Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Janet Jackson All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Grocery Amazon Gift Card Offer jrscwrld jrscwrld jrscwrld  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Fall Arrivals in Amazon Outdoor Clothing Learn more
Taming Democracy and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Taming Democracy: "The People," the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution 1st Edition

13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195378566
ISBN-10: 0195378563
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $7.02
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy new
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
List Price: $25.95 Save: $9.69 (37%)
25 New from $16.26
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Taming Democracy: "The Pe... has been added to your Cart
More Buying Choices
25 New from $16.26 18 Used from $15.00
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Inside Out by Ann M. Martin
"Inside Out" by Ann M. Martin
Check out one of the featured titles this month in Teen & Young Adult, by Ann M. Martin. Learn more | See related books
$16.26 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Taming Democracy: "The People," the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution
  • +
  • An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (Early American Studies)
  • +
  • The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89, Fourth Edition (The Chicago History of American Civilization)
Total price: $45.00
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a rare book—scholarly yet written with verve, readable for pleasure as well as for knowledge. It reasserts what historians have long argued: that the American gentry during the period from 1776 to roughly 1800 succeeded at stunting the meaning and practice of democracy for ordinary white men. Bouton's familiar arguments about thwarted popular ideals are drawn only from Pennsylvania. That's because the Keystone State, having gone through the most democratic revolution in 1776 and written the most democratic constitution, had turned by about 1790 and, under its second constitution, fell back under the control of the elite. Yet even if distinctive, Pennsylvania was decently representative of much of the early nation. Up to a point, therefore, Bouton's argument is convincing. What's more, he relates this disappointing history partly through the stories of individuals, like the Black Boys and Jimmy Smith, who'll be unknown even to most scholars. But like so many historians, he applauds the common people acting their democratic part while implicitly condemning the gentry for acting like gentry. This inconsistency mars an otherwise fine book. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"The overall story is convincing, not least because Bouton strikes an admirable balance between quantitative and qualitative evidence.... Bouton writes with quiet passion, laying out evidence in careful sequence, creating sympathy for ordinary people without romanticizing them.... Taming Democracy brings social conflict and economic analysis back to the center of Revolutionary historiography."--J.M. Opal, Interdisciplinary History

"Button has written an important and good book. He skillfully combines discussions of social history, finance, and political economy to show just how catastrophic the 1780s were for most Americans. Taming Democracy is, to date, the best introduction to the worldview of small property holders during the postrevolutionary period."--Andrew Shankman, William and Mary Quarterly

"Bouton clarifies murky economic concepts in a lively fashion and, above all, projects the reader's mind into the lives of ordinary citizens who felt betrayed and frustrated by leaders they themselves had set up and followed faithfully through the dark years of the Revolution."--T.S. Martin, CHOICE

"This is a rare book--scholarly yet written with verve, readable for pleasure as well as for knowledge."--Publishers Weekly

"With keen insight and deep research, Terry Bouton recovers a lost world: the agrarian democracy of revolutionary America. His vivid prose illuminates the struggle of common people to fulfill the promise of the American Revolution. By retelling their story so fully and fairly, Bouton renews their cause in our present day."--Alan Taylor, author of The Divided Ground

"In thoughtful, readable prose Terry Bouton shows us what the American Revolution meant for one group who counted: the small-scale farmers of Pennsylvania. They struggled; they thought; they fought. Ultimately they lost what they believed what they had won, a world that would be good for them and their families. The Revolution belonged to Bouton's kind of people, ordinary Americans living through an extraordinary time, as much as it did to the Founding Fathers."--Edward Countryman, author of The American Revolution

"For many ordinary Americans living in Pennsylvania, the Revolution did not turn out as they had hoped. Committed to the creation of a more egalitarian society, they resisted British rule, only to discover that the rich and well-born had no interest in supporting serious democratic reform. In this compelling study, Bouton brings passion and insight to the bittersweet story of the betrayal of a truly revolutionary society."--T.H. Breen, Director, Center for Historical Studies, Northwestern University

"The 'whiskey rebellion' clearly has been misnamed: Bouton argues convincingly that it grew out of two decades of struggles by Pennsylvania's farmers with 'moneyed men' for the fruits of the Revolution. He tells their story in gripping scenes of the sheriff's wagon carting off the belongings of debtors and of farmers defiantly closing down roads. This is a book about the Revolution that breaks new ground."--Alfred Young, author of Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution

"Prominent citizens like George Washington and Alexander Hamilton considered the American Revolution an unruly steed, and they devoted considerable energy to reining it in. Terry Bouton's superbly-written account of how they achieved that feat leaves us wishing they had failed. The focus of Bouton's startlingly-original book is nothing less than the struggle for the soul of America."--Woody Holton, University of Richmond

"Taming Democracy will have a major impact on early American historians and further the re-evaluation of the entire Revolutionary period. Bouton's book will revitalize the economic interpretation of the era."--Allan Kulikoff, University of Georgia

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195378563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195378566
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Henn on September 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The author uses Pennsylvania as the lens through which to examine the causes of the Revolutionary War, the ideals that backed the move for independence, and how those ideals were subsequently limited and contained in the adoption of new state and national constitutions.

In years leading up to the revolution, both the gentry and the common people came to embrace a broad conviction that democracy is everyman's right and that concentration of wealth was incompatible with democracy in the long run. Of course, by everyman's right, they meant to exclude women. And everyman also excluded every man that wasn't white. Still it was a powerful ideal, enough to inspire a successful revolution.

But something funny happened along the way. The gentry, seeing an active democracy up close, didn't like what they saw. And officers of our army got used to luxury and privilege from hanging out with French officers.

The book points out the key role of debt, credit and availability of cash in leading up to the revolution. Much of the impetus of the war was driven by the effort by the British to raise funds through taxes in a time when circulating cash was very limited (due to poorly conceived policies limiting paper money) This lead to boatloads of bankruptcies, foreclosures and forced farm auctions.

During the war, the colonies financed the rebellion with borrowed money. Soldiers were paid with IOUs. Farmers provided grain and horses in exchange for IOUs. Then for over a decade the colonies refused to pay up on these IOUs. As the cash strapped farmers and soldiers were pressed to pay up on their own debts, they sold off their IOUs at deep discounts. Speculators bought up these IOUs for pennies on the dollar.

Then came the Constitution.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By anders tron-haukebo on January 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Bouton's book Taming Democracy is Not a casual read (for me, anyway); it calls for thought & contemplation. Semi-professionals or professional historians may have quibbles with the conclusions/suggestions that the author proffers, but he does give us a lot of facts with info that was previously just below the surface for many casual historians.
IMHO, Bouton centers his work on the social economic aspects of the revolution, but also mentions the religious angles.
I don't have to agree 100% to recognize this book as top-drawer.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Douglass on February 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow! It sure makes a difference what historian you read as to what you learn about history. Just before I read the illuminating book under review here (Taming Democracy), I read Gordon Wood's The Idea of America. From that book I learn that James Madison and many other of the "founding fathers" were dismayed at the expressions of democracy following the winning of independence, especially the "unruly" state legislatures. But nowhere does Wood give even one example of the type of legislation that so alarmed Madison. Everything you learn from Taming Democracy is quite missing from Wood's book.

However, there are plenty of clues in Wood as to what was so exercising ordinary Americans during the Federalist period. Actually, I already had a clue because I had read another book, Woody Holton's outstanding Unruly Americans & the Origins of the Constitution. From that I learned about the controversy of war debt certificate speculation in the early republic, and something more important. I learned that the hallowed Constitutional principle of the protection of the rights of minorities was erected to protect the minority rich from the majority poor.

Ok, Taming Democracy: It is a monumental work of social history and it is a very depressing book. There in the new America, a new world, with new land, new people, new ideas, and a revolution, we see how the "money men" act in concert to seize control of society and it's resources.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on October 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Democracy, that is, the empowerment of the common man, and elitism are usually simply not compatible, especially when great disparities in wealth are involved. But in the face of an extended crisis that threatens the entire social order, those incompatibilities can be set aside. Such was the case in the colonial decade of 1765-75, when the economic policies and practices of the British were so egregious and oppressive, that the colonial gentry did join with and accept the legitimacy of farmers and artisans in shrugging off British rule. However, in the ensuing social unrest of the War and in the following years, newly emerging elites asserted their economic and political dominance, much to the consternation of those who had seen so much promise in the new order. The author takes a close look at the state of Pennsylvania as a good example