helps any reader know that they are reading something that was worked on very passionately. He portrays our forefathers very well and let’s history never forget about them. This is not your “Average textbook reading,” this is the art of the story behind our united country, America!
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