American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America

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American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America

Format:  Hardcover,

278 pages

Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc

Publish Date: May 2009

ISBN-13: 9780393070101

ISBN-10: 0393070107

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The following content was provided by the publisher.
The last two decades have witnessed an explosion of interest in the founding fathers so intense that a reader or television viewer of today might imagine that America was the creation of beings who were flawless in their wisdom and courage. As Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edmund S. Morgan shows here, Americans have long been obsessed with their heroes. But, drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, he presents a different cast of characters among them Indians, witches, heretics, and naysayers men and women who went against the grain, in addition to the stock figures of our national hagiography. Morgan has mined the seventeenth century and has identified several new heroes, among them Giles Cory and Mary Easty, accused witches, who were put to death when Puritanism went wrong at Salem in 1692. Pressured to reprieve herself by admitting her guilt and naming friends and neighbors as confederates in witchcraft, Easty declared, I dare not belie my own soul. Her humble statement stands as the ultimate expression of the religious principles that led to the founding of New England, principles temporarily abandoned by the rulers of Massachusetts Bay who tried and sentenced her. While American Heroes celebrates the lives and principles of ordinary Americans, the book also considers the legacy of some of our most prominent colonial and Revolutionary leaders, among them William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington. Franklin and Washington are best known for standing against the repressive and often brutal regime of Great Britain s colonial policies, but here Morgan makes the case for their heroism in standing up to their own countrymen. When Americans were demanding precipitate action, Washington and Franklin got the nation off to a good start by knowing when to say no. Whether presenting the scandalous story of a Puritan husband whose on-and-off marriage to a beleaguered Puritan heiress illustrates the nexus between property and sex, or assessing the power of books to subvert the standing order and alter the course of history, American Heroes rises above hagiography in challenging the reader to conceive of American individuality and idealism in new terms. Morgan, who credits his mentor Perry Miller with the best historical mind of his generation, has shown throughout his own career an unrivaled originality and intellectual courage. American Heroes demonstrates Morgan s fascination with our national identity and his abiding affection for the men and women whose character, honesty, and moral courage make plain that heroism in America can be found in unexpected places.


Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc
Publish Date: May 2009
ISBN-13: 9780393070101
ISBN-10: 0393070107
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 278
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.3
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.5 x 9.75 x 1.25

About the author

Biography of Morgan, Edmund S.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Edmund Morgan spent most of his youth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was educated at the Belmont Hill School, Harvard, and the London School of Economics. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1942 and three years later began his teaching career at the University of Chicago. From there he moved first to Brown University and then to Yale, where he became Sterling Professor in 1965 and emeritus in 1986. Morgan's historical writings greatly enhance our understanding of such complex aspects of the American experience as Puritanism, the Revolution, and the relationship between slavery and racism.

At the same time, they captivate readers in the classroom and beyond. His work is a felicitous blend of rigorous scholarship, imaginative analysis, and graceful presentation. Although sometimes characterized as the quintessential Whig historian, in reality Morgan transcends simplistic categorization and has done more, perhaps, than any other historian to open new and creative paths of inquiry into the meaning of the early American experience.

Chapter outline

The Conquerors
The Conquerors
Puritans, Witches, and Quakers
Dangerous Books
The Unyielding Indian
John Winthrop's Vision
The Puritans and Sex
The Problems of a Puritan Heiress
The Case against Anne Hutchinson
The Puritan's Puritan: Michael Wigglesworth
The Courage of Giles Cory and Mary Easty
Postscript: Philadelphia 1787
The Contentious Quaker: William Penn
Ezra Stiles and Timothy Dwight
Revolutionary Leaders
The Power of Negative Thinking: Benjamin Franklin and George Washington
The End of Franklin's Pragmatism
The Founding Fathers' Problem: Representation
The Role of the Antifederalists
Epilogue The Genius of Perry Miller

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