Thursday, August 18, 2011

Real Estate and the American Revolution

A new biography of Ethan Allen shines a light on the role of land speculation in the American Revolution.  Slate's Fran├žois Furstenberg writes:

Just how these contests over land play into the Revolution is one of the most debated questions in American history. In 1909, historian Carl Becker argued that the American Revolution was not so much about home rule as "who should rule at home." The struggle for independence, in other words, centered less on exalted principles than on the quest for political and economic power by provincial elites. Popular among muckraking classes during the age of Robber Barons, this interpretation was hard to reconcile with a patriotic account of the nation's founding and eventually fell out of favor.

Steve Clowney

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