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Illuminates how the preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the Revolutionary War The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then living in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with the British. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne shows that in t Illuminates how the preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the Revolutionary War The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then living in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with the British. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne shows that in the prelude to 1776, the abolition of slavery seemed all but inevitable in London, delighting Africans as much as it outraged slaveholders, and sparking the colonial revolt.Prior to 1776, anti-slavery sentiments were deepening throughout Britain and in the Caribbean, rebellious Africans were in revolt. For European colonists in America, the major threat to their security was a foreign invasion combined with an insurrection of the enslaved. It was a real and threatening possibility that London would impose abolition throughout the colonies--a possibility the founding fathers feared would bring slave rebellions to their shores. To forestall it, they went to war.The so-called Revolutionary War, Horne writes, was in part a counter-revolution, a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their right to enslave others. The Counter-Revolution of 1776 brings us to a radical new understanding of the traditional heroic creation myth of the United States.


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Illuminates how the preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the Revolutionary War The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then living in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with the British. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne shows that in t Illuminates how the preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the Revolutionary War The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then living in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with the British. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne shows that in the prelude to 1776, the abolition of slavery seemed all but inevitable in London, delighting Africans as much as it outraged slaveholders, and sparking the colonial revolt.Prior to 1776, anti-slavery sentiments were deepening throughout Britain and in the Caribbean, rebellious Africans were in revolt. For European colonists in America, the major threat to their security was a foreign invasion combined with an insurrection of the enslaved. It was a real and threatening possibility that London would impose abolition throughout the colonies--a possibility the founding fathers feared would bring slave rebellions to their shores. To forestall it, they went to war.The so-called Revolutionary War, Horne writes, was in part a counter-revolution, a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their right to enslave others. The Counter-Revolution of 1776 brings us to a radical new understanding of the traditional heroic creation myth of the United States.

