American Republics by Alan Taylor – a series of thoughts

I recently finished American Republics by Alan Taylor and liked it quite a bit – some random disjointed thoughts

  1. America is optimized for grand irony and strives for it at  all times
  2. The whole notion of states rights, and that people saw themselves as citizens of individual states is quite true but incomplete – during the early American days there was no “American” identity with which to identify – it would be like identifying as a member of NATO
  3. John Marshall was much more influential than one would think in the long term
  4. American did not have priorities as much as it had an agenda of “Let’s support whatever the settlers are already doing and act like it’s our idea”
  5. There was much, much more European involvement in North America than I would have thought, or knew about
  6. It was mostly a record of American public crime and barbarism, which is fine, the shoe fits, but it does leave out anything that could be labeled “good” or “neutral” – it barely discusses any sort of technology or anything that happened in the free states, or immigrants
  7. The whole notion of defensive imperialism makes more sense now – it’s similar to Russian imperialism over time in some ways
  8. The whole notion of States Rights is truer than I would have thought, but slavery was built way into the fabric of society to about the same degree that I thought too (very, very built in) – the two notions are an odd sort of separate, but related in practice
  9. Andrew Jackson (and Polk) were more thorough bastards than I would have thought possible
  10. Settlers led, and the government followed
  11. Anti-British sentiment loomed larger than I would have thought
  12. Being informed about the relative populations put a lot of things into focus
  13. The fear of slave revolts (which never really happened at all) was a driving force behind a lot of things 

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