Cities in the American Revolution
University Press 2007
When I was in college about a million years ago, we used to sit in bars and talk about the Revolution. Actually, it was this bar and something like this “Revolution.” Clearly nothing ever came of our planning (or drinking). But it wasn’t always so, as you can learn in Benjamin Carp’s remarkable Rebels Rising: Cities in the American Revolution (Oxford UP, 2007; 2009 pbk). When the American colonists got together to talk revolution in taverns, they made revolution. And, as Ben points out, drinking establishments weren’t the only revolutionary loci–docks, churches, assembly halls, and ordinary houses also served as locales in which anger against British “tyranny” was stoked and action against the same planned. Ben’s book is really about public spaces and how they aid in the process of “mobilization.” These are the places where “civil society” moves from fuzzy concept to real thing. This was true in the American Revolution in 1775, and it was true in the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989. It was not true in the Grinnell College pub circa 1984. Everyone knows that the real revolutionaries hung out at The Forum (which, I’m sad to report, is no longer “The Forum” but an IT building).
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