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The New Nation: A History of the United States During the Confederation, 1781-89

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THIS is the definitive account of the first years of the United States. The period is important if only because during it men debated publicly and violently the question of whether or not people could govern themselves. But beyond that, the advocates of world government today continually turn to this remarkable period for guidance and illumination. It is imperative, then, THIS is the definitive account of the first years of the United States. The period is important if only because during it men debated publicly and violently the question of whether or not people could govern themselves. But beyond that, the advocates of world government today continually turn to this remarkable period for guidance and illumination. It is imperative, then, to have this record right. Dr. Jensen is able to rectify many serious misconceptions, especially those propagated by John Fiske, whose work he considers of no value as either history or example. Dr. John A. Krout, Dean of the Graduate Faculties of Columbia University, says, "The New Nation is the soundest account that has so far been written of the Confederation period. It is based on a remarkably wide range of source materials, many of them never before carefully examined. Despite its heavy load of factual data, its chief merit lies in its provocative interpretations and its judicious treatment of highly controversial subjects. The author has made a 'significant contribution' to our understanding of American history, in the best sense of that much overworked phrase."


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THIS is the definitive account of the first years of the United States. The period is important if only because during it men debated publicly and violently the question of whether or not people could govern themselves. But beyond that, the advocates of world government today continually turn to this remarkable period for guidance and illumination. It is imperative, then, THIS is the definitive account of the first years of the United States. The period is important if only because during it men debated publicly and violently the question of whether or not people could govern themselves. But beyond that, the advocates of world government today continually turn to this remarkable period for guidance and illumination. It is imperative, then, to have this record right. Dr. Jensen is able to rectify many serious misconceptions, especially those propagated by John Fiske, whose work he considers of no value as either history or example. Dr. John A. Krout, Dean of the Graduate Faculties of Columbia University, says, "The New Nation is the soundest account that has so far been written of the Confederation period. It is based on a remarkably wide range of source materials, many of them never before carefully examined. Despite its heavy load of factual data, its chief merit lies in its provocative interpretations and its judicious treatment of highly controversial subjects. The author has made a 'significant contribution' to our understanding of American history, in the best sense of that much overworked phrase."

37 review for The New Nation: A History of the United States During the Confederation, 1781-89

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stan Lanier

    To counter the conventional telling that the history of the US under the Articles of Confederation was a period of weak government which the Constitutional Convention of 1787 fixed, Merrill Jensen fleshes out the claims made in his earlier work, The Articles of Confederation, that the period between 1781 and 1789 was one of productive government action and of fierce political battle between the interests that wanted a strong, central government and those that wanted political power to reside mor To counter the conventional telling that the history of the US under the Articles of Confederation was a period of weak government which the Constitutional Convention of 1787 fixed, Merrill Jensen fleshes out the claims made in his earlier work, The Articles of Confederation, that the period between 1781 and 1789 was one of productive government action and of fierce political battle between the interests that wanted a strong, central government and those that wanted political power to reside more dominantly in the individual states. The latter he calls federalists and the former are labelled nationalists. Thus, the Federalist Papers are, for Merrill, the propaganda of those with nationalist interests at heart. The federalists are those who advocate democracy; the nationalists advocate a republican form of government. Jensen makes clear this battle is one of political economy and Jensen gives an informative analysis for those of us who realize we know very little about this period in our nation's history. In the days of Occupy Wall Street and rhetoric of the 1% and the other 99%, this telling fits right into much of our non-establishment political sturm und drung. To round out an understanding of this period,some of the works of Gordon S. Wood and Jack N. Rakove should be consulted. Jensen's book was published, originally, in 1950.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    Eye-opening account of post-Revolution, pre-Constitution America. We've all heard "the story." The story is that the central government established by the Articles of Confederation was so ineffective that it had to be scrapped, and the U.S. Constitution just had to be written. The story may not be a total fairy tale, but, one realizes after reading this well-researched book, is that that version of events is selective and partisan. Partisan? But they didn't have political parties back then, right? Eye-opening account of post-Revolution, pre-Constitution America. We've all heard "the story." The story is that the central government established by the Articles of Confederation was so ineffective that it had to be scrapped, and the U.S. Constitution just had to be written. The story may not be a total fairy tale, but, one realizes after reading this well-researched book, is that that version of events is selective and partisan. Partisan? But they didn't have political parties back then, right? Well, yes they did. Both at the state level and the national level. In the 1780s, there were "nationalists" and "federalists." The nationalists were those for a stronger, centralized government than the Articles of Confederation originally established. The federalists, or "true federalists," were (somewhat confusingly) the pre-cursors of the anti-federalists of the late 1700s and early 1800s. They believed in retaining the state prerogatives of the Articles of Confederation and the limits on central power, although they demonstrated a willingness to make improvements to the viability of the national government by passing significant legislation and amendments to the Articles of Confederation. The nationalists were men like Washington, Robert Morris, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. The federalists or anti-nationalists of the time were Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, et al. The nationalists are better known today because they won the argument and the anti-nationalists gradually receded into obscurity. One of the things this book reminds us of is that the 1780s were a post-war period. There was a lot of work to be done to get life back to regular order after the war. On the diplomatic front, a peace treaty had to be struck and trade relations with Britain and European powers had to be redefined. There was significant foreign debt and also major domestic debt. It was not, however, a period of economic collapse as some have claimed. Trade expanded following the war. Americans had access to more, not fewer, foreign ports once they were free from the British. Europeans, especially the Dutch, recognized the overall creditworthiness of America and lent large sums of money. Everybody knew that America had vast potential wealth to the west, and even if there were some short-term political and financial blemishes on the country under the Confederate government, America was acknowledged as a good investment. The central government did reasonably well unwinding and settling the accounts of the Revolution. Some people say the Confederacy was totally hamstrung because any major action required agreement of 13 states. But the same was true of the Continental Congress and the 13 colonies, and we still won our independence. The Confederate Congress built up reasonably effective but small bureaucracies to conduct the daily business of government. Various imposts were proposed that would have given Congress a steadier source of income rather than relying solely on requisitions from the states. Some were approved, some were defeated. The process was a bit ugly, but things could work. However, one is left with the impression after reading this that some of the nationalist leaders simply didn't want to amend and improve the Confederate Congress. They wanted to replace it altogether. Eventually, the nationalists had their way and they wrote the Constitution and the history books. Their opinions became the accepted history. The accomplishments of the Confederacy were downplayed and their warts were magnified. This book sometimes suffered from long recitations of events. (State A dealt with issue X this way. State B dealt with X by doing Y. And on and on like that for four pages.) But it's the only book I know that provides such detail about this key moment in history. My Goodreads friend Frank Theising has a standard for judging nonfiction books which is: did it change my way of thinking about the subject? Yes, The New Nation did just that for me. Life in America under the Articles of Confederation had its minuses and pluses to an extent I never appreciated before. But this book is not a glowing reflection on the Articles. It is even-handed and squarely faces the problems of the nation and its politics in the 1780s.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christian Mckenna

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  5. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  6. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Roy

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Nichols

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bog

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joseph burrell

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Cummings

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Santiago

  15. 5 out of 5

    Frank

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Trahan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Raymond

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Silva

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Jamie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pat Reilly

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zach

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt Yates

  27. 4 out of 5

    Damaris Rodriguez

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kvasnička

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve Hager

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  31. 4 out of 5

    Davo Harutyunyan

  32. 5 out of 5

    Gnarly Authenticity .

  33. 5 out of 5

    Chad

  34. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Flusche

  35. 5 out of 5

    David

  36. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  37. 5 out of 5

    Nick Ciggelakis

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