By David Hackett Fischer
This attention-grabbing e-book is the 1st quantity in a projected cultural background of the USA, from the earliest English settlements to our personal time. it's a historical past of yank folkways as they've got replaced via time, and it argues a thesis concerning the value for the U.S. of getting been British in its cultural origins.
whereas most folks within the usa at the present time haven't any British ancestors, they've got assimilated neighborhood cultures that have been created by means of British colonists, even whereas conserving ethnic identities whilst. during this feel, approximately all americans are "Albion's Seed," it doesn't matter what their ethnicity might be. The concluding component to this awesome ebook explores the ways in which neighborhood cultures have persisted to dominate nationwide politics from 1789 to 1988, and nonetheless aid to form attitudes towards schooling, executive, gender, and violence, on which ameliorations among American areas are more than among eu international locations.
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Extra resources for Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: A Cultural History)
38 Not only, then, did nothing in the Americans’ economic and social structure really determine 4 2 | Th e I d e a o f A m e r i c a their behavior, but the colonists in fact acted from the most rational and calculated of motives: they fought, as they said they would, simply to defend their ancient liberties against British provocation. By implying that certain declared rational purposes are by themselves an adequate explanation for the Americans’ revolt—in other words, that the Revolution was really nothing more than a contest over constitutional principles—the neo-Whig historians have not only threatened to deny what we have learned of human psychology in the twentieth century, but they have also in fact failed to exploit fully the terms of their own idealist approach by not taking into account all of what the Americans believed and said.
It is this interaction and these results that recent historians are referring to when they speak so disparag ingly of those “underlying determinants” and “impersonal and inexorable forces” bringing on the Revolution. Historical explanation which does not account for these “forces,” which, in other words, relies simply on under standing the conscious intentions of the actors, will thus be limited. This preoccupation with men’s purposes was what restricted the perspectives of the contemporaneous Whig and Tory interpretations, and it is still the weakness of the neo-Whig histories, and indeed of any interpretation which attempts to explain the events of the Revolution by discovering the calculations from which individuals supposed themselves to have acted.
By supposing “that individual actions and immediate issues are more impor tant than underlying determinants in explaining particular events,” by emphasizing conscious and articulated motives, the neo-Whig histo rians have selected and presented that evidence which is most directly and clearly expressive of the intentions of the Whigs—that is, the most well-deﬁned, the most constitutional, the most reasonable of the Whig beliefs, those found in their public documents, their several declarations of grievances and causes.