Atlantic Revolutions 1763-1826
“A man may perish
by the sword, yet no man draws the sword to perish, but to live by
it.” James Harrington,
A System of Politics
This course provides
an introduction to the momentous social, political, and cultural transformations
that characterized the American, French, Haitian, and Latin American
Revolutions. Straddling the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, these social and political
movements have long been considered (although often loosely or uncritically)
part of an “Age of Revolutions,” a watershed of change that violently
ushered in the problems and possibilities of the modern world. Each of these Revolutions has been widely and critically studied
in the past two centuries and each still serves mythical purposes
in the founding narratives of distinct national histories. But as an epoch in the origins of the modern world and the development
of conceptions of modern democratic politics, these “Atlantic revolutions”
offer much from a comparative study.
Using both primary and secondary texts, the course explores the social
and structural conflicts, ideologies, and political circumstances
that defined the character, causes, limits, and consequences of these
Atlantic revolutions. Topics
to receive specific examination include the importance of nationalism
and universalism to the strategies of revolt and counter-revolution,
the place of race and slavery in international revolution, the movement
of people and ideas across national boundaries, the role of economic
and social conflicts to the progress of revolution, and the significance
of religion and culture to the purpose and course of revolution. In addition the class will engage both classical and modern theories
of revolution to further understand the place of these conflicts in
the history of the Western world.
Participation in Class Discussion. 10%.
Document Collection. 20% Due Date, 10/18
Choose a person or significant event relating to any of the revolutions
discussed in class. Find four
or five primary documents, (i.e. edited letters or journals, pamphlets,
newspaper clipping, etc.) relating to your topic and write a one to
two page summary of their contents.
Review. 20% Due Date, 11/08
Find one book on a theme, person or event relating to any of the topics
discussed in the class, provide a concise two/three page summary of
the arguments of the book.
Final Essay. 50% Due Date, 12/04
A) Review Essay. Expand your
book review with three/four more books on a similar topic. Write a 8-10 page essay analyzing the arguments
of the different books.
OR B) Research
Paper. Expand your document
collection into a research paper. Find more primary sources and make an argument
about your specific historical question in 8-10 pages.
are available at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore.
Overthrow of Colonial Slavery
You can also get them online at Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com
Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution
Lynn Hunt, ed., The French Revolution
and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary
Edward Countryman, The American Revolution
Richard Graham, Independence in Latin America: A Comparative Approach
for consideration and study will be provided.
The web site for the class is still under construction
Week I. The
Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century—Prelude to Revolution
Lecture: The Idea of comparative History. The Idea of the Atlantic World.
Politics, Society, and Economy in the Eighteenth-Century
Lecture: The Ancièn Regime and the Atlantic System in
the Mid-Eighteenth Century
Edward Countryman, The American Revolution, 9-40.
Robin Blackburn, “Introduction: Colonial Slavery in the New World
c. 1770,” in Overthrow of Colonial Slavery,1-31.
Transformation and Reform
Economic, Social, and Demographic Strains Upon Atlantic
and Discussion: Cracking the
Shell, Conflict and Change At the Margins
Jeremy Popkin, A Short History, 1-20.
Richard Graham, Independence in Latin America, 1-36.
Reform and Resistance
Lecture: Dealing with Debt:
Rationalizing the Institutions of the Early Modern State
Graham, Independence in Latin America,
Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution, 21-35.
From Resistance to Revolution
The Immediate Impulses
Lecture and Discussion: Groups
and Causes, The Politics of Resistance
Graham, Independence in Latin America, 61-78.
Edward Countryman, The American Revolution, 41-73.
James Otis, The Rights of British Colonies Asserted and Proved,
From Resistance to Revolution: The American Case
Lecture and Discussion: Shots
Heard Round the World: The
Transformative Events of Revolution
Edward Countryman, The American Revolution, 87-104, 105-137.
Debates in the Continental Congress, Selections
Ideologies of Revolution
v. Monarchy: The Challenge to Hierarchy
Lecture and Discussion: Republicanism
and Liberalism: A Historiographical Debate
Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution, 36-52.