30 review for The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Lehrer

    I really wanted to absolutely love this book. I wanted to 5 star it and have it a favorite and recommend it to everyone. It's full of information and historical analysis pointing to the wholly correct and anti-racist conclusion that American independence was largely spurred by American obsession with enslaving Africans and the creation of white identity. Horne provides countless examples and events explaining the creation of whiteness, the uprisings of Africans, and the disgusting attitudes of Eu I really wanted to absolutely love this book. I wanted to 5 star it and have it a favorite and recommend it to everyone. It's full of information and historical analysis pointing to the wholly correct and anti-racist conclusion that American independence was largely spurred by American obsession with enslaving Africans and the creation of white identity. Horne provides countless examples and events explaining the creation of whiteness, the uprisings of Africans, and the disgusting attitudes of Europeans, especially European American colonists - all of which is virtually non-existent in public education in America. Public education it is, after reading this, impossible to deny is atrociously racist. The problem with the book is the writing. It is repetitive repetitive repetitive. It is dense in the bad way. It is droning and boring. It is full of words and sentences that require several minutes just to figure out what they mean. A very simple example: "As the 1756 war was concluding, there were more sales of Africans from Massachusetts to far-flung sites, a kind of ersatz abolitionism that was to become au courant in the republic: ultimately, there was a conflation on the mainland of getting rid of both slaves and Africans generally, since the latter - in whatever guise - were perceived as a threat to internal security." that is ONE SENTENCE. That's not even one of the really tough sentence, it's a pretty normal one throughout the book. Ersatz? Au courant? What? This sentence could have simply been: As the 1756 war was concluding, there were more sales of Africans from Massachusetts to distant locations. These sales gained popularity throughout the mainland as, increasingly, slaves and Africans in general were seen as a threat to internal security. Simple. Two sentences, simplified and clear. The book is absolutely chock full of confusing words, phrases, grammar, and run-on sentences. Add to that the frequent quotes from ye olde english and it makes it even worse. If you can stomach a long boring read, you'll learn a lot. If the book was far more concise, less repetitive, and better written, it would be incredible.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This was originally published on my blog: http://elizabethannsalem.wordpress.co... As a graduate student, my comprehensive exam lists were filled with books that reinterpreted the history of slavery using new documentary sources, revealing a history where slaves exercised agency and resisted the harsh conditions in which they lived. While the history of slavery during the antebellum period has been extensively analyzed and documented, the history of slavery during the colonial period has been pai This was originally published on my blog: http://elizabethannsalem.wordpress.co... As a graduate student, my comprehensive exam lists were filled with books that reinterpreted the history of slavery using new documentary sources, revealing a history where slaves exercised agency and resisted the harsh conditions in which they lived. While the history of slavery during the antebellum period has been extensively analyzed and documented, the history of slavery during the colonial period has been paid far less attention by historians. As Gerald Horne points out in The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (published on April 18th), this is because paying attention would force historians (and, by extension, Americans) to acknowledge the very deep relationship between slavery and the American Revolution—a relationship that is uncomfortable to examine, because it forces a reevaluation of the very meaning of that revolution. Horne, a prolific writer and the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Houston, builds on Atlantic World scholarship and the history of slavery to pose a compelling thesis: because slavery was the foundation of the economy of the colonial Western Hemisphere, the history of the American Revolution is not centered on 1776, but 1688. The Glorious Revolution helped make possible the rise of a merchant class whose wealth was based in the slave trade (as traders or planters), and slavery throughout the British colonies, both in the Caribbean and North America, increased accordingly. The end result was instability, as both slavery and the resistance to slavery grew. The ramifications of this instability, however, played out differently in the colonies and in London: London moved toward abolition and a realization that free Africans allied to Britain could be useful in playing the game of imperial politics against Spain and France, while the merchants of North America, realizing that the institution of slavery was threatened, moved toward “independency.” Meanwhile, Africans, caught in the middle, pursued alliances with indigenous peoples and with Britain’s imperial enemies, conducting slave revolts on their own—a cycle that would later prove disastrous for those Africans remaining within the territorial bounds of the newly formed United States. Independence, Horne points out, was not the story about Enlightenment ideals of liberty as espoused by the Founding Fathers, but was a conservative counter-revolution. Americans were fighting for the right to keep and increase slavery (thus making the later Confederate claim for being the true heirs of the American Revolution plausible, but that’s a story for another day). Horne rightfully points out that the story of the American Revolution as it is so often told (as a progress narrative where freedom and democracy inevitably won out in the end) only favors the winners, and misses the larger context of the politics of the British Empire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This empire was global, not limited to North America. And British colonies in the Western Hemisphere were built on the economic basis of slavery. Africans were major players in this world—not just “helpers” in the Patriot cause. By restoring this larger context, Horne demands that we imagine a far more complicated world than that usually given to us in our history books. This picture, however, is profoundly uncomfortable, as it should be. I did not find this book an easy read, and not just for the subject matter. In part, I suspect it was because I was reading an ARC, and there were several places where I assumed changes would be made before final printing (hopefully including Horne’s use of state nicknames, which got old quickly). I also had some trouble with Horne’s argumentative style, which kept circling around to pick up themes and events from earlier in the book. Once this style sunk into my brain, however, I was able to appreciate the significance of what Horne was arguing. So my advice would be to stick with the book until the end, because the payoff is worth it. My hope would be that Horne’s book will have a readership beyond academic circles, although I know that there are far too many people out there who won’t even brook a discussion of the Founding Fathers having motives beyond Enlightenment-inspired altruism. But the book is out there. And the fight goes on.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    History or polemic? In a simplified nutshell, Gerald Horne’s argument in this book is that the Revolution was in large measure a response to the colonists’ fear of London’s drive towards abolition of slavery. Horne argues that slavery underpinned every aspect of the pre-1776 economy and as such was seen as crucial by the colonists, even while slave resistance was growing and slave revolts were becoming more common. The Royal African Company’s loss of monopoly over the slave trade in the la History or polemic? In a simplified nutshell, Gerald Horne’s argument in this book is that the Revolution was in large measure a response to the colonists’ fear of London’s drive towards abolition of slavery. Horne argues that slavery underpinned every aspect of the pre-1776 economy and as such was seen as crucial by the colonists, even while slave resistance was growing and slave revolts were becoming more common. The Royal African Company’s loss of monopoly over the slave trade in the late 17th century meant that free-traders had entered the slave markets, and the consequent uncontrolled rise in slave numbers led to fears that the slave owners did not have the capacity to stifle such resistance. While London was showing signs of beginning to think that the solution might lie in abolition, (with the added benefit that Africans could then be armed to assist in the ongoing turf wars with Spain and France on the American continent), the colonists feared a situation where Africans could be given some kind of equality or even superiority within the armed forces or, still worse, in civilian life. So, Horne argues, the Revolution was as much about maintaining the institution of the enslavement of Africans as achieving ‘liberty’ for ‘white’ colonists. Horne makes two further assertions, both leading from this central argument. Firstly, he shows that Africans largely sided with Britain or one of the other European powers in the Revolution and prior to that had often looked to both Spain and France as possible liberators. From this, Horne argues that some Africans saw the war as not just a possible route to freedom but hoped that a victory could lead to some kind of league between themselves, the indigenous people of America and one of the European powers to form a government in place of the white colonists. Secondly, and leading on from that, much of the subsequent ill-treatment of Africans, as slaves or free citizens, can be attributed to them having picked the wrong side… ‘…the ongoing persecution of descendants of mainland enslaved Africans is – in part – a continuing expression of what tends to befall those who are defeated in bloody warfare: often they are subjected to a heinous collective punishment.’ Horne concludes therefore that the general view of the creation of the republic as a great leap forward for humanity is erroneous – an example of history being written by the winners, in this case the white colonists and their descendants. On the whole, I found Horne’s arguments partially but not wholly convincing. The book is a strange mix of history and polemic, written by someone who frequently lets his anger show through in the language he chooses to use – ‘…profit-hungry settlers were willing to sell the rope that might be used to encircle their pasty necks’, ‘the supposed trailblazing republic and its allegedly wondrous constitution’ etc; while his desire to avoid the use of the words ‘slaves’ and ‘black’ leads him at points into rather fanciful terminology, my favourites being ‘men of ebony’ and ‘the melanin rich’. When reading a history of a period of which one has very little existing knowledge, written by a historian unknown to one, the challenge is to decide how much confidence to have in the author’s interpretation of the facts. Really the only way I can ever think to do this is to see what the author says about a subject I do know a little about. Very early on in the book, Horne talks about the influx of Scots to the colonies, and his description of the causes and effects of the Jacobite rebellions was so over-simplified and frankly misleading that it left me gasping and gaping. I was left feeling, therefore, that I would have to take many of Horne’s interpretations with a large dose of scepticism. I also felt strongly that, while obviously Horne was speaking specifically about the impact of slavery, he failed to give enough emphasis to the other causes that combined to bring about the Revolution; and I felt this tunnel-vision approach weakened his argument rather than strengthening it. The style of writing is somewhat clumsy at times and Horne repeats the same information again and again throughout. He constantly jumps backwards and forwards in time rather than taking a linear approach. And he often refers to places or incidents without clarifying them, which can be problematic for a reader without an existing familiarity with the period and locations. All of these factors combined to make this a book that I somewhat struggled through rather than enjoyed. However, despite all of these problems, I still felt that there was a basic validity in much of what Horne was saying, in particular with regards to his main argument. Certainly worth reading to understand why he has extrapolated the conclusions that he has from that, but should perhaps be treated with the extra caution that applies to polemic rather than history. 3½ stars for me, so rounded up. Gerald Horne is the Moores Professor of History & African American Studies at the University of Houston, and has published over thirty books. NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, NYU Press.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Generally I don’t review a book till I have read every last word. I make an exception only when I find work so excellent that I am convinced that if the book ended right where I am, right now (about 75 percent through, and of course I checked the sources), it would still be worth the full cover price. I will read the rest, but you need to know about this book RIGHT NOW. Reading this galley, courtesy of the publisher, New York University, via Net Galley, made me feel as if the American history I s Generally I don’t review a book till I have read every last word. I make an exception only when I find work so excellent that I am convinced that if the book ended right where I am, right now (about 75 percent through, and of course I checked the sources), it would still be worth the full cover price. I will read the rest, but you need to know about this book RIGHT NOW. Reading this galley, courtesy of the publisher, New York University, via Net Galley, made me feel as if the American history I studied as an undergraduate and then taught for twenty years in the public school system was so incomplete as to be incorrect. If you care about American history; if you have ever wondered why Black anger still runs so deep, especially in certain parts of the USA; if you scratched your head over parts of American history as it has been presented and the ways it did not make sense, then you must read this book. The fact is that America’s early Black population, as well as that of Blacks in the Caribbean, behaved with much more courage and savvy than they are given credit for in standard history texts. The role of Spain that Horne explains here, as well as that of the Catholic Church, and of the Cherokee people, is startling news. And the fact is, what I read here makes me ask questions about all sorts of other events, such as the Louisiana Purchase (the significance of having included Florida in the deal is a monster once this new information is merged with what we knew before), to the Trail of Tears and banishment of the Cherokee Nation from Georgia, to the question I was never able to adequately answer for my own bright students: “Where did the free Blacks come from?” It’s here. It’s all here. America’s students have been robbed, up to this point. If you are a teacher, you have to get this book, even if it means buying it out of your own pocket. You can’t tell the truth without this book! In reading this outstanding work, knowledge of basic place-name geography is critical. A lot of people these days have no idea, for example, where the Bahamas stand in relationship to North America, which US states are where, or even which European nations are closest to the Caribbean and the USA, and if you are fuzzy in this regard, you may need to pull out a map or grab a globe so that you can see how much that proximity matters. Those miles are important miles, and this information is massively different from what I was taught, and it is well enough documented that I am convinced it is true. And it makes so much sense. I can’t hold this review until I have finished the book. I want all scholars who have been stuck in the dark through wrongful and errant selection of information in their own educations to know this book is available, and that what it imparts is huge. Black students deserve to know the truth; their history in the US is not one of pure terror and subjugation; their ancestors fought, and they thought, and they behaved politically. This knowledge is a basic right, not only for them, but for anyone who cares about the truth!

