A Sovereign People

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By Carol Berkin. A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism. ISBN 978-0-465-06088-7. Copyright 2017. Hardcover with 307 pages including notes, bibliography, and index.

The momentous story of how George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams navigated the crises of the 1790’s and in the process bound the states into a unified nation. In the decade following the ratification of the Constitution, the republic’s existence was contingent and fragile, challenged by domestic rebellions, foreign interference, and the always-present danger of collapse into mob rule. The nation survived almost entirely due to the actions of the Federalist leadership–George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams. Reacting to successive crises, they extended the power of the federal government and fended off foreign attempts to subvert American sovereignty.

The result of their efforts was a spike in nationalism, as ordinary citizens began to identify with their nation first, their home states second, transforming the states into an enduring nation.

This publication sheds light on historical events highlighted in the Mount Vernon interactive experience, “Be Washington”, specifically the Genet Affair and the Whiskey Rebellion.