Alfred F. Young. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the

Canada and the United States
country" (p. 64). They were all subjects with rights, to
be sure, most notably the right to protection. But
where colonial charters existed, they needed revision,
and Parliament's authority over stubborn assemblies
needed assertion. Startlingly, Shannon argues that
these imperial reformers viewed Native Americans as
component peoples within the category of Britannia's
American subjects. Shannon has few pieces of direct
evidente (pp. 20-23) for this provocative but unconvincing argument. Never, moreover, did Indians' status
as British subjects become explicit in the discussions at
Shannon's third path is followed by such provincial
reformers as Benjamin Franklin, whose vision was
both egalitarian enough to give British subjects in the
colonies an equal footing with those in the mother
country and exclusive enough to reject blacks and
Indians as true fellow subjects. Shannon sees Franklin's exclusions in contrast to the more inclusive vision
of his imperial reformers. Again, the inclusiveness of
British imperialists is overstated. Much more convincing is Shannon's treatment, with great sensitivity to the
intellectual currents of the age, of Franklin's quest for
colonial equality, a quest that the Philadelphia philosopher could stilt, in the 1750s, reconcile with parliamentary supremacy.
Extremely well written and brimming with provocative ideas, Shannon's excellent narrative of the Albany
Congress is clearly much more: it is an exploration of
the conflicting futures that Indians, colonists, and
imperialists imagined for the British North American
Empire on the eve of the Seven Years War.
University of Notre Dame
ALFRED F. YOUNG. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party:
Memory and the American Revolution. Boston, Mass.:
Beacon. 1999. Pp. xvii, 262. $24.00.
George Robert Twelves Hewes was a man remarkable
in his lifetime (1742-1840) for short stature, long life,
and helping to destroy the East India Company's tea at
Boston on the night of December 16, 1773. His stories
of the Jatter episode made him a local celebrity in
Otsego County, New York, where he was an honored
guest at Fourth of July observances in the late 1820s.
Eventually two writers, James Hawkes and Benjamin
Bussey Thatcher, interviewed him and recounted his
experiences in, respectively, A Retrospect of the Boston
Tea-Party (1834), and Traits of the Tea Party (1835).
Their accounts in turn furnish Alfred F. Young with
the basis for an eloquent meditation on the dynamics
of revolution and remembrance in American history.
A poor cordwainer with a growing family, Hewes
witnessed the Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770), an
event that turned him into a militant participant in
crowd actions, including the Tea Party. During the
war, he volunteered both as a short-term soldier and as
a crew member on two privateers. Those voyages did
not fetch the prize money he had hoped for, and he
ended the war as poor as ever. Thereafter his family
grew larger, but not his fortune. Stil] searching for
prosperity in his mid-seventies, he moved to Richfield
Springs, New York, about 1815; there he continued to
make shoes and reminisce.
The richness of Hewes's revolutionary-era memories
eventually distinguished him and ultimately made him
a kind of hero. By analyzing and contextualizing these
stories, Young infers what the Revolution meant to
Hewes and to others in similar circumstances. Above
all, the Revolution gave him a sense of self-esteem as
a man and a citizen. Humble as he was, he found that
members of the Whig elite—men like John Hancock
and Samuel Adams—respected him for his patriotism
and acknowledged his worth as a participant in the
cause. Brought up to bow before his betters, the
Revolution made Hewes a man who would doff his hat
to no one.
Of course, as leaders of a movement that depended
on the voluntary support of ordinary people, Hancock
and his ilk were compelled to court their favor, and
never more so than on occasions like the Tea Party.
Thus the social structure of late colonial British America bent rather than broke under the pressure of
revolution and war, and the United States remained
under elite leadership much as the colonies had. Yet
this did not mean that class was an inconsequential
element in the events of the 1770s and 1780s. "The
American Revolution," Young writes, "was not a
plebian revolution, but there was a powerful plebian
current within it" (p. 206), a current that strongly
affected its course and outcome even as it reshaped the
lives and views of men like the little shoemaker who
had helped heave chests of tea into Boston Harbor.
The second half of the book, "When Did They Start
Calling It the Boston Tea Party?" explores the ways in
which later Americans understood the episode that
Hewes and his contemporaries knew as "the destruction of the tea." As social and economie changes in the
early nineteenth century altered popular understandings of republican ideology, class antagonisms began to
influence polities in ways that bewildered the surviving
revolutionaries. Competing groups contested the
meaning of the Revolution in public forums and
anniversary commemorations that grew increasingly
strident. In this context, Hawkes's and Thatcher's
"discovery" of Hewes becomes significant. Hoping to
define the revolutionary heritage in a way that would
not threaten their own position, Bostonian conservative leaders like Abbott Lawrence and Dr. Samuel Van
Crowninshield Smith embraced the jocular term "Tea
Party" in order to tame what had in fact been a deeply
radical act, and at the Fourth of July ceremonies of
1835 they celebrated Hewes as a hero: not as the
radicalized thirty-one-year-old artisan of 1773 but as a
"safe, ninety-year-old codger" (p. 205) whose winsome
charm perfectly suited their needs.
