By Albert H. Tillson Jr.
Accommodating Revolutions addresses an issue of lengthy status between historians of eighteenth-century the USA and Virginia -- the level to which inner clash and/or consensus characterised the society of the progressive period. specifically, it emphasizes the advanced and infrequently self-defeating activities and judgements of dissidents and different non-elite teams. via concentrating on a small yet major zone, Tillson elucidates the a number of and interrelated resources of clash that beset progressive Virginia, but additionally explains why finally so little changed.In the Northern Neck -- the six-county component to Virginia's Tidewater mendacity among the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers -- Tillson scrutinizes a filthy rich and robust, yet , planter elite, which integrated such renowned males as George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, Landon Carter, and Robert Carter. in the course of the past due eighteenth and early 19th centuries, the Northern Neck gentry faced not just contradictions in cultural beliefs and behavioral styles inside of their very own lives, but additionally the persistent hostility in their poorer white acquaintances, coming up from a various array of neighborhood monetary and political concerns. those insecurities have been additional intensified by way of adjustments within the procedure of African American slavery and through the transforming into position of Scottish retailers and their Virginia brokers within the advertising and marketing of Chesapeake tobacco. For a time, the upheavals surrounding the battle for American Independence and the approximately contemporaneous upward thrust of bright, biracial evangelical non secular hobbies threatened to extend well known discontent to the purpose of overwhelming the gentry's political authority and cultural hegemony. yet after all, the prevailing order survived primarily intact. partly, this was once as the region's leaders discovered how you can restrict and accommodate threatening advancements and styles of switch, mostly by using conventional social and political appeals that had served them good for many years. but partly it was once additionally simply because usual Northern Neckers -- together with many leaders within the hobbies of wartime and spiritual dissidence -- consciously or unconsciously accommodated themselves to either the styles of monetary swap reworking their global and to the conventional beliefs of the elite, and hence have been not able to articulate or settle for an alternate imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the quarter.
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Extra info for Accommodating revolutions: Virginia's Northern Neck in an Era of Transformations, 1760-1810
The most important factor was probably that grain prices were less volatile. Whatever the ultimate destination of their crop, producers on the Northern Neck and throughout the Chesapeake received payment, or at least knew the prices they would receive, fairly promptly. Much of the grain was bought outright by merchants from Alexandria, Baltimore, or elsewhere, or by local 37 Accom modat i ng R e volu t ions planter-entrepreneurs like Carter. If these men purchased on credit, at least the amount of the sale was quickly established.
And less than a month before the 1769 letter informing his brother of Russell’s affi rmation of his fi nancial reliability, Walter had written Thomas of another, less comforting incident. 48 In several ways, the Northern Neck gentry tried to explain these contradictions between their words and deeds, to themselves and—they hoped—to others. Many tried to compare themselves favorably with other debtors. 49 Similarly, they contrasted their own good motives for obtaining credit with those of other planters whose fi nancial problems they att ributed to frivolous expenditures.
As men of prominence, the gentry believed they should serve their communities through leadership in public life. Such leadership should be motivated, they thought, by a sense of civic obligation rather than by individual or factional self-interest. Consequently, those who held or sought office emphasized the sacrifices they had made and would make. 55 27 Accom modat i ng R e volu t ions When the body of freeholders was empowered to select leaders, the gentry believed that candidates should rely upon public perceptions of their superior merits, and should not campaign actively or make specific pledges and concessions to win popu lar support.