  5. 5 out of 5

    William West

    Some leftist historians still consider the coming into being of the United States as a positive, progressive development. Undeniably, the struggle for American independence from the Crown directly inspired the French Revolution, which in turn served as an inspiration for the revolutions in Russia and China and so on. But Gerald Horne, the Marxist historian of the African-American experience, here persuasively argues that the war for American independence constituted a counter-revolution. Horne c Some leftist historians still consider the coming into being of the United States as a positive, progressive development. Undeniably, the struggle for American independence from the Crown directly inspired the French Revolution, which in turn served as an inspiration for the revolutions in Russia and China and so on. But Gerald Horne, the Marxist historian of the African-American experience, here persuasively argues that the war for American independence constituted a counter-revolution. Horne charges that independence was intended to further consolidate the power of the oppressor class and further subjugate the oppressed of the thirteen colonies. Horne argues that slave resistance was a driving force in the colonization of what would become the mainland United States. For many years the sugar colonies of the Caribbean were seen by the Crown as more valuable and stable than those on the mainland, which were hampered by attacks from the indigenous as well as competing colonizers Spain and France. But the African slaves in the Caribbean soon came to outnumber the European oppressors by such numbers that the latter were helpless when the former rebelled. The mainland offered far more room to run in case of revolt, and it could house vastly more Europeans to keep the slaves in chains. An exodus to the mainland began. Badly in need of Europeans for the colonial project, the English settlers in America began to let go of their prejudices against such groups as the Irish and Scottish and even (to a lesser extent) the Jews. The Crown, being all too ready to rid British soil of such groups, sent them to the American colonies in mass where they were promised the eventual potential of owning property if they, in turn, put asside their hatred for the British. All ethnicities from the British Isles were to become "white". Thus, Horne asserts, skin color came to define identity more than ethnicity or religion. While slave revolts continued, the settlers were for the most part successful in maintaining power and some grew extremely wealthy by trading both with the British and, surreptitiously, with the Spanish in Florida and the French in Louisiana and Quebec. Both the colonists and the Crown knew that the colonists had become too powerful to keep under the royal thumb if things continued as they were. The Spanish deviled the colonists by promising escaped slaves freedom and allowing them into the army where they could share in the spoils of attacks on their former oppressors. Looking from afar, the Crown was quietly impressed with Spain's strategy. The African soldiers fought fiercely, and Spain, while controlling far less territory in what would become the United States than the British, often were the victors militarily. There was growing abolitionist sentiment in the Kingdom. Perhaps the English could fight the Spanish with their own fire by freeing the slaves. True, this could prove disastrous for European colonists of the mainland, but they were quickly turning into a danger themselves. Ultimately, however, the Crown decided to help its unruly subjects in America by launching the French-Indian War, which forced the Spanish from Florida and the French from Quebec. The crown made a pact with the indigenous to limit expansion west. British blood had been spilled for the colonists, and the Crown wanted to be recompensed through taxes to repay it for the war effort. Not seeking such another project, the Crown pressured the colonists not to expand westward. Both of these moves were greatly resented by the European colonists who began to talk more and more openly of independence. Talk of independence completely outraged the British who began to characterize, not unfairly it seems to me, the Americans as spectacular hypocrites for maintaining racist slavery while chiming about freedom from taxes to pay for a war fought for their benefit. Abolitionism became a major movement in England, and the courts seemed to be moving more and more towards freeing the slaves in the colonies. It was this, Horne argues, that ultimately drove the colonists into the arms of the Crown's enemies in France, and to independence. This allowed slavery to be maintained for another 80-something years and for the move westward that led to the genocide of the Native Americans. From the standpoint of the majority, then, the coming into being of the United States was a historical catastrophe. It ultimately proved fully beneficial only for those in the Colonies who were already the most powerful. It should thus, Horne convincingly argues, be understood as a counter-revolution.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wallace

    Gerald shows Americans what led the colonists to revolt against England was the Somerset Case of 1772 and Dunmore’s Edict of 1775. The potential of Britain outlawing slavery soon in the colonies became the revolutionary tipping point. English like Samuel Johnson, saw colonists pratting on about ‘liberty’ while happily completely depriving their slaves of it. Even New England was making a killing in profits from the slave trade; it wasn’t just the southern colonies. To unite the country, the futu Gerald shows Americans what led the colonists to revolt against England was the Somerset Case of 1772 and Dunmore’s Edict of 1775. The potential of Britain outlawing slavery soon in the colonies became the revolutionary tipping point. English like Samuel Johnson, saw colonists pratting on about ‘liberty’ while happily completely depriving their slaves of it. Even New England was making a killing in profits from the slave trade; it wasn’t just the southern colonies. To unite the country, the future United States faced a public relations problem; it had to create a heroic creation myth for the new nation that wasn’t based on sociopathic capitalist greed: a.k.a. its intended enslavement of one race for profit and its benevolent genocide of another race displaced for their land (settler-colonial). Thus, the American Revolution was not fought for ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty’ (and especially not for Blacks, Native Americans, women, and indentured servants), but was fought for “the reassertion of slaveowner control over the enslaved black population in the new republic.” Gerald Horne shows how America in effect created the first apartheid state (Noam Chomsky in his ‘Who Rules the World?’ confirms Gerald’s thesis). Gerald laments how the United States, founded on liberty (in theory) has spent all its history since depriving other countries and peoples of it. This is an important book because this is the one that finally destroys the white supremacist American Creation Myth (liberty and freedom for who?) and offers a fitting cover…