We owe a considerable debt to Young for not
allowing them to have the last word on Hewes and the
meaning of his life story. This is a book that every early
Reviews of Books
Americanist should read, and one from which any
historian can profit.
University of Colorado,
C. BRADLEY THOMPSON. John Adams and the Spirit of
Liberty. (American Political Thought.) Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. 1998. Pp. xix, 340. $39.95.
C. Bradley Thompson has written an important study
of John Adams's political thought. In it, he seeks to
disabuse readers of the standard interpretations of his
subject, to explicate Adams's major political texts, to
defend Adams's political consistency, and to establish
Adams's place among the pantheon of America's
greatest political thinkers. Thompson denies that Adams was a Jatter-day Puritan, that his political thought
changed during the revolutionary era, or that Adams's
Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the
United States (published in 1787 and 1788) was incoherent and "irrelevant." Rather, Adams rejected Calvinism, embraced John Locke and the Enlightenment,
and remained a consistent supporter of republican
government. His Defence was a superb, original contribution to the study of political science.
Thompson divides his study of Adams into two parts,
both of which aim to show Adams's ambition to be a
"lawgiver," his intellectual consistency, and his brilliance as a political and constitutional theorist. The
first part examines the development of Adams's political thought up to the beginning of the Revolution; the
second carefully dissects the Defence and the Discourses on Davila (1805). Largely missing until near
the end of the book are Adams's acts of lawgiving: his
influential 1776 pamphlet, Thoughts on Government,
and the Massachusetts constitution of 1780. Yet by
arguing convincingly for Adams's intellectual consistency, Thompson shows how Adams's frames of government flowed from his political science, no matter
the chronological sequence.
Adams was a careful political scientist. For him, the
end of government was the promotion and preservation of the spirit of liberty. Using this goal as his
measuring stick, he studied the historica) experience of
different forms of government to determine which best
preserved liberty. If, Adams believed, human nature
was unchanging, then by locating and describing the
best governments regardless of time or place, he would
enable people (he believed strongly in popular sovereignty and the right of the people to resist oppression)
to establish the best governments for themselves.
Thus, the Defence analyzed past republics in order to
test theory. His study of the past and his observations
of the world around him taught Adams that people had
a passion for distinction that needed to be channeled
for the benefit of the public. Only by creating governments that separated power among its different
branches and mixed the power of the one, the few, and
the many in the legislature could people compel
government to act for the common good and protect
liberty. Separation of powers prevented the concentration of power, and mixing power in the legislature
ensured that the powers exercised would promote the
public good. In Adams's framework, the most crucial
official was the governor, who was responsible for
protecting the common good, mediating between the
few and the many, and identifying the people who
deserved the honor of office. Adams aimed for full
representation of the people and enlightened consent
by propertied men (the broader the base of propertied
men, the more broadly power would be distributed).
Dismissing the idea of civic virtue as utopian, he relied
on well-balanced governments to create virtuous citizens.
Some readers may recoil at Thompson's unrelenting
defense of, and praise for, Adams (at times, it risks
becoming a panegyric) and wonder about his decision
largely to isolate Adams's political ideas from his
political life. Moreover, when the author explores
Adams's relevance to modern American polities, it
becomes difficult to distinguish Adams's views from
Thompson's. Nevertheless, this is an excellent book. It
effectively locates Adams within the broader currents
of late eighteenth-century political thought and shows
that the Defence initially was well regarded, influential,
and compatible with the Federalist mainstream. It also
illuminates the sources and importance of Adams's
political theory and convincingly demonstrates that
Adams earned a place among America's greatest political thinkers.
Wayne State University
KARL-FRIEDRICH WALLING. Republican Empire: Alex
ander Hamilton on War and Free Govenment. (American Political Thought.) Lawrence: University Press of
Kansas. 1999. Pp. xii, 356. $40.00.
This book stands at the convergence of two major
enterprises of rediscovery. Recently, historians and
political scientists fascinated by the problems of governing polities covering vast territories have begun to
reexamine concepts of empire and imperial governance. At the same time, scholars and the public have
begun to reacquaint themselves with Alexander Hamilton, as his great adversary Thomas Jefferson's reputation has begun a stately fall after decades of preeminence.
Karl-Friedrich Walling focuses on Hamilton's concern with balancing liberty and power in governing a
vast, fragile nation in a world of hostile great powers.
Can a republic govern a large territory, preserve itself
against foreign encroachments, and maintain liberty at
home? Walling argues that Hamilton wrestled with
these enduring questions more consistently and coherently, and gave answers more compelling, than those
proffered by any other member of the revolutionary
generation. For Hamilton, argues Walling, America
was a republican empire; governing America required