Origins and Ideologies of the American Revolution

Course No. 8520
Professor Peter C. Mancall, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
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Course No. 8520
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Course Overview

The years 1760–1800 rocked the Western world. These were the years when colonists on the eastern fringes of a continent converted Enlightenment thought first into action, then into government. Astonishing the world leaders of the day, they defied and broke away from their mother country, and then fashioned a republic capable of sustaining itself generation after generation.

Why this happened and how the colonists did it is the subject of Professor Peter C. Mancall's 48 lectures. It is a story of immense importance and rich discoveries.

The American Revolution began when British colonists first questioned the intrusions of Great Britain into their economic progress and civil lives. It erupted into armed conflict in 1775, but it did not end with the peace treaty of 1783. The Americans had yet to craft a government that brought into being new ways for citizens to relate to their government and for a government to relate to its nation.

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Presenting this momentous period is Professor Mancall, professor of history and anthropology at the University of Southern California. Throughout this course Professor Mancall does far more than recount events. He illuminates the words of the very people who struggled with the crosscurrents of those times. Professor Mancall brings to life both the famous and little-remembered colonists who were caught up in the debates over rights and power, liberties and empire. Because he presents original source materials as well as how events were reported and interpreted, we more readily understand the evolution of ideas, the competing pressures, and the misunderstandings.

Professor Mancall lays the foundation of the story by elucidating the roots of English colonization and the successes of the colonies, then introducing the explosive matter of who was to pay for the French and Indian War of 1754–63. He reads from the fiery 1760s arguments of the Boston lawyer James Otis, who wrote, "The very act of taxing exercised over those who are not represented appears to me to be depriving them of one of their most essential rights as freemen."

He reads from the reasoned pamphlets of John Dickinson, who worried "whether Parliament can legally take money out of our pockets without our consent. If they can, our boast of liberty is but ... a sound." He brings us into the life and views of the brilliant Bostonian Mercy Otis Warren, who fashioned one of the first histories of the American Revolution from her own observations.

And of course, he brings us closer to the extraordinary minds leading the colonies throughout the political tumult, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.

In Professor Mancall's lectures you learn the British side as well. You'll hear the opinions of loyalist Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson. And you'll hear the words of King George III, who declared himself "still hoping that my people in America would have discerned the traitorous views of their leaders and have been convinced that to be a subject of Great Britain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest member of any civil society in the known world."

Professor Mancall shines when revealing how ideas were formed in the minds of those affected by events, and how their ideas inspired so much that is familiar to us today.

Independence Was Just the Beginning

In achieving freedom from Great Britain, the colonists traded one set of problems for another. No country the size of the United States had ever successfully established a republic. Indeed, in the 1780s, the young nation could not pay its debts or craft an effective foreign policy. European monarchies expected imminent collapse. Instead, 55 men wrote a constitution for a national government, then asked for approval from the people. Debate raged, but owing to a pledge to add a list of guaranteed liberties, the United States Constitution became the nation's supreme law.

Still, no one knew whether the new governmental structure would work. It seemed to be an untried collection of compromises, checks, and balances. But the new country began auspiciously, led by the most revered American of the age, George Washington.

With Washington's voluntary exit from the political stage in 1796, political leadership fell to two Revolutionary comrades who developed different views for the young country's proper course. John Adams was devoted to a strong national government—Thomas Jefferson to individual liberties. Each was backed by passionate followers and believed he was working for the principles of 1775–76.

In the end, what may have done most to save the country from catastrophic failure was that Adams, though discouraged and angry after losing in a free election, passed power peaceably to Jefferson who, rather than seek political revenge, carried on much of what had been built up since the Constitution's inception.

The Meaning of the Revolution

The American Revolution was one of the great turning points in Western civilization. Anglo-American colonists, long loyal to the British monarch, thought that governments were meant to serve people rather than the other way around, and they struggled to establish such a government for themselves. They also struggled among themselves over how that government would relate to citizens and to their respective states, and how the government would be both powerful enough to do good for the people yet not so powerful as to abuse natural liberties.

