American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783–1850

Norton. May 2021. 592p. ISBN 9781324005797. $35. HIST
The newest volume in Taylor’s U.S. history series, after American Revolutions, covers the post-revolutionary period through the Compromise of 1850; it counters widespread beliefs about U.S. geographic expansion. Taylor argues that the colonial push westward was driven by perceived threats to the precarious union—from distant and neighboring governments; Indigenous peoples displaced and attacked by the colonies; free and enslaved Black people; and short-lived republics developed by restive colonists. Taylor underscores the complexity of persistent U.S. instability: fear of these varied groups drove Anglo continental invasion, and each territorial advance increased regional tensions and mistrust, resulting in continual risks of disunion. Racism was an underlying cause of U.S. expansion and insecurity: see, for example, self-interested white Americans who, believing that people of color shouldn’t have their own land, brutally wrested arable territory from Indigenous peoples and non-white immigrants; Southern slaveholders who perpetuated slave labor and feared rebellions by enslaved people; low-income white Southerners’ whose status depended on their ranking above enslaved people; and the North’s bowing to threats of Southern secession because the economy relied on cheap cotton and because, despite Northerners’ theoretical abolitionism, they did not want to have Black neighbors.
VERDICT This insightful and engaging survey is essential reading for scholars as well as casual readers of history.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing