The Long Road to Change: America's Revolution, 1750-1820

The Long Road to Change: America's Revolution, 1750-1820

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By Eric Nellis
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2007
World Rights
336 Pages
ISBN 9781551111100
Published Mar 2007
Online discount: 15%
 $33.95    $28.86

Breaking from traditional historical interpretations of the period, Eric Nellis takes a long view of the origins and consequences of the Revolution and asserts that the Revolution was not, as others have argued, generated by a well-developed desire for independence, but rather by a series of shifts in British imperial policies after 1750.

Nellis argues that the Revolution was still being shaped as late as 1820 and that many racial, territorial, economic, and constitutional issues were submerged in the growth of the republic and the enthusiasm of the population. In addressing the nature of the Revolution, Nellis suggests that the American Revolution and American political systems and principles are unique and much less suited for export than many Americans believe.

Eric Nellis is an Emeritus Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia.

List of Maps and Tables  



I. The Colonial Background to the American Revolution

II. The New British Empire: Reform and Protest, 1763-1774

III. The Continental Congress, War, Common Sense, and the Declaration of Independence, 1774-1776 

IV. The War for Independence

V. The Problems of Independence, 1783-1787

VI. The Constitution, Ratification, and the First Party System

VII. The Politics of the Federalist Era

VIII. Jefferson, Madison, and the Expanding Republic

IX. The War of 1812 and the Sectional Republic

Epilogue: The Generation of 1820

Appendix 1: The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription  

Appendix 2: The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription  

Appendix 3: The Bill of Rights, 1791  

Reference Bibliography


Eric Nellis's book sounds less like an extended piece of writing and more like a brilliant, confident, articulate speaker who engages his audience because his words flow into their thinking. I could almost feel his eye contact. Time and again his account of the Revolution reminded me of the first time I encountered an idea or concept with a freshness that made me sit up, suddenly awake in the presence of an arresting insight. Negotiating conflicting demands for brevity and coverage, Nellis adroitly lavishes attention on some scenes and then moves on.

Robert M. Calhoon, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

In The Long Road to Change, Eric Nellis argues that the American Revolution was not a single event that could be replicated elsewhere in the world, but a prolonged process stretching over seven decades, with the War for Independence (1775-83) as one part of the cycle of change. By extending his analysis to 1820, Nellis challenges both students and scholars to re-examine their assumptions about the American Revolution ending with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, or the writing and ratification of the US Constitution (1787-89), or the contentious presidential election of 1800. In an age when politicians think democratic change can be effected in a few years, if not months, Nellis offers a cautionary reminder that the development of American democracy stretched over 70 years. His provocative book is written in a style that is accessible to first year undergraduates, yet substantive enough for graduate students to ground themselves in the major developments of the era. Professors, meanwhile, will find themselves reaching for a copy to revise their lectures.

Elizabeth Mancke, University of Akron

Eric Nellis's gripping narrative and authoritative analysis provides the best single-volume account of the development of an imperialistically expansive republic from a separatist rebellion in British America. The Long Road to Change is a perfect text for United States surveys and for classes on Early American History, with crucial documents, timelines and bibliographic essays for each chapter, and generous maps and tables. It masterfully synthesizes recent and classic historiography on social, economic, political, military, and constitutional history with new emphases on slavery, First Nations, gender, class, and the West.

John E. Crowley, Dalhousie University