Professor Mancall delves into all this. His course contains separate lectures on how the Revolution affected women, Native Americans, African Americans, and the balance of rich and poor. As Professor Mancall notes, the words, "All men are created equal" set in motion ideas and movements that went beyond the simple thought that a colonist is the equal of a Briton; they kindled a flame that began to light the world.

Why the Revolution Worked

As Professor Mancall makes clear, the success of the Revolution was never assured. The leading resistors were fallible men, and the current of events so swirled about them that it could easily have swept them aside. Yet the Revolution of 1760–1800 did work.

One reason was effective patriot propaganda. Paul Revere deftly crafted an illustration of the Boston Massacre that inflamed Americans against British soldiers. Thomas Paine brilliantly expressed the rationale for independence in his pamphlet Common Sense.

Another reason for American success was the flawed strategy and tactics of the British. During 1776 to 1778, British and Hessian soldiers so plundered families that Americans resolved the more firmly to separate from Britain. Even in the South where slaveholders might have worried over the "equality" language of the Declaration, the British discovered most Americans thought of themselves as American rather than British.

Then the Americans realized they needed a new constitution and wrote one so well that it has remained virtually intact after 220 years.

The election of 1800 placed a capstone on the success of the Revolution. Against a backdrop a French Revolution sinking into military dictatorship, Adams stepped aside. Jefferson understood the significance of the moment and asserted that despite political differences of party, nothing was more important than the continuation of the Revolutionary ideas of liberty, citizens' rights, and responsible self-government.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Self-Evident Truths
    The American Revolution was fought on battlefields during 1775-1783, but it began in 1760, when colonists began to question the motives and authority of Great Britain, and it continued until 1800, when it became clear that the republic would survive. x
  • 2
    Ideas and Ideologies
    The Revolution generated many ideas. The most convincing were organized and spread through specific media, especially pamphlets, that created a new ideology—a way to understand and ultimately shape events in the messy, real world. x
  • 3
    Europeans of Colonial America
    Elizabethan England had much to do with setting the future direction of the colonies. It saw America as a resource for raw materials, a market for British manufactured goods, and a place to challenge the spread of Catholicism. By 1700, Germans and Scots-Irish made up a significant portion of the population. x
  • 4
    Natives and Slaves of Colonial America
    The natives succumbed to disease and warfare, plunging to only one-tenth of the number living in 1492. Meanwhile, colonial land ownership, and participation in self-government, was spread more widely in New England than in the Mid-Atlantic; conversely, slavery was most economically feasible in the labor-intensive plantations of the Chesapeake Bay region and points farther south. x
  • 5
    The Colonies in the Atlantic World, c. 1750
    By 1750, the colonists had created a successful economy and could do as they pleased as long as they remained loyal to their king. They sent raw materials to Great Britain and the West Indies and lived under light taxation in the form of levies on transatlantic shipping. The population grew, a fact noted with satisfaction by Benjamin Franklin. x
  • 6
    The Seven Years' War
    The expanding colonies came into armed conflict with the French to the north and west. Britain and France fought into the 1760s; as a result Britain won Canada and territory stretching to the Mississippi River. But the tremendous war debt was one that Britons could not pay alone, and by war's end there were thousands of British soldiers in the colonies. Irritations festered. x
  • 7
    The British Constitution
    The "unwritten" British Constitution, much cherished by Britons and colonists, was thought to balance three "natural" orders of society: king, aristocracy, and people. Each checked the potential abuses of the others. Important political writers of the period—most famously, Locke and Montesquieu, but also Trenchard and Gordon—examined natural rights and how people related to their rulers. x
  • 8
    George III and the Politics of Empire
    George III, who ascended the throne in 1760, believed that the king's place in the British constitution had diminished over time. Moreover, he was facing crises: both political challenges at home by John Wilkes and the great debt from the Seven Years' War. He felt he had to steer the ship of state with a firm hand. x
  • 9
    Politics in British America before 1760
