The Common Cause: Race, Nation, and the Consequences of Unity in the American Revolution, a talk by Dr. Robert Parkinson
Date: 6:00pm EDT October 7, 2013
“The Common Cause: Race, Nation, and the Consequences of Unity in the American Revolution,” a new book project from Shepherd University history professor Robert Parkinson, reflects on how the patriots generated and managed colonial outrage toward the British in order to mobilize support for war by appealing to colonial racial prejudices. On one hand the “common cause” appeal was about liberty and self-determination. On the other, though, it was also about defending those abstract concepts from agents of tyranny. Patriot publicists and political leaders worked assiduously to inform the public that those agents did not only wear red coats: the King’s “proxies”—Indians, resistant slaves, loyalists, and German mercenaries—were just as dangerous to American freedom. This dark side of the patriot appeal, steeped as it was in fear, violence, and xenophobia at the founding of a new republican regime based on voluntary citizenship, had significant legacies for the future of race relations in the United States.
Parkinson is a tenured associate professor of history at Shepherd and the first recipient of the Ray and Madeline Johnston Endowed Chair in American History. The author of a number of scholarly essays and articles about the Revolution and the Founding Fathers, Parkinson now studies the racial differences that emerged from the Revolution and the way war and politics played a role in that emergence in “The Common Cause: Race, Nation, and the Consequences of Unity in the American Revolution.” The manuscript is Parkinson’s first and was published by the North Carolina Press, whose books have won five Bancroft Prizes, as well as a Pulitzer Prize.