Devising liberty: preserving and creating freedom in the new
republic. Edited by David
Thomas Konig. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995. Pp. xiv+383.
£35.00. ISBN 0-804-72536-5
Benjamin Lincoln and the American revolution. By David B. Mattern.
Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995. Pp. xii+307. $39.95.
The devious Dr. Franklin, colonial agent. Benjamin Franklin's
London. By David T. Morgan. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1996.
Pp. xii+273. $34.95. ISBN 0-865-54525-1
General Richard Montgomery and the American revolution: from redcoat
By Hal T. Shelton. New York: New York University Press, 1994. Pp. xiv+245.
The role of instructive, heroic, and exemplary themes in accounts of
events has a complex history of its own. American independence and its
provide rich examples. Ever since the events themselves, conventional and
accounts have either featured individuals as heroes or role models, or
dwelt on the
struggle for values such as liberty and democracy. These traditions became
rooted in patterns of discourse that academic historians have never been
able to avoid
engaging with them. Countless studies have embodied or responded to some
patriotic or hagiographic purpose, and such concerns to different degrees
works under discussion here. The ‘new’ cultural history, however,
has sparked a fresh interest in the ‘exemplary’ as a cultural
construction in itself, and an increasing number
of scholars are engaged in tracing the creation of image and identity,
memory. All the works here touch on this concern, too, though they fall
embracing the new agenda fully. Taken together, they illustrate the instability
might be called the ‘traditional exemplary’: certainty that
a historical episode or figure
can illustrate an ideal principle or characteristic.