    From 1750 to 1763, colonists had become used to self-rule, particularly to petitioning. If they wanted change, they would petition their legislative bodies. These bodies, made up of colonial freeholders, were generally obliging. Britain did not mind this degree of self-rule; it concentrated on the revenues of transoceanic trade. x
  • 10
    James Otis and the Writs of Assistance Case
    Colonists were used to bribing officials to avoid taxes on imports. A law called the Writs of Assistance allowed government agents to board ships they suspected of harboring contraband. Boston merchants hired James Otis to argue that the Writs law violated the British constitution because it wrested a property right from property owners. He lost the case, but stirred colonists to consider the reach of the British government in North America. x
  • 11
    The Search for Order and Revenue
    In the mid-1760s Parliament passed a series of acts intended to raise revenues and keep order in the colonies. One act prevented colonists from living west of the Appalachian Ridge. Another quashed paper currency in the colonies, and another taxed transoceanic trade goods. Americans saw them as intrusions on their rights and liberties and objected to being treated differently from the king's subjects in Britain. x
  • 12
    The Stamp Act and Rebellion in the Streets
    In 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which would have imposed significant taxes on Americans. Enraged by its provisions, colonists protested in the streets and threatened violence against Stamp Act agents. They organized bands of resistors called Sons of Liberty. x
  • 13
    Parliament Digs in Its Heels, 1766–1767
    Parliament repealed the Stamp Act to show it was responsive to the colonists' complaints and that the colonists had "virtual representation" in Parliament. But they followed with the Declaratory Act, saying Parliament had firm jurisdiction over the colonies and, in 1767, the Townshend Acts, which taxed consumer goods. Colonists saw the second as more of a threat than the first because it hurt their economic well-being. x
  • 14
    The Crisis of Representation
    Americans scrutinized British actions and rethought their relationship with Britain. They questioned whether the process of petitioning they were used to in the colonies could work with a government across an ocean. x
  • 15
    The Logic of Loyalty and Resistance
    Americans protested "taxation without representation," but they continued to petition the king for change, showing no interest in independence. They were interested in a more responsive government and supported the views of John Wilkes who urged Parliament to publish its debates and make other changes. Many American colonists gravitated toward the resistance movement in the hope that it would convince the British to abandon their recent policies. x
  • 16
    Franklin and the Search for Reconciliation
    Benjamin Franklin moved to London to help smooth relations between the colonies and the Crown. Many of his sympathies lay with the British government, but he was also a sort of "man of the people." As tensions rose, Franklin incurred the wrath of the British ministry. x
  • 17
    The Boston Massacre
    The Boston Massacre of 1770 was tragic and unpremeditated. It inflamed the colonists' anxieties about standing armies, which some political theorists asserted were agents of potential tyrants. Boston silversmith Paul Revere made an engraving that, widely circulated, helped fan the flames. Speeches reinforced the notion that the British were committed to wresting liberties from Americans. x
  • 18
    The British Empire and the Tea Act
    The British repealed many taxes but kept one on tea in hopes of raising revenues for the East India Company. Again colonists saw the move as imposed without their consent. Many colonists became increasingly suspicious of the British government. x
  • 19
    The Boston Tea Party and the Coercive Acts
    A crowd of Bostonians destroyed a shipment of tea in December 1773. Parliament passed legislation Americans called the Intolerable Acts, which closed the port of Boston until the tea damage was paid for, suspended the colony's regular government, reorganized much of the American interior, and allowed British soldiers to quarter themselves in Boston. x
  • 20
    The First Continental Congress
    Colonists organized an extra-legal Continental Congress in 1774 to discuss common problems and to stimulate sympathy for occupied Bostonians. They urged the king to return to the familiar system of rule in effect before 1760. x
  • 21
    Lexington and Concord
    Fearful of a standing army in Boston, Massachusetts farmers armed themselves. British soldiers, threatened, marched from Boston to Lexington and Concord to seize a store of gunpowder. Armed Minutemen refused to disband, and the British responded with gunfire. By the end of the day more than 300 men had fallen in battle. x
