Janus-Faced (American) Revolution

If you are remotely curious about what the heck this means, do go and read a paper I wrote under this rubric a while ago, when I could write extremely fascinating stuff like:

The American Revolution, conceived broadly as the quarter-century from 1764 to 1788, has innumerable facets, interpretations, and legacies. The Revolution was a long process that moved a colonial society—bound in blood and tradition to a global empire—to challenge its past while it negotiated its future. The Janus metaphor offers only a limited tool to untangle some of this complexity, yet it is a useful way to link different elements of the era and demonstrate important dualities that course through American history. Patriot leaders looked to familiar English ideas about rights and sovereignty to elaborate new conceptions relevant to the American situation. As Americans’ allegiance to British institutions of government dissolved, Revolutionary leaders created new forms of government. Finally, Revolutionary rhetoric and tumult disrupted colonial patterns of gender and race relationships. While it did not result in the enjoyment of new liberties by white women, enslaved and free blacks, and Indians, the ideas it unleashed in the world provided later generations with powerful arguments for claiming their liberties. As we look back on this era, whether simply to understand its implications or perhaps in an attempt to draw contemporary meaning from it, we perform our own Janus-inspired act. In our own time, it remains useful to look back to history as we contemplate our future.

If you want more of this, read on! >>

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