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Koch

    As an 18th century history nerd I found Horne's argument to be pretty persuasive. Essentially, he argues that London's move towards the abolition of slavery was a primary cause of the rebellion and independence of its American Colonies. I was aware of the slave revolts in the Caribbean colonies, and of course knew about the mass importation of slaves into North American in the 18th century. What I didn't know was how the unraveling of the RAC (Royal African Company) in 1688 led to capitalistic o As an 18th century history nerd I found Horne's argument to be pretty persuasive. Essentially, he argues that London's move towards the abolition of slavery was a primary cause of the rebellion and independence of its American Colonies. I was aware of the slave revolts in the Caribbean colonies, and of course knew about the mass importation of slaves into North American in the 18th century. What I didn't know was how the unraveling of the RAC (Royal African Company) in 1688 led to capitalistic opportunism of free traders that flooded the American colonies with slaves to feed a rapidly growing economy. The mass importation of slaves coupled with the British attempting to preserve the western expansion of the settlers into indigenous lands led directly to a confrontation and eventual break between the two. The British were caught in a vice. They needed manpower to combat the Catholic realms of the Spanish and French empires. Eventually this turned to arming slaves (as the French and Spanish already did). However, arming blacks to fight other armies containing free black soldiers to preserve a system of white supremacy and black bondage wasn't a workable solution. Over time the British leaned more towards abolition (including shockingly debating in Parliament granting trial by jury to slaves accused of crimes in the 1770s) and that ran counter to the colonial planter class and other local elites that benefited tremendously from slavery (and its by products). The colonists greatest fear was a slave uprising which matched what I knew about colonial Jamaica. I had always thought that that fear of white masters being overthrown by their black slaves was contained to the southern colonies of Maryland, Virginia, the Carolina's and Georgia. Horne does a good job outlining how that fear was prevalent throughout all 13 colonies (and why). I learned a lot overall (and there MANY citations for further reading and discovery), but I will say there are a couple of detractors to Horne's book that bugged me. One is minor and one is not. Structurally (Not minor): I would have preferred if the chapters went in a more linear fashion. We jump around a lot in time during each chapter. While I could follow along just fine I did find it a little annoying. Word choice (minor): This is not a casual read, and there were times where the word choice decided upon caused me to raise my eyebrows a bit. Not that I dislike the use of complicated words in academic writing, but sometimes I thought that a simpler word would have sufficed. At the end, I really enjoyed this book and think it is critical to understanding the time period. While I think that the causes of the revolution are varied and very complex more credit and attention does need to be given to the issue of slavery. In my studies, I always put Lord Dunmore's proclamation as a "hail mary" move to squash insurrection but Horne lays out a convincing case as why it was less radical than it seemed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Buccola

    A bold rethinking of the Revolution of 1776 This is a fantastic book. Gerald Horne has gone a long way toward undermining the supposed avant guard and progressive nature of the Revolution of 1776; pointing out, in extreme detail, that the real flaw of the founding fathers was that “they objected to a government that sought to protect peaceful Indians from the theft of their land and feared a court system that had started to have some grave doubts about enforcing slavery.” One of the things I part A bold rethinking of the Revolution of 1776 This is a fantastic book. Gerald Horne has gone a long way toward undermining the supposed avant guard and progressive nature of the Revolution of 1776; pointing out, in extreme detail, that the real flaw of the founding fathers was that “they objected to a government that sought to protect peaceful Indians from the theft of their land and feared a court system that had started to have some grave doubts about enforcing slavery.” One of the things I particularly enjoyed was the way in which Horne illustrates how instrumental the enslaved were in instigating all of this. Of particular note was the rebellious slaves throughout the Caribbean that forced London to focus more on the mainland. But throughout the book slaves are portrayed as the intelligent, thoughtful and resourceful people they clearly were. Despite all the praise of our supposed glorious and progressive Revolution of 1776, Horne correctly points out that the victors “went on from there to crush indigenous polities, then moved overseas to do something similar in Hawaii, Cuba, and the Philippines, then unleashed its counter-revolutionary force in 20th-century Guatemala, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Angola, South Africa, Iran, Grenada, Nicaragua, and other tortured sites too numerous to mention.” As James Madison so perfectly pointed out during the Constitutional Convention, “The primary aim of this government is to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority.” That guiding principle is still with us. It’s not hard to heap scorn on the Founding Fathers hypocrisy in yammering on about freedom and liberty as they actively denied these things to their slaves; but Horne goes further than that. He shows, for instance, that that same counter revolutionary spirit was alive and well during the Civil War and that those fighting to uphold slavery believed they were upholding the spirit of the Founding Fathers. In fact, it’s that deranged obsessive need to loot, plunder and exploit the world that has been a hallmark of our elite from the beginning.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    This is a powerful, scholarly, well-informed overview of how the pervasive spread not just of slavery, but of slavery of Africans, was importantly connected to the American Revolution. As part of this, Home shows that, decades before the Somerset decision of 1772 that freed a slave brought from Virginia to England, Americans (or proto-Americans, or mainlanders) feared just such a ruling. Home leads up to this by showing that both the colonies and London, before 1700 in the Caribbean and by soon af This is a powerful, scholarly, well-informed overview of how the pervasive spread not just of slavery, but of slavery of Africans, was importantly connected to the American Revolution. As part of this, Home shows that, decades before the Somerset decision of 1772 that freed a slave brought from Virginia to England, Americans (or proto-Americans, or mainlanders) feared just such a ruling. Home leads up to this by showing that both the colonies and London, before 1700 in the Caribbean and by soon after on mainland North America, the English feared that France and Spain would encourage English slaves, in both locations, to either revolt or run away. Next came struggles on wanting to control slaves vs. having ever more of them brought into slavery. Other subcurrents run through this. Until 1689, the British Crown had a monopoly on slave trading. After that, private traders gradually began taking more of the trade. That, in turn, connected to relations between the British sugar islands in the Caribbean and the mainland. Meanwhile, the 1700s have three major wars between Britain and the two Catholic powers, who also generally seemed to view Africans with not quite as much disfavor and given them a few more chances at emancipation. All of this ties together after 1763, when France and Spain no longer threaten the American colonies. Nine years later, Somerset squares the circle ... even as slave owners north, like John Hancock and James Otis, as well as those south, talk about rights and hint at revolution.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Koen Crolla

    Horne traces the deliberate creation and cultivation of anti-black racism and an artificial white identity in the British American colonies, and makes the case that the American revolution was significantly inspired by a perception that London was on the brink of abolishing of slavery. I'm only giving this book five stars because it's such an important topic and Horne does manage to communicate his points; the way in which he does so is so tedious that I'd probably subtract two stars for it in an Horne traces the deliberate creation and cultivation of anti-black racism and an artificial white identity in the British American colonies, and makes the case that the American revolution was significantly inspired by a perception that London was on the brink of abolishing of slavery. I'm only giving this book five stars because it's such an important topic and Horne does manage to communicate his points; the way in which he does so is so tedious that I'd probably subtract two stars for it in any other book. At least three quarters of this book should be replaced with a schematic time-line and a table of population figures; instead, Horne laboriously goes over the same handful of types of events repeating dozens of times (skirmishes with neighbouring European colonies or natives/escaped slaves being harboured by neighbouring European colonies or natives/slave revolts and the fear thereof) in the purplest prose possible, pushing his thesaurus well beyond where it will actually go ("Madrid was denuded of about 20% of its entire navy..."). Still, it is an important book, and it pairs well with one like There Are No Slaves in France to demonstrate the important differences in anti-black racism in the US versus Europe itself, as well as the artificialness of white identity and why it's much more of a fringe belief in Europe than in the US today. The bit of the that gets the most press—that the founding myth of the US is just that—is almost the least important aspect of it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Redpoet