  • 22
    Second Continental Congress and Bunker Hill
    The fever of rebellion ran high. A band of colonists seized Fort Ticonderoga from the British. The colonists called for another Continental Congress to meet in Philadelphia. Men flocked to Boston and fortified Breed's Hill. The British prevailed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, but only after they suffered a large number of casualties. x
  • 23
    Thomas Paine and Common Sense
    King George believed that Americans had been misled by evil men. Then early in 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense. It presented logical arguments why the colonies should be independent of Great Britain, and it became wildly successful. Read in every colony, perhaps in every household, its arguments resonated deeply with and inspired the Americans. x
  • 24
    The British Seizure of New York
    The British came to believe that the occupation of Boston was counterproductive and relocated their armed forces to New York where they thought they would receive a better reception—and did. They were right. But the move signaled an expansion of the war and their exodus from Boston suggested that the British were already conceding defeat in the war of words. x
  • 25
    The Declaration of Independence
    During the troubled occupation of Boston and then of New York, Congress debated and voted for independence. Thomas Jefferson articulated the reasons why. x
  • 26
    The War for New York and New Jersey
    British General William Howe defeated the Americans outside New York, occupied the city, then pursued the Americans through New Jersey. But the Americans won decisive battles at Trenton and Princeton, boosting their cause. British and Hessian soldiers pillaged and raped during the campaign. x
  • 27
    Saratoga, Philadelphia, and Valley Forge
    The Continental Army defeated the British at Saratoga. But the British took Philadelphia, and at Valley Forge the American army was sorely tried. Many Americans nonetheless embraced the cause of the rebellion, cherishing their fight for liberties, and held hope for independence. x
  • 28
    The Creation of State Constitutions
    In one of the most creative acts of the revolutionary times, the Continental Congress called on the states to write constitutions. Americans thus set out on an uncharted exercise in self-government, writing constitutions based on the notion that government exists to serve the people's interests. x
  • 29
    Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom
    Jefferson crafted a law for Virginia, especially radical at the time, in support of freedom of thought, not only in religion, but also in a more general sense. It was perhaps the greatest state government document of the 18th century. x
  • 30
    Franklin, Paris, and the French Alliance
    Franklin used his celebrity with the French and hints of reconciliation with Britain to move the French into commercial and military treaties with the United States. Once these treaties were signed, printers in America gave them wide circulation. x
  • 31
    The Articles of Confederation
    The Continental Congress adopted a frame of government drafted by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. Under the Articles of Confederation, a government came into being with representatives from 13 sovereign states, each state having an equal vote in the national government. Ratified in 1781, the Articles were a success, but the central government eventually proved ineffective after the war ended. x
  • 32
    Yorktown and the End of the War
    The British moved into the South, hoping to pick up support of slaveholders troubled by the language of the Declaration. But although the British could win military victories, they could not pacify the South or win the hearts and minds of the people. Their army surrendered at Yorktown. x
  • 33
    The Treaty of Paris of 1783
    The British declined to continue the war. The Treaty of Paris defined the boundaries of the new country and banned reprisals on Tories. By surrendering his commission, George Washington demonstrated that the people would rule the military in the new nation. x
  • 34
    The Crises of the 1780s
    The new nation had problems. Its central government was not strong enough to tackle piracy and foreign trade, or deal well with a tax revolt in western Massachusetts called Shays' Rebellion, or raise funds to pay off the debt from the war. By 1786, many Americans realized they needed to meet to revise the Articles of Confederation. x
  • 35
    African Americans and the Revolution
    After the rebels signed the Declaration of Independence, many came to realize that the continued existence of slavery was a contradiction to the principles of universal human equality defined in it. Residents of northern states soon abolished the institution, but it clung to life in the Chesapeake states; only in the Deep South did some offer spirited defenses of slavery. x
