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Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  294 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In this provocative reinterpretation of one of the best-known events in American history, Woody Holton shows that when Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other elite Virginians joined their peers from other colonies in declaring independence from Britain, they acted partly in response to grassroots rebellions against their own rule.

The Virginia gentry's efforts to sh
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by University of North Carolina Press
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Mathew Powers
I'm surprised this book is receiving such high marks. There are several contradictions within this book and all too often he changes his mind on the connections between inter-colonial aspects of the revolution. On the one hand, he is adamant about how things going on in Massachusetts do not apply to Virginia (which I agree with!). On the other hand, he asserts that the gentry in Virginia needing to seize control of their government against fears of greater control and power from the lower classe ...more
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

I would have given this book 5 stars if the subject were one I was more interested in and the book was a bit more clearly written (he's inconsistent in the way he presents his arguments; the way he deals with groups and presents them in relation to the gentry could have been organized better). However, it was great. The author doesn't treat colonists as one monolithic entity, nor does he separate them out merely by region (although in the Epilogue he does address some of those differences betwee
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Holton is awesome! He teaches at the University of South Carolina. Also, he's the brother of the wife of US Senator Kaine, and the son of former VA governor Linwood Holton. Neat stuff.
As a writer of history - a historian - he's a lot of fun. He took what I thought was the way things were, a story neatly laid out on a table, and he flipped the table in the air. As the title indicates, Holton argued that the Founders were not actually interested in revolting against Britain. They were "forced" int
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterful! Expands the neo-progressive take on the revolutionary period to Virginia.
Johnny Zagrodnik
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found Holton to be very readable and I enjoy his progressive perspective on the causes of the American Revolution in Virginia.
Richard Subber
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holton offers a backstory to the drive by Virginia's elite political leaders to support rebellion against England and the Declaration of Independence. He argues that Indians, slaves, merchants and small farmers, each in their own sphere, exerted influence on Washington, Jefferson and other Virginia leaders that helped to motivate their advocacy for independence.
Holton provides rich detail as he explores the obvious and not-so-obvious relationships of these interest groups, and as he describes th
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just re-read this book for one of my classes. I don't usually take the time to put books like this up on this site, but I thought since I paid such close attention to it I would. I really love his chapter on the Dunmore Proclamation. Most importantly, I love how he de-mystifies the founding generation in American history. He shows that the Revolutionary generation were moved as much by their personal stake in the economy and their desire to preserve their social status as political ideas. My s ...more
Phil Ford
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dry, but very informative perspective of the politics of the Revolutionary War era from the common peoples point of view in Virginia. Holton has managed to create an important and previously unrepresented piece of history. The most intriguing section to me was about Lord Dunmore and his emancipation of the slaves if they fought for Britain and the "coincidental" stealing of the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg. Holton provides alternative motive, more of a symbolic (and threatening) g ...more
Roy Rogers
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fantastic book. glad i finally got to read it in its entirety.

largely succeeds in reviving and revising the "progressive" interpretation (social divisions matter!) of the origins of the american revolution. stresses the most important elements of the coming of the revolution: the multiplicity of causal factors, division among patriots and the contingency of the revolutionary saga.

holton's prose is clear, even if at moments his argument is ham-fisted.
Margaret Carmel
I was assigned this book for my American History class. I liked how it showed another perspective on the common story of the American Revolution. Lots of interesting stories and background information. It was quite dry, but overall the information was very valuable and changed how I view historical events that I thought I knew.
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good progressive history of the coming of the American Revolution that signals the important (if unintended) impacts of groups of Native Americans, endebted colonists, and enslaved people in placing a wedge between colonial revolutionaries and British loyalists.
Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great look at the revolutionary war in Virginia! New perspective that is thoroughly argued. It challenges the traditional beliefs and creates a voice for grassroots as well as other forgotten players. Very interesting!
reads dificult at times, important history missing form other narratives
An okay book in general.
Andee Nero
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I thought this would be a book about Indians, poor whites and slaves, but it was really another book about white male anxiety. Which is fine. It makes the argument easy to buy.
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of the best books on the myriad of factors besides patriotism that motivated the American revolutionaries.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great history of Virginia's move towards independence that takes a close look at the factors and people who pushed the state towards war.
Michael Maleski
Great alternate view of historical "facts" surrounding the founding fathers, great read for anyone interested in American historical/political non-fiction
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Examines whether our "founding fathers" became the leaders of fledgling America by choice, or because they had little choice.
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
i'm a footnote in this book! woody was my prof. when he was writing it and references one of my papers. naturally i think it's a fabulous book!
Laura Kamoie
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