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Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford History of the United States) Paperback – 24 Nov 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; Reprint edition (24 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199832463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199832460
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 5.8 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 317,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Wood's study is fluently written and ingeniously structured ... Empire of Liberty is a highly readable and knowledgeable introduction to the Early Republic, one that can be recommended to both academics and students as well as to general readers. Michael Butter, ZAA 60.4: A Quarterly of Language, Literature and Culture

About the Author


Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. His books include the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Radicalism of the American Revolution, the Bancroft Prize-winning The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin, and The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. He writes frequently for The New York Review of Books and The New Republic.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Jan 2010
Format: Hardcover
Gordon S. Wood examines a period of U.S. history about which I knew very little before reading this book. That is, from the signing of the Constitution in 1788 until the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1815 that finally ended the War of 1812. It is one of the volumes within "The Oxford History of the United States" series for which another distinguished historian, David M. Kennedy, serves as General Editor. As Wood explains in the Introduction, "By 1815, Americans had experienced a transformation in the way they related to each other and in the way they perceived themselves and the world around them. And this transformation took place before industrialization, before urbanization, before railroads, and before any of the technological breakthroughs usually associated with modern social change. In the decades following the revolution America changed so much and so rapidly that Americans not only became used to change but came to expect and prize it."

Thus does Wood prepare his reader for a rigorous and comprehensive examination of what was indeed a multi-dimensional "transformation" during which thirteen "separate republics" eventually became "the United States of America," with its people appropriating the name that belonged to all the peoples of the New World - "even though the term `Americans' actually had begun as a pejorative label the metropolitan English had applied to their inferior and far-removed colonists." Throughout the lively and eloquent narrative that follows, Wood explains who and what played major roles in that process from a "monarchical republic" struggling for survival to what had become, "in the minds of its citizens, a nation to be reckoned with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover
At the outset of his history of the United States between 1789 - 1815, Professor Gordon Wood aptly describes his subject as "Rip Van Winkle's America". Van Winkle, of course, was the subject of a story by Washington Irving. Rip goes to sleep in his small village prior to the American Revolution and wakes up 20 years later to find a vastly changed United States, larger in size, disputatious, commercial, and substantially more democratic than had been the case when Rip began his long nap.

Rip's story captures the development of the United States as Wood portrays it. Beginning with the adoption of the Constitution, which was designed to cure the excesses of individualism and local government under the Articles of the Confederation, Wood sets a theme of the increasing democratization of the United States, as political parties come to play a central role in American life and Thomas Jefferson is elected president in 1800 on a platform of equality (for white males, in any event) and of a limited role for the central government. What Wood describes as the "middling" class as opposed to the budding aristocracy of Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and some of the other Founders, comes to set the dominant tone of American life.

Besides his use of the story of Rip Van Winkle, Wood sets the tone of his book with its title, "Empire of Liberty." Wood uses this term in a chapter titled "The Jeffersonian West" which describes the great expansion of the United States achieved by the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson himself used the term "Empire of Liberty" to describe his vision for the United States. As Wood explains the term: "`Empire" for [Jefferson] did not mean the coercive domination of alien peoples; instead, it meant a nation of citizens spread over vast tracts of land.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The evolution of American democracy in the post-revolution realm is a very fascinating study. Gordon Wood draws the reader into the story of how the United States went from being nothing more than a rebellious former colony of Great Britain to that of a nation in its own right, ready to compete with the Old World monarchies in the big wide world. The Early Republic of 1789 to 1815 defined, dictated and cajoled the United States into the nation it is today; for better or worse.

Independence from Great Britain brought freedom to the colonies... but it was also to bring many new obstacles and conflicts for the emerging states and national government. Indeed, the nation was to change in less than three decades to one with little resemblance to what it was in 1789

Initially a loose confederation of thirteen like minded states, the development and agreement of a Constitution in 1789 allowed for the setting up of a national government. Subsequent actions by men such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and others led the creation of the 'Federalists'; leaders determined to organise the states in a more structured and powerful nation. However, they were to meet opposition from those who feared a strong centralised authority, something they'd fought the British to eradicate. Men such as James Madison, James Monroe and the most famous of them all; Thomas Jefferson, favoured a limited central government with more rights for the state authorities. The setting up of a tax system, an army, navy, militia forces and even a diplomatic service were considered by Federalists to be essential for the survival of the revolution, but examples of intrusive and freedom restricting government by the Republicans.
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