A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism

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In the early days of the American Republic, this country was still trying to define itself and how it would react to crisis. In this new book, Carol Berkin looks at four crises and how the administrations of Washington and Adams responded and how it helped forge an identity of what America is. Professor Berkin takes an in-depth look at the Whisky Rebellion, the Genet Affair, the XYZ Affair, and the Alien and Sedition Acts. In each section, she examines the causes of the conflict, how various parties wanted to respond, whether they were Federalist or Republican, and how the government moved forward. Finally, she gives an overview of how the crisis further defined what this government would be and how it would last.

Professor Berkin does a good job without getting bogged down in details, though personally it feels like Alexander Hamilton has an outsized role in the first two affairs, but he is popular right now. It gives a sense of early American history that often gets lost with the pride of place given to the writing of the Constitution. While most books would have focused on one or two of these issues, Professor Berkin helps shed light on four major issues.


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Author Carol Berkin
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher Basic Books
Publish Date 2017-May-02
ISBN 9780465060887
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue May 2017
Category History
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