Abbé Sieyès, “What is the Third Estate?” in Hunt, 63-70.
Simón Bolívar, “Reply of a South American to A Gentleman of This Island”
10/18. Nationalism and
Lecture and Discussion: Philosophy
The Declaration of Independence
“Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen,” in Hunt, 71-79
Tom Paine, The Rights of Man, Selections
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, Selections
Week V The Problem
The Assault on Slavery
and Discussion: The Antislavery
Debate: History and Historians
The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 33-66, 267-291.
Hector St. John d'Crevecoeur, Letter IX, Description of Charlestown
The Haitian Case
Lecture and Discussion: War
and the End of Slavery
Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 213-264.
Assorted Documents Pertaining to Abolition, in Hunt, The French
Revolution and Human Rights, 101-116.
Week VI The
Construction of Revolutionary States: The Problem of Citizenship
10/30. Religion, Tolerance,
and the Ideal of Pluralism
and Discussion: Religion and
Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom
Documents relating to Toleration and Citizenship for Protestants and
Jews, in Hunt, The French Revolution and Human Rights, 84-99.
Limits of Revolutionary Citizenship
and Discussion: Race, Gender
and the Limits of Revolution
“Slave and Free Black Petitions for Freedom and Citizenship”
Excerpt from Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
American Revolution, 214-245.
Hunt, The French Revolution and Human Rights, 119-139.
The Construction of Revolutionary States:
The Problem of Union
and Discussion: Conventions,
Constitutions, and the Organization of Power
The Problem of Nationhood:
The Case of Latin America
Edward Countryman, The American Revolution, 175-213.
Jacques Turgot, “On the American Constitutions,” Selections.
John Adams, “Defense of the Constitutions.” Selections.
Simón Bolívar, “Speech before the Congress of Angostura,” Feb. 15,
Lecture and Discussion:
The Idea of Gran Columbia
in Latin America, 79-135.
Agents of Revolution: Generals
Lecture and Discussion: Revolution
and “The Great Man”: Washington,
Napoleon, L’Ouverture, and Bolivar
Gary Wills, Cincinatus: George Washington and the Enlightenment,
(New York, 1984) 3-25, and illustrations.
François Furet, “Napolean Bonaparte,” in Furet and Ozouf, A Critical
Dictionary of the French Revolution, (Cambridge, MA 1989),273-86.
C.L.R. James, “Preface to the First Edition,” and “The Rise of Toussaint,”
The Black Jacobins, ix-xi, 146-162.
The Liberator Simón Bolívar; Man and Image. (New York, 1970),
The French Case
Lecture and Discussion:
Liberty Poles and Songs: Popular Action and Radical Revolutionary
George Rudè, “The
Rioters,” in Kafker and Laux, eds., The French Revolution: Conflicting Interpretations (Malabar, Florida, 4th
ed., 1989) 230-241.
Albert Soboul, “The Sans-Cullotes,” in Kafker and Laux, 242-258.
Richard Cobb, “A Critique,” in Kafker and Laux, 259-269.
Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution, 65-90.
and Lecture: Thinking About
Popkin, A Short
History of the French Revolution, 87-113.
Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 381-413.
Week X Towards
a Theory of the Atlantic Revolutions
Theories of Revolution
Discussion and Lecture: Atlantic
Revolution or Atlantic Revolutions?
Aristotle, The Politics, Selections.
M. Richter, “Tocqueville’s
Contributions to the Theory of Revolution,” in Carl J. Freidrich,
Revolutions (New York, 1966), 175-221.
E. Kamenka, “The
Concept of a Political Revolution,” in Carl J. Frederich, ed., Revolutions
(New York, 1966), 122-138.
Skocpol, “Explaining Revolutions:
In quest of a social-structural approach,” Skocpol, ed., Social
Revolutions in the Modern World, (Cambridge, 1994) 99-116.
*****Final Essay Due