The Clare Spark Blog

February 24, 2020

The American Revolution as told by two historians

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:40 pm

I doubt that many young (or older) people appreciate the gravity of our country’s founding, for it was an  innovation in many respects: for instance in the Constitution, but especially in the freedom of religion,  popular sovereignty, and free speech. This blog mentions two leftish books, one by John C. Miller, The American Revolution (1943) and the other by Gary B. Nash, The Urban Crucible (1979).  Nash is one of two formulators of the US History Standards, is a noted professor of History at UCLA,  and a specialist in the colonial period. (I studied with Nash in graduate school.)

I start with Professor Nash, who obviously was much affected by the 1960s New Left, with its emphasis on race, class and gender. Nash chose to emphasize class conflict and the focus on the class unrest in the northern cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. One would think that the working class was largely responsible for the Revolution and that the w-c  (the working class is abbreviated as “w-c” here and below) played a large part. Moreover, Nash’s History Standards did not share the same emphasis on the w-c but, rather, eliminated it. The US History Standards expected grade and high school students to master details that left out the w-c bias of his earlier work.. Is Nash a moderate, yet expecting much more of his projected grade and high school history students than even the graduate work that I accomplished at UCLA, or that media treatments of the appalling ignorance of young persons would expect?

By contrast, Miller, also a left-liberal (who else gets published these days?)Miller probably wrote his seemingly exhaustive study during the Red Decade, but looked at mostly the rising middle-class and upper classes. Miller, unlike Nash, treated the South, especially the upper-class planters. Miller also devoted much space to  the English side.  Miller was more favorable to Puritanism and to trade in general. In his  version of the Revolution, Tories in England and America played a bigger part, although he obviously was a student of the American Revolution in most of its facets.

I apologize for this blog, for it possibly features my own preoccupations, being a maven for the amazing and startling American Revolution, its dynamics,  a quality education and, above all, freedom of speech and expression (crucial items that seem to be disappearing from our public life). 

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