  • 36
    The Constitutional Convention
    Leaders from the states gathered in Philadelphia to craft a new government in 1787. They had learned much during the process of writing state constitutions and hoped to establish a more effective central government. They struggled with the notion of how to represent the states as well as the people and how state governments could coexist with a powerful national government. x
  • 37
    The United States Constitution
    The framers of the Constitution outlined a government deriving its power from the people. The Constitution created a powerful executive branch and laid out the operations of the two branches of the national legislature. The founders hoped that this new government could handle the kinds of problems that had been so vexing during the middle of the 1780s. x
  • 38
    The Antifederalist Critique
    Antifederalists, those opposed to the Constitution as it emerged from the Philadelphia convention, worried about the new government's extensive powers and potential for abuse. They bemoaned the lack of a bill of rights. They thought the executive might be too strong to be kept in check. They published their arguments in hopes of thwarting ratification. x
  • 39
    The Federalists' Response
    In response, the Federalists, particularly James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, argued powerfully in print that the proposed government had enough checks and balances to preserve liberty and avert abuse. Nevertheless, they agreed that the Constitution should be amended with a bill of rights. x
  • 40
    The Bill of Rights
    Many in the states called for a bill of rights as a quid pro quo for approving the Constitution. James Madison drafted such a bill, and 10 of its items were adopted by 1791. They explicitly stated the rights of the people that could not be limited by the judiciary or the federal government. x
  • 41
    Politics in the 1790s
    The 1790s were a Federalist era, with the first president, Washington, vowing to work for all the people and not factions. But a growing Republican group led by Jefferson touted agrarianism and independent farmers, while a Federalist faction led by Hamilton promoted manufacturing and efforts to develop the nation's economy. x
  • 42
    The Alien and Sedition Acts
    By the middle of the 1790s, many Americans were concerned about the French Revolution, which had spun in unpredictable directions after its start in 1789. Republicans saw much of value in France, while the Federalists found allies in Britain. John Adams, the second president, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, calling for the arrest of some critics of the government. Republicans, following the lead of Jefferson and Madison, protested these statutes as infringements on the right of free speech. x
  • 43
    The Election of 1800
    In 1800 President Jefferson had the opportunity to take political revenge but instead used his inaugural to confirm his faith in the Constitution. The country would not descend to such divisiveness as the French Revolution produced. In 1803 the Supreme Court asserted itself as the final arbiter of law and defender of the people's interests. x
  • 44
    Women and the American Revolution
    The liberties and equalities in the Revolution's documents remained distant dreams for women. Women could aspire to the position of "republican mother," educating their husbands and sons in the virtues needed for the self-governing nation. Yet women lost some of their rights under common law and did not gain appreciable political or divorce rights. x
  • 45
    The Revolution and Native Americans
    Some Native Americans supported the rebellion, but more believed that an alliance with the British was in their best interests. By war's end, many victorious Americans believed that all Natives had supported the British and such views supported the exclusion of Natives from the United States. x
  • 46
    The American Revolution as Social Movement
    Despite bearing the brunt of the fighting, lower-income men typically did not benefit financially. Tens of thousands of loyalists emigrated, sometimes to England, often to Canada. Notions of deference declined, and many had expanded opportunities after the war. x
  • 47
    Reflections by the Revolutionary Generation
    Those who experienced the Revolution differed over what it meant: a world gone mad; a success story for the ages; the crucible for creating a new type of person; a movement for liberty that had been partially repudiated. x
  • 48
    The Meaning of the Revolution
    Some of the Revolution's ramifications took decades to materialize—the end of slavery, rights for women—and some continue work themselves out. But the Revolution left posterity with the transforming idea that the people are the sovereigns, at least in America, and as sovereigns, each has the responsibility to participate in and shape public life in the United States. x

