By Albert H. Tillson Jr.
Accommodating Revolutions addresses an argument of lengthy status between historians of eighteenth-century the US and Virginia―the quantity to which inner clash and/or consensus characterised the society of the progressive period. particularly, it emphasizes the complicated and infrequently self-defeating activities and judgements of dissidents and different non-elite teams. through targeting a small yet major quarter, Tillson elucidates the a number of and interrelated assets of clash that beset innovative Virginia, but additionally explains why finally so little changed.
In the Northern Neck―the six-county element of Virginia's Tidewater mendacity among the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers―Tillson scrutinizes a prosperous and strong, yet afflicted, planter elite, which incorporated such trendy males as George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, Landon Carter, and Robert Carter. in the course of the overdue eighteenth and early 19th centuries, the Northern Neck gentry faced not just contradictions in cultural beliefs and behavioral styles inside their very own lives, but additionally the continual hostility in their poorer white friends, coming up from a various array of neighborhood monetary and political concerns. those insecurities have been additional intensified via alterations within the process of African American slavery and by way of the growing to be position of Scottish retailers and their Virginia brokers within the advertising and marketing of Chesapeake tobacco. For a time, the upheavals surrounding the conflict for American Independence and the approximately contemporaneous upward thrust of bright, biracial evangelical spiritual events threatened to extend renowned discontent to the purpose of overwhelming the gentry's political authority and cultural hegemony. yet in spite of everything, the present order survived primarily intact. partially, this was once as the region's leaders discovered how you can restrict and accommodate threatening advancements and styles of swap, principally by using conventional social and political appeals that had served them good for many years. but partially it used to be additionally simply because traditional Northern Neckers―including many leaders within the routine of wartime and non secular dissidence―consciously or unconsciously accommodated themselves to either the styles of financial switch reworking their global and to the normal beliefs of the elite, and therefore have been not able to articulate or settle for an alternate imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the region.
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Extra info for Accommodating Revolutions: Virginia's Northern Neck in an Era of Transformations, 1760-1810
In some measure, individual planters and merchants rhetorically exploited this cultural ambivalence by contrasting the conduct of those whom they depicted as followers of the higher standard of friendship and the lower one of economic self-interest. ” Another brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee, expressed himself more subtly in a letter of December 4, 1770. In earlier letters, Francis and William had discussed methods for dealing with the unreliability and unreasonable demands of their brother, Philip Ludwell Lee, and their cousin, Richard “Squire” Lee.
107 As he began his tobacco-marketing business in London in 1769, Lee bitterly criticized both the shortsightedness of Virginia planters and the duplicity of English merchants. By pushing merchants for lower fees and commission rates, Lee charged, planters simply encouraged them to make up their losses by hidden additions to the prices of consumer goods and other dishonest means. Such concealed charges were far worse and far harder to measure than were fair and open rates. The planters’ chronic indebtedness also hurt both themselves and their creditors, as merchants had to charge planters directly or indirectly for the loans they extended them.
Like other Northern Neck planters, Carter recognized the advantages of wheat over tobacco production, and even before moving back to Westmoreland County from Williamsburg in 36 A Troubled Gentry 1772, he had begun to convert substantial amounts of wheat into flour and bread for sale locally, to ocean-going vessels, and in overseas markets. Carter employed a variety of tactics to ensure an adequate grain supply for the mill. Often he used agents in other regions to make purchases for him. Robert Prentis and David Patterson served in this capacity on the James River in 1772 and 1773, respectively.