Once liberated from British rule, many American Patriots felt they had less freedom than under King George III.
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Years before, these people had put aside self-interest to join with their neighbors in mobilizing against their British oppressors. They grew strong by forming coalitions across social, geographical and religious lines.
Once the hostilities started in 1775, popular movements helped convince people to share the costs of the war, distribute and price goods fairly, and curb the influence of Loyalists.
Toward the end of the Revolutionary War, power began to shift away from artisans, farmers and free laborers and toward the moneyed classes. Self-interest was newly celebrated as a duty, even a virtue, and once popular meetings, committees, petitions and resolutions became emblematic of mob rule.
One aspect of the Patriot economy to be lost was the capacity for people to decide the use and value of property based on social purpose and human need, and not simply leave it to market forces.
I spoke with Barbara Clark Smith, author of “The Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America,” on the following topics:
1. Consent in Law’s Execution
2. Crime & Punishment
3. Patriotism in Action
4. Loyalty to People
5. Freedom for Avarice
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(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)