    Excellent. So much in here even I did not know. This book explains many things which have transpired since what was obviously a counter revolution of white supremacist settlers and which established a white settler republic. I wish I were in high school again and stepped forward in my American History class with a "book report" on this book. What fun that would be. For anyone who reads this book, 1776 will never be the same. Outstanding work, well documented, and somewhat horrifying to boot. But Excellent. So much in here even I did not know. This book explains many things which have transpired since what was obviously a counter revolution of white supremacist settlers and which established a white settler republic. I wish I were in high school again and stepped forward in my American History class with a "book report" on this book. What fun that would be. For anyone who reads this book, 1776 will never be the same. Outstanding work, well documented, and somewhat horrifying to boot. But for a small pox outbreak amongst the African troops of the troops of Lord Dunmore, history might have been writ in a different manner.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rick Saling

    I did not know about the British use of armed Africans in colonial conflicts, and the problems that caused with pre-US colonists. I am becoming increasingly convinced that "settler-colonialist" is the correct way to understand the US, and it is apparent why we really don't learn much about the pre-1776 history of North America.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    Very interesting book, but it did tend to repeat itself a lot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    R.J.Cicisly Jr.

    If you’ve ever watched the author speak , he talks as he writes. He’s on TRNN all the time as a guest analyst. This book was a slow read. It almost seems like it was a transcript of numerous lectures put together into a manuscript without stringent editing and proofreading . I still found it very interesting. After watching him talk about the book, I put it on my reading list and finally read it. I lucked out one day when I was in Barnes & Noble waiting for new tires to be put on my car, I saw If you’ve ever watched the author speak , he talks as he writes. He’s on TRNN all the time as a guest analyst. This book was a slow read. It almost seems like it was a transcript of numerous lectures put together into a manuscript without stringent editing and proofreading . I still found it very interesting. After watching him talk about the book, I put it on my reading list and finally read it. I lucked out one day when I was in Barnes & Noble waiting for new tires to be put on my car, I saw this book on sale for $8.00!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This was worthwhile to me for the colonial history of British North America and the Caribbean. In particular, I found the demographics of states during this period useful (they are interspersed throughout the beginning half of the book). Horne argues that the privatization of slave trading post 1688 played a critical role in the development of productive forces in British North America. First, because this encouraged the growth of slavery on territory that was in need of labor (also contributing This was worthwhile to me for the colonial history of British North America and the Caribbean. In particular, I found the demographics of states during this period useful (they are interspersed throughout the beginning half of the book). Horne argues that the privatization of slave trading post 1688 played a critical role in the development of productive forces in British North America. First, because this encouraged the growth of slavery on territory that was in need of labor (also contributing to the ability to expropriate land from indigenous Americans). Second, because as this growth made the demographics of slavery in the Caribbean untenable, it encouraged movement by planters from the Caribbean to North America--further consolidating economic power in the latter. Further, Horne argues that the instability inherent in the demographics of slavery throughout this region (North America and the Caribbean) contributed to violent instability in the form of slave insurrections. This, in turn, contributed to the (rational) fear of slaves rising to murder white settlers (often in league with the indigenous and other European powers: France and Spain). With this background, Horne points to the governor of Virginia's proclamation to free slaves that sided with London during the tumult leading up to 1776 (and, earlier, the Somerset case in London which put Britain's tendency towards abolition in stark relief) as disproportionately contributing towards the unification and intensification of white settlers against British rule. This is certainly not a light read, and Horne does not write for a wide audience--his language is often wordy and dense. He also has a terrible habit of using the nicknames of states (e.g., "The Palmetto State"). Nonetheless, it's an excellent book if you don't need your hand held and you are interested in the subject.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    Historian Gerald Horne's Counter-Revolution of 1776 tells the story of black slaves in America and in service of the American colonies from, roughly, the 17th century until the independence of the country from England. Horne goes to show how American independence was a major loss for the slaves. One of the main reasons was because England was actually moving away from slavery and didn't like the fact that the American colonies were beginning to rely upon slave labor. After the American independe Historian Gerald Horne's Counter-Revolution of 1776 tells the story of black slaves in America and in service of the American colonies from, roughly, the 17th century until the independence of the country from England. Horne goes to show how American independence was a major loss for the slaves. One of the main reasons was because England was actually moving away from slavery and didn't like the fact that the American colonies were beginning to rely upon slave labor. After the American independence, the U.S. was still relying upon slave labor, and not just below the Mason-Dixon Line. New York, Rhode Island, and other Northern states had so much slave labor that they were trying to expedite as many Europeans to their states as soon as possible to offset the sheer number of slaves. There were also several slave revolts throughout the colonies and the newly-declared states, black people trying to protest to get their freedom. Highly recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bradley

    Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote - https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re... The Counter-revolution of 1776 by Gerald Horne I read the Counter-Revolution of 1776 by Gerald Horne at the same time that I read "No Property in Man" by Sean Wilentz. Two books make first rate bookends for the subject. The former deals with the influence slavery on politics in the American colonies up to 1776 and the latter takes up the same subject from the Constitutional Convention of 1789 up to the Civil War Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote - https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re... The Counter-revolution of 1776 by Gerald Horne I read the Counter-Revolution of 1776 by Gerald Horne at the same time that I read "No Property in Man" by Sean Wilentz. Two books make first rate bookends for the subject. The former deals with the influence slavery on politics in the American colonies up to 1776 and the latter takes up the same subject from the Constitutional Convention of 1789 up to the Civil War. Both books essentially deal with the world of ideas relative to slavery and politics. Horne's book is more Manichean and, at bottom, anti-American. Willentz' book more properly shows the ambiguities of history and how those ambiguities play out over time. For Horne, the American Revolution was fundamentally and predominately a reaction by American slave-owners to prevent England from abolishing or restricting their peculiar property. From the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, Americans found themselves in a self-created bind. They had been importing huge numbers of angry and rebellious Africans who presented an "intestinal" fifth column. This fifth column was ever-present for exploitation by the Catholic powers of France and Spain. Horne is very good at providing the details on the quandaries that Americans found themselves in. The slave-holding South was threatened in particular by Spanish Florida. Catholic Spain offered freedom to American slaves, who might then be armed for raids into South Carolina and Georgia. In many American colonies, African slaves outnumbered the white population. In other colonies, they were a non-trivial part of the population who could strike blows against their enslavers. In 1712, New York was subjected to a spate of slave-caused arson. In other colonies, slaves fled, poisoned or murdered settlers. In British Jamaica, several hundred Africans had fled to the mountains and formed a society free from Britain. The answer to the quandary was to input more whites, but the other part of the quandary was anti-Catholicism. Catholics also represented a potential fifth column that could be exploited by the Catholic powers. Not for nothing, it was Catholic Spain in Florida threatening the South, and Catholic France in Quebec threatening New England. All that ended in 1762, when Britain conquered Florida and Quebec. Britain then attempted to impose taxes on slaves, restrict commerce and prevent westward immigration. According to Horne, Britain was moving in the direction of abolition as a way of dealing with its slave problem in the Carribean. Horne argues that the American Revolution was enabled by the freedom that was given by British victory in the Seven Years War but was sealed in 1772 by Justice Mansfield in Somerset's Case. In Somerset's Case, Mansfield ruled that because the British metropolis did not have laws establishing slavery, any slaves brought to Britain were automatically free. According to Horne, Americans read this decision as an indication that Britain could and would move to free their slaves. Ultimately, the Revolution was secured by the proclamation of Virginia Governor Lord Dunsmore in November of 1775 to free slaves and employ them as soldiers against the Americans. The threat of servile insurrection drove moderate Americans into the arms of the Revolution. Horne notes that Lord Dunsmore deserves to be known as a founding father of the Revolution. All in all, I found this book to be fascinating and well-written. Horne is a good prose stylist who fashions some striking prose. I also think that he has basically made a case for understanding the American Revolution through the lens of slavery politics. However, this book has its problems. First, Horne is repetitive. We are treated to the same incidents over and over again, sometimes within paragraphs. At times, I thought that Horne might be making up for the lack of examples in his case by reiterating the examples he had. Second, Horne may be overstating his case. For all his talk about "angry" Africans and "armed Africans," actual slave rebellions were small and few. The vaunted Stono Rebellions involved 15 to 30 slaves and was put down within days. I am sure that Africans were angry. I am sure that colonists feared slave rebellion, but I have to wonder why there weren't more and bigger slave rebellions. Might it be the case that the militarization of slave societies was effective? Could that fact have played a role in the Revolution? We don't know because it wasn't discussed. Third, Horne has a Manichaean view of the subject. Everything is about slavery and everything is subordinated to slavery. In that regard he makes all "whites" pro-slavery. I doubt that this is the case since within 20 years, the North would emancipate its slaves and its representatives would be fighting against slavery in principle. The subsequent events suggest that things were more complicated than Horne allows. Fourth, at the end, Horne lapses into anachronistic and doctrinaire leftism. America is described as a country with institutionalized racism that has always been counter-revolutionary in opposing revolutions in Vietnam and Iran. This is just not a good look for a book purporting to be history. Nonetheless, Horne's book does provide a useful foundation for Wilentz's book, which does demonstrate that history is the result of often divergent and opposed goals.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Aune

    The book examines the fact that the more radical sects of the Revolution were abandoned for a fairly conservative movement that meant to protect North American economic interests rather than any sort of typical revolutionary agenda. It was a very good , well researched read, but I wish the author looked more at the dismay felt by the many poor , young radicals that first joined the Revolution only to have their plans and agenda scrapped.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steven Fake

    Stimulating thesis and lots of good info, even if I suspect the central theme overreaches a bit and, in its maximal form, probably doesn't withstand scrutiny. Those who don't have much patience for historical preliminary context in repetitive detail may want to skip straight to the last chapter or two.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    According to Gerald Horne, prolific historian of settler colonialism and African history, the United States of America was not inevitable. Nor was it particularly a positive development for enslaved Africans. While this might come as a surprise for some, if you've read Horne's work, it shouldn't. The Counter-Revolution of 1776 argues that the American colonists' revolt against the British Crown in 1776 constituted a counterrevolution against rebellious and impossible to control enslaved Africans According to Gerald Horne, prolific historian of settler colonialism and African history, the United States of America was not inevitable. Nor was it particularly a positive development for enslaved Africans. While this might come as a surprise for some, if you've read Horne's work, it shouldn't. The Counter-Revolution of 1776 argues that the American colonists' revolt against the British Crown in 1776 constituted a counterrevolution against rebellious and impossible to control enslaved Africans. Horne draws a line from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (which resulted in a massive importation of enslaved Africans to the Americas by *private traders*, rather than the Crown's Royal African Company), to the colonists' unilateral declaration of independence in 1776. According to Horne, both the upheaval in 1688 and the rebellion in 1776 were rooted in a desire to maintain the enormous profits from the British trade of enslaved Africans. To be clear, Horne does not argue that the preservation and proliferation of the enslavement of Africans was the *only* cause of 1776. Rather, he notes that the economic and political conflicts between the colonists and the Crown that are more commonly associated with American independence are rooted in the struggle over the profits and industries driven by enslavement, and how such endeavors began to irreconcilably conflict with the Britain's attempts to deal with African rebellion. More specifically, Horne repeatedly cites the chaos that existed within the British colonial empire in the Americas due to the unceasing and fear-inducing rebelliousness of enslaved Africans. Horne meticulously details how intense African resistance to enslavement all over the Americas (particularly in the Caribbean and in South Carolina) created irreconcilable conflicts between the British Crown (whose ultimate goal of preserving its colonial empire was being compromised by constantly having to put down African and Indigenous insurrections, often supported by other European colonial powers), and the settler colonists (who wanted to maximize their "freedoms" to profit from land theft and enslavement as private actors). This conflict ultimately led to 1776, and was an extension of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Interestingly, not only did resistance to enslavement ultimately lead the formation of the United States, it lead to the hardening of "whiteness" as a racial category, as the colonizers needed more European "whites" to emigrate to the Americas to help combat and control the unruly Africans. In short, the formation of the United States comes down to a simple equation: the presence and continued importation of more and more enslaved Africans, led to more and more repression and violent subjugation of those Africans, which further emboldened African resistance and encouraged sabotage from opportunistic colonial rivals (France and Spain). This strained the British colonial project, leading them to eventually gravitate towards abolitionist sentiments and policy, thereby infuriating the colonists. This is a groundbreaking book because it explodes the myth-making that is America's origin story. This is a nation founded in "white" supremacy and is a direct product of a desire to suppress resistance to enslavement and genocide.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Seymour Millen