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Peter C. Mancall

About Your Professor

Peter C. Mancall, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Dr. Peter C. Mancall is Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Southern California and Director of the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. He earned his A.B. from Oberlin College and his master's degree and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before taking his position at USC, he held teaching positions at the University of Kansas, the University College Galway in Ireland, and Harvard University....
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Origins and Ideologies of the American Revolution is rated 3.7 out of 5 by 78.
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tedious LONG Quotes Professor Mancall devotes at least 35% of his time tediously reading long quotes. While I am second to none in my appreciation of primary sources, huge swaths of the class should not be devoted to them. Just read a book. He seems enamored with the florid and elaborate prose of the 18th century, reading long passages of obscure gazettes and broadsheets. To make matters worse, he speed reads these articles (if he didn't, the quotes would consume >50% of the class time). Perhaps he was convinced to do 48 classes, where 30 would have been better. Cut the quotes and give me concepts, ideas, and analysis.
Date published: 2020-07-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It Was the Best of Courses / It Was the Worst ... The Best: As far as substance and relevance, I would give this course a “10” if I could. I learned so much that I had not encountered before, information that I found interesting and valuable and that gave me a lot of pleasure to know. The Worst: The presentation of this course was simply abominable. I was compelled to frequently rewind, because I failed to understand what was being said due to the professor’s stumbling over his words, poor annunciation and racing speech. (I hate to write this. I’ve never written a review that was disparaging to the presenter in any way). Because I valued the content so much, I plowed through, and I’m glad I did. I called TGC to order a full transcript of the course, but I was advised that was no such transcript. What a shame! (I would be tempted to type my own transcript if it wouldn’t be such a chore to listen to his delivery.) It would be such an awesome course if it weren’t for the seriously flawed presentation. I would recommend the course only to those who are willing to put forth an extra measure of effort to understand what the professor is saying.
Date published: 2020-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from More than just the Revolution First. This is one of the older courses so the lectures start and end with a “clap track” which I find odd but all the older ones seem to be that way. Also, the DVD doesn’t come with streaming audio automatically. The course is very interesting in that it sort of slowly meanders through the Early Years of the Colony providing a lot of Historical Context for the things that were slowly leading up to the Revolution. Much of the information I knew through other studies but this course “connected the dots”. I give it a “4” because a course has to “knock my socks off” to garner such praise.
Date published: 2020-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful resource I first heard this series of lectures about 15 years ago and periodically return to it to refresh my understanding of the ideologies that contributed to the birth of America. While it is true that Professor Mancall does speak quickly at times and tends towards a wordy presentation, it is also true these lectures delve deeply into the fine points of the source materials; and there can be no substitute for a close examination of the source materials if one true wishes to form an easily defensible, credible perspective on history.
Date published: 2020-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding selection of primary sources and ideol This is an outstanding introductory course on the ideas the led to and resulted from the American Revolution, and event that was markedly different from the French or Russian revolutions where the regime was toppled and wealth was redistributed. Mancall emphasizes consistently the struggle between liberty and power, especially in the latter stages, from the Articles of Confederation through the Constitutional Convention, through the Adams and Jefferson administrations. The primary material was very judiciously selected, demonstrating how life, liberty, property, safety, and happiness were ideologically folded into a new republican view of the world . I was especially intrigued by the quotes from the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, written by Jefferson, the quotes from Abigail's letters to John Adams, the correspondence of George Washington with Madison and Jefferson, and the assessments of Frederick Douglass on the meaning of the Revolution for the African Americans. Absolutely fascinating. The military events are mentioned only as nodal points around and through which the ideological developments form and shift. Yes, as other reviewers have mentioned, the diction is not 100% perfect, but that is exactly how real faculty talk. In fact the delivery made the whole listening experience so much more realistic, vivid, and immersive. This course has made me appreciate how much important ideologies were as drivers of the actual events of the revolution, and how the Declaration of Independence and Constitution created great anxiety and ambivalence as to who is included in "...that all men are created equal..." Great course indeed! Highly recommended!
