Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation - Winner, Non-Fiction, 1924

The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation
By: Charles Howard McIlwain
The Macmillan Company, 1924

Thank goodness for the rare prize-winning book out there that is less that 200 pages long! I have been a bit overwhelmed, especially in the non-fiction category, with the multi-volume works that won Pulitzers. Fortunately, this book was the exception.

McIlwain belonged to the historical school of thought concerning the Revolution and constitutional conflict that dominated the early twentieth century, although that school was beginning to wane as the progressive historians, who focused on economic motives for the Revolution rather than constitutional, took over. In The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation, he spends a great deal of time attempting to prove his argument that the colonists had constitutional precedents that supported their demand for their rights as Englishmen. McIlwain mainly compares England's constitutional relationship with Ireland to its relationship with the American colonies, but also its relationship with Scotland and several other of Great Britain's imperial holdings.

The argument is interesting, although I wouldn't say the entire book is. I am interested to see how interpretations of the American Revolution evolve over the years through the reading of these Pulitzer winning books.

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