    As Horne notes at the end of this book, the American revolution has escaped a great deal of the criticism afforded to almost every other revolution. I suspect this is simply American exceptionalism, although in this case afforded a great deal of rationalisation, like Arendt's claim that America lacked the “spectacle of human misery” or the “haunting voices of abject poverty,” so the founding fathers had no need to devote themselves to anything other than the ideals of the enlightenment. I confes As Horne notes at the end of this book, the American revolution has escaped a great deal of the criticism afforded to almost every other revolution. I suspect this is simply American exceptionalism, although in this case afforded a great deal of rationalisation, like Arendt's claim that America lacked the “spectacle of human misery” or the “haunting voices of abject poverty,” so the founding fathers had no need to devote themselves to anything other than the ideals of the enlightenment. I confess I read this book hoping to find something confirming my belief that this was absolute BS. Horne's book is not as spitefully reasoned as I am, but provides a convincing narrative that the American revolution was motivated distally by the slave industry, and proximally by a fear of abolition in Britain spreading across the Atlantic. A particular strength of Horne's Marxist analysis is the attention paid to the web of contradictions and tendencies playing out in the Americas of this time, and how they account for the key developments as well as the possibilities of each stage: metropole vs colony, colonists vs their rivals, Africans vs Europeans, natives vs settlers, etc. The growing and restive African slave population in the early English colonies was easy to exploit by imperial rivals, the French and Spanish, and religious, national, and ethnic divisions amongst colonists were too prominent for emerging 'whiteness' to countervail this trend. But after the apparent English victory over Spain and France in the Seven Years War, the divisions between slaves and masters came to the fore. Abolitionism and the need for loyal redcoats pushed Britain away from America; trade with Britain's rivals and the 'black terror' induced by slave revolts drove America to independence to save its slave economy. In this light, popular explanations of the revolution are all reinterpreted. Protests against taxation, the trial of Americans in London, and trade blockades all had aspects deeply implicated in slavery. The founding fathers, of course, were slaveowners, and this fact is not incidental, but perfectly coherent in Horne's thesis. Enlightenment ideals of freedom of worship, and the equality of all men, here are demonstrated to be part of a strategy to forge a white unity amongst Catholics, protestants, French and English, in the face of a growing and increasingly organised slave population. The American Revolution then appears not as a heroic anomaly amongst other revolutions, but a counter-revolution to the abolitionist movement, and links it more coherently to the American civil war: as Gerald Horne points out, it is easy to see why the confederacy viewed its project of maintaining slavery against the wishes of a metropole to be a continuation of the ideals of the founding fathers. Overall I'd recommend this book, though as other reviews note it's a slow read. The points are not so much reiterated as laid out in advance, then backed up with copious amounts of evidence, and gradually traced in their development. It's worthwhile to stick with it, even when you can see where Horne is going with his argument much earlier on.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    After just the prologue and intro, I was already riveted and fascinated by the ideas and interpretations based on extensive research reaching back before 1776 and beyond the borders of the 13 colonies. I’ve been grappling with the question of slavery’s place in the Revolution and development of the US post-independence, and was fascinated to see the sense Horne made of it based on his wide-angle, counter-hegemonic lens. It was such a revelation--and I thought I was well-educated about slavery and After just the prologue and intro, I was already riveted and fascinated by the ideas and interpretations based on extensive research reaching back before 1776 and beyond the borders of the 13 colonies. I’ve been grappling with the question of slavery’s place in the Revolution and development of the US post-independence, and was fascinated to see the sense Horne made of it based on his wide-angle, counter-hegemonic lens. It was such a revelation--and I thought I was well-educated about slavery and about the American Revolution and the early years of the republic, and how they intertwined. Reading Horne's book, I feel profoundly ignorant. His historical scope reaches back to the Glorious Revolution (1688) in England and the privatization--and consequent proliferation--of the slave trade; the French and Spanish colonies and their relationship to African slaves in the British colonies; the Caribbean Island plantations and the violent uprisings of slaves there and their influence on the mainland; the creation of a category of Whiteness meant to paper over religious, ethnic and class differences and possible only in contradistinction with African blackness; and the active, angry, dangerous and continuous rebellions of the Africans themselves, sometimes in conjunction with the Spanish and/or the French and/or the Indigenous population. Horne leads the reader through first-hand accounts and the debates and news of the day to show how London's fear of African insurrection led them on a path towards abolition while leading the American colonists to double-down on the lucrative slave trade. But the enslavement of the Africans was a two-edged sword--the more Africans were in the colonies, the more the white colonists feared them. Meanwhile, London's push towards abolition (motivated in great part on the same fear) pushed the North American colonists further towards revolution, or as Horne defines it, vis a vis the Africans, a counter-revolution. Horne traces the ripples of the revolution and the African role in it through to the current racism in our society, arguing persuasively that you cannot understand it fully until you see it in its full context in the long view of history. The Counter-Revolution of 1776 is fascinating, well-researched, funny, insightful, accessible and a constant challenge of our frame of reference about the founding of the US.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Henry Olivas

    As others have pointed out on this forum, Dr. Horne's occasionally esoteric word choices, odd sentence structure, repetitiveness and non-linear timeline tend to make parts of this book a struggle. Strange, because Dr. Horne, who's a frequent guest on Pacifica radio, is much more straightforward when on-air. That said, this fascinating book is still worth the read. Indeed, it helped to confirm what I've long suspected: that the so-called "Founding Fathers" were spectacular hypocrites for all thei As others have pointed out on this forum, Dr. Horne's occasionally esoteric word choices, odd sentence structure, repetitiveness and non-linear timeline tend to make parts of this book a struggle. Strange, because Dr. Horne, who's a frequent guest on Pacifica radio, is much more straightforward when on-air. That said, this fascinating book is still worth the read. Indeed, it helped to confirm what I've long suspected: that the so-called "Founding Fathers" were spectacular hypocrites for all their talk of "freedom" and "liberty" while maintaining their wealth as entrenched slave-owners. Long ago, a joke in MAD Magazine made quite an impression on my young mind. It has George Washington give a rousing speech on liberty though he needs to leave suddenly because "one of his slaves is missing". In "The Counter-Revolution of 1776" the events leading up to that situation are put into context. We're shown that slave revolts were much more widespread than one might imagine throughout the American continent and Caribbean. Also the complex imperial machinations of the British, Spanish and French colonizers created a situation where slavery was both blessing and curse to the various plantation owners, merchants and military people involved. When Britain began to move toward abolition as a way of better competing with the Spanish, the colonist elites took this as an affront to THEIR liberty, which goes a long way towards explaining their seemingly contradictory attitudes ... and by extension, race relations in the U.S. to this very day. Despite his writing style, Dr. Horne paints a picture that puts the events that caused the American Revolution into a more extensive and logical context than I'm used to reading. He provides copious footnotes, which in some cases I found ideal when encountering a difficult passage. In fact, many of the books he references seem worth seeking out in and of themselves.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Grion Filho

    Have some conflicting thoughts on this one. For one I absolutely loved the main argument from this book: that the war for British north american independence was a counter-revolution wanting to maintain the institution of slavery. It is smart, well research, and beautifully defended by Horne. On the other hand, I absolutely hated his writing. This book suffers from academia exclusionary writing. Horne makes his sentences so complicated and hard to understand for absolutely no reason other than f Have some conflicting thoughts on this one. For one I absolutely loved the main argument from this book: that the war for British north american independence was a counter-revolution wanting to maintain the institution of slavery. It is smart, well research, and beautifully defended by Horne. On the other hand, I absolutely hated his writing. This book suffers from academia exclusionary writing. Horne makes his sentences so complicated and hard to understand for absolutely no reason other than for it to fall in line with what's considered "academic writing". As someone who has been having to write some academic papers myself, the culture of purposely complicating simple ideas in order to sound smarter is everywhere in academia and I hate it so much it physically hurts. All it does is deepen the chasm of elitism within academic study and the idea that if youre poor or dont know fancy language then you don't belong in the field. Because of this my experience with the book was severely compromised. I really wanted to love it, but having to go over the same 7 line sentence over and over again just to realize it could have been written much simpler really frustrated me. In the end, I liked the book and am glad I kept going with it. I'd recommend it solely for the argument but thats where the recommendations end unfortunately.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Webb

