AcknowledgmentsPrefaceIntroduction3Pt. 1Standing: The Public Good, the Individual, and the CommunityCh. 1Three Discourses in Defense of the Public Good23Ch. 2A Sketch of 18th-Century American Communalism48Ch. 3Localism and the Myth of American Individualism84Ch. 4Three Leading Views of the Individual, Plus One116Pt. 2The Meaning of Liberty in the Revolutionary EraCh. 5A Delusive Similarity: (Ordered) Liberty and Freedom155Ch. 6Spiritual Liberty: The Quintessential Liberty193Ch. 7Corporate Liberty: Political and Civil241Ch. 8The Concept of Slavery: Liberty's Antithesis289Afterword320Bibliography329Index379
Barry Shain has ambitiously set out to deracinate eighteenth-century American individualism, leaving in its stead the roots of a Protestant localist political culture from which contemporary Americans might recover the language of community. The result is a fresh look at the values that animated America's revolutionary generation. -- Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles
Barry Alan Shain is Associate Professor of Political Science at Colgate University.
"Barry Shain is perhaps not so much an anti-liberal as a general trouble-maker...He studies the year 1760-90, and he finds this period very much different from the one characterized by individualism which liberals have portrayed. On the other hand, he finds no secular republicanism of the kind celebrated by Hannah Arendt and the 'communitarians' she has inspired."--Harvey Mansfield, The Times Literary Supplement "Shain has gone a considerable way toward illustrating how America's 'lively experiment' was defined by profoundly Protestant, communitarian, and localist impulses. A must-read for scholars of colonial religion and politics."--Mark S. Massa, Theological Studies "This book demolishes a central tenet of American civil mythology... The author displays impressive command over a wide range of primary and secondary sources; his account moves seamlessly between social history and political philosophy."--David Zaret, American Journal of Sociology "Shain's purpose is to articulate and defend for political philosophy and understanding of the American past which has been developing for several decades in social and intellectual history. In this effort he is remarkably effective... Shain's striking conclusion is that the U.S. virtually backed into liberal modernity... the book raises a host of important and in many ways novel questions."--William M. Sullivan, Canadian Philosphical Review "An impressive, well-argued, deeply researched book that enriches our understanding of early American history and arm us for current political struggles against the twin tendencies to cultural nihilism and political centralization."--Eugene D. Genovese, First Things "With this tightly organized, carefully argued study, Barry Alan Shain makes a major contribution to the contemporary debate over the political ideology of the American Revolutionary ear."--Thomas E. Buckley, Catholic Historical Review "A fascinating work that does much to expose the hollowness of early American individualism."--William J. Watkins, Jr., Chronicles "In a provocative book, Barry Shain goes to great lengths to argue against the common conception of an America based on the absolute freedom of the individual to do as he or she sees fit... Shain concludes that individual liberties as conceived in 20th-century America were not valued nearly as much as communal rights and communal freedoms... He is a sophisticated thinker and a complex logician who impressively deconstructs the image of the Revolution's unfettered individualism."--Zachary Karabell, Boston Book Review "Barry Shain is perhaps not so much an anti-liberal as a general troublemaker determined to cause embarrassment on all sides. In The Myth of American Individualism, he studies the years 1760-90, and he finds this period very much different from the one characterized by individualism which liberals have portrayed. On the other hand, he finds no secular republicanism of the kind celebrated by Hannah Arendt and the 'communitarians' she has inspired."--Harvey Mansfield, Times Literary Supplement