The American Revolution: Inside the Minds of The Founding Fathers

Louis Masur
Louis Masur
Rutgers University

Louis Masur is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. A cultural historian who has written on a variety of topics, his most recent work is The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America (2020). A specialist on Lincoln and the Civil War, he is the author of Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction & The Crisis of Reunion (2015), Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union (2012), and The Civil War: A Concise History (2011). Masur’s essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington PostSlate, and on CNN. He has been elected to membership of the American Antiquarian Society, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and the Society of American Historians and has received teaching awards from Harvard University, the City College of New York, Trinity College and Rutgers University. His website is www.louismasur.com.

 

Overview

Long after the Revolutionary era, John Adams asked “what do we mean by the American Revolution?” He said “the Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people,” that the real Revolution was a radical change in thinking—“the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people.”

Focusing on the ideas of such leaders as Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Washington, we shall examine that revolution in the principles and conflicts that characterized the revolutionary era of 1770-1800. Adams believed that through a common set of beliefs “thirteen clocks were made to strike together,” but by 1800 that unity of purpose had unraveled into violent political debate that threatened the survival of the nation. “Whether you or I were right, posterity must judge,” Adams wrote to Jefferson. We are that posterity.

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