Date published: 2019-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Starts slow, becomes great The first lecture or so are slow, explaining how 17th century printing presses worked, the difference between a placard and a broadsheet, and defining "idea" vs "ideology". Then it gets fascinating. Going basically in chronological order, he explains the merchantile set-up that worked so well until 1760, what changed then, and how each new pariliamentary and royal decree led us down the path to independance. Actual events are mentioned, but only as background to explain how the events had an affect on our evolving attitudes (and those of the British). I have only watched through lecture 30 so far, but I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2019-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Do We Still Believe These Things? This course provides an immersive understanding of the principles causes of, and ideological struggles and reasoning behind, what led up to and became the American Revolution. Because it is so rich in offering us primary sources -- excerpts from writings, speeches, letters, and debates -- we get to hear first-hand of the reasoning of men (and some women) who often opposed each other, and we experience remarkably modern-feeling awareness of conflicting evidence, suspicions of conspiracies, and the often sharp-tongued clashes of opinionated men. In so doing, Professor Mancell manages to bring to life people and issues of long-ago in a way that seems remarkably modern: what, really, were "the facts," and did the fact that someone opposed you mean that they were an opponent, even an enemy, or just someone whose views contained elements of truth? It is impressive how often they listened to each other, actually heard the gist of the other's concerns, and then moved to accommodate major objections. Others who have taken this course have opined that, among other things, the "British point of view" was ill-expressed. That is not my opinion. On the contrary, Professor Mancell took pains to point out how each step that was taken -- from the British perspective -- seemed reasonable, and how the British regarded colonial objections to those steps as being both selfish and founding on a misunderstanding of the role of Parliament and the King in governing the colonies. In fact, after having lapped up each of the 48 lectures as a wonderful immersion into vital history presented almost in an "as you are there" perspective, I recognized the all too familiar pattern of EACH side believing that the evidence and the behavior of the "other" justified their own position. Over the crucial years from 1763 to 1775, both the colonial position and that of the Empire hardened as each become even more convinced that the other was wrong. Sadly, we do not have to look far to see how such thinking continues to dominate what passes for "discussion" and "reasoned debate" in our own day. I concur that there were aspects of the professor's presentation that were a tad distracting: he did tend to speak rapidly, causing him at times to stumble over a word or phrase and then having to repeat or correct himself. Personally, I attribute this to: a) the fact that he had a tremendous amount of material he wanted to present, despite the fact that he had what seemed to be a generous 48 lectures in which to do so, and b) his enthusiasm in presenting it. But I found each lecture rich in facts and chronology, and appreciated that he began each lecture with a summary review of the previous one and then gave a summary overview of what the present lecture would contain. I found his narrative neither hard to follow nor his presentation upsetting. But I guess each person has his/her own desired pace and manner of presentation. In our own day, when our peoples' understanding of American history seems paper-thin at best, and in which first principles and reasoned discussions between people who disagree with each other have virtually disappeared, this course is a welcome re-introduction to the formative years in which our democratic republic came into being and, in addition, poses clear questions about how long our tawdry state of affairs can continue without us loosing what these Founders gained for us. Highly recommended: buckle up and sink in!
Date published: 2019-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Passionate and In Depth There is a level of detail here that gives you a feeling of the life of the times, rarely found in history courses. This course is an immersive experience into the crucial period of American history and how it became so presented in a lively and exciting manner by a man who obviously is passionate about the subject. I've listened to a lot of the Great Courses material on the American Revolution and this ranks amongst the most engaging and the very best.
Date published: 2019-05-05
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