Two Cheers for the Nation State: An American Revolution for the Revolting United States

Free Public Lecture

Two Cheers for the Nation State: An American Revolution for the Revolting United States


Over the last several decades, new historians of the American Revolution have demonstrated that the war for sovereignty in North America in 1776-1783 was far broader than the creation of the United States, and that the young United States fell far short, in many and multiplying ways, of the soaring ideals expressed in its founding declaration. These interpretive shifts have redrawn the geography, chronology, demography and ideology of the revolutionary era, producing important correctives to scholarly and public histories alike. With full appreciation for that work, some of which is Professor Kamensky's own, this talk takes a contrarian tack, exploring unintended consequences of recent historiographical turns for the civic health of the United States.

Have we thrown out the national baby with the myth-making bathwater? And if so, to what effect? While scholars remain rightly suspicious of the search for a usable past, this lecture seeks to enlist the energies of recent scholarship to fashion a useful – and true – American Revolution, of service to citizens struggling to knit up the tattered fabric of an ageing and vulnerable republic.

Professor Jane Kamensky is Professor of History at Harvard & Macgeorge Visiting Speaker, the University of Melbourne. Supported by the Macgeorge Bequest.

Image: [London]: Pubd by J. Barrow White Lion Bull Stairs Surry side Black Friars Bridge, 1783 Jany 16th. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


  • Professor Jane Kamensky
    Professor Jane Kamensky, Professor of History