This lecture focuses on George Washington and the combined qualities that made him a key figure in Revolutionary America, arguing that the most crucial reason for his success as a national leader was that he proved repeatedly that he could be trusted with power - a vital quality in a nation fearful of the collapse of republican governance at the hands of a tyrant.
Raphael, A People's History of the American Revolution, chapter 2
McDonnell, "Popular Mobilization and Political Culture in Revolutionary Virginia"
Schwartz, "George Washington and the Whig Conception of Heroic Leadership"
The American Revolution entailed some remarkable transformations--converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause--but it was far more complex and enduring then the fighting of a war. As John Adams put it, "The Revolution was in the Minds of the people... before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington"--and it continued long past America's victory at Yorktown. This course will examine the Revolution from this broad perspective, tracing the participants' shifting sense of themselves as British subjects, colonial settlers, revolutionaries, and Americans.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.