    If I was rating this text purely based on its merits as a historical argument, then it would likely rate at least a 4, if not a 5. Horne's slave-centric revision to the origins of the American Revolution is well-argued and exhaustively footnoted (~400 page text; it includes ~150 pages of footnotes). The main problem for me comes in form that it takes; if there was ever a text that needed an editor with an eye toward mass distribution this is it. I hold a graduate degree in History and am used to If I was rating this text purely based on its merits as a historical argument, then it would likely rate at least a 4, if not a 5. Horne's slave-centric revision to the origins of the American Revolution is well-argued and exhaustively footnoted (~400 page text; it includes ~150 pages of footnotes). The main problem for me comes in form that it takes; if there was ever a text that needed an editor with an eye toward mass distribution this is it. I hold a graduate degree in History and am used to reading dense texts, for fun, and I found the style here off-putting. Sentences are dense here like they are in philosophical texts and often require second and third passes. This wouldn't bother me, but the fact is that the style alone will be enough to keep this a very niche read, and that is a shame because I would love to see this (or at least the thesis presented here) as assigned reading and discussion for every individual who has to teach American History in our public schools. Not because I think the argument here is exhaustive or can stand in isolation, but it is an important corrective that contextualizes the American colonial experience with slavery and how that was a critical element of the revolt of 1776.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sara Shocks

    3.5/5 stars Very thorough accounting of the tensions caused by slavery in the U.S. (back when they were British colonies, that is) -- Horne has laid out some convincing arguments that London's movements away from slavery were the real impetus for the colonies to seek independence. In particular, I found the geopolitical concerns regarding the Spanish and French interesting. However, fair warning: this book was clearly intended for a historian audience. On top of extensive citations (which are nece 3.5/5 stars Very thorough accounting of the tensions caused by slavery in the U.S. (back when they were British colonies, that is) -- Horne has laid out some convincing arguments that London's movements away from slavery were the real impetus for the colonies to seek independence. In particular, I found the geopolitical concerns regarding the Spanish and French interesting. However, fair warning: this book was clearly intended for a historian audience. On top of extensive citations (which are necessary for making such an argument, of course), Horne also uses what I'd call an elevated register of diction throughout the book, so it's not going to appeal to a popular audience. (That said, I did like his frequent use of the verb "foment.") The information in this book is ripe for some kind of popular audience treatment, because history classes should absolutely be addressing the events leading up to 1776 with more nuance. (That said, I should really see the 2013 film Belle, which gets into Lord Mansfield's personal background and how that may have impacted his ruling in the Somerset case off 1772.)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kaishek

    Fantastic historiography with a compelling thesis, that the rationale behind the American Revolution was a counter-revolution against the stirrings of slavery abolition. I'd really recommend the first and last few chapters. As the book goes on, the author has a tendency to repeat himself...a lot. Much of the writing boils down to textual "quoting like this" that tries to naturally "weave the source material" into the paragraph but is a "little overdone" and reminds me of my own research from coll Fantastic historiography with a compelling thesis, that the rationale behind the American Revolution was a counter-revolution against the stirrings of slavery abolition. I'd really recommend the first and last few chapters. As the book goes on, the author has a tendency to repeat himself...a lot. Much of the writing boils down to textual "quoting like this" that tries to naturally "weave the source material" into the paragraph but is a "little overdone" and reminds me of my own research from college. So at times, especially in the middle chapters, the material becomes a bit muddled and repetitive. That being said, dry this book is not. It is positively dripping with the author's contempt for the white settlers, slaveholding class, and hypocritical champions of American liberty. It hammers home with a Home Depot's worth of hammers the ever present fear of slave insurrection, rebellion, resistance, and settlers paranoia of such, linking it to not only the war of 1776 but the rise of racism and the identity of whiteness. It is a successful polemic against our own national triumphalism.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    A great counter-narrative to the rise of rebellion that led to the formation of the United States. Gives a unique insight into how the slave economies of the Carribbean and the competing forces in the Americas between Britain, Spain and France led to growing fear of slave rebellions on the mainland. The forces that led to the Revolution, Horne argues effectively, was undergirded by a deep fear of being subjugated by imported Africans, many of whom were being conscripted by the English military a A great counter-narrative to the rise of rebellion that led to the formation of the United States. Gives a unique insight into how the slave economies of the Carribbean and the competing forces in the Americas between Britain, Spain and France led to growing fear of slave rebellions on the mainland. The forces that led to the Revolution, Horne argues effectively, was undergirded by a deep fear of being subjugated by imported Africans, many of whom were being conscripted by the English military and had already proven themselves effective fighting for the Spanish. England's move toward abolition after the Somerset v Stewart case stoked fears of both abolition in the mainland and the use of conscripted African forces to put down growing settler rebellions. This lead to a move in the mainland toward defining the demographic of whiteness (regardless of whether it was a catholic, protestant, German or Irish whiteness) that would congeal as a motivating force to ensure continued enslavement and subjection of black people in the United States.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul Lunger

    With "The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America", Gerald Horne takes we the reader on a rather unique look at just how the history of slavery in the New World actually became a principal on the direction the US would take in the American Revolution. By going through & examining the origins via the Caribbean as well as into era of the American Revolution, Horne sets the stage & makes a very decent case for the reasons why the institution surv With "The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America", Gerald Horne takes we the reader on a rather unique look at just how the history of slavery in the New World actually became a principal on the direction the US would take in the American Revolution. By going through & examining the origins via the Caribbean as well as into era of the American Revolution, Horne sets the stage & makes a very decent case for the reasons why the institution survived the events of American Independence. The book itself is actually a relatively easy read as well as a fascinating one that gives we the reader a good look at those events as well as why the founding fathers left things the way they were.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    An amazing detailed history of how this place called North America came to be. Clearly the British Royal African Company were the puppet master of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and profited immensely from human trafficking and racism. And there was push-back. I didn't know that the reason slavery came to North America, aside from raw greed, was because there were so many slave revolts in the Caribbean. On the islands, they figured slaves had no where to run but they were wrong about that. Jamai An amazing detailed history of how this place called North America came to be. Clearly the British Royal African Company were the puppet master of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and profited immensely from human trafficking and racism. And there was push-back. I didn't know that the reason slavery came to North America, aside from raw greed, was because there were so many slave revolts in the Caribbean. On the islands, they figured slaves had no where to run but they were wrong about that. Jamaica and Antigua showed fierce resistance and from what I have read, so far, the treatment of slaves on the islands was perverse and utterly heartless.The Haitian people sent Napoleon packing and successfully overthrew slavery.

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