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A Renegade History of the United States

is the title of a new book by Thaddeus Russell (American Studies at Occidental College) published last month by Simon and Schuster.  Following is the end of the first chapter titled  "Drunkards, Laggards, Prostitutes, Pirates, and Other Heroes of the American Revolution"  

In the last years of his life, Adams wrote to his friend Jefferson a set of plaintive questions:

"Will you tell me how to prevent riches from becoming the effects of temperance and industry?

Will you tell me how to prevent riches from producing luxury? 

Will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy, intoxication, extravagance, vice, and folly?" 

Jefferson had no answer.  And there would be no winner in the war between pleasure and discipline.   During the Revolution Americans began what would be a long resistance to the obligations and sacrifices required by the dark side of democracy.  the fight was on between disciplinarians and renegades, but neither would win.  The founding of the United States simply began the war that continues today.

Posted by Dave Trippel on October 18, 2010 at 02:36 PM in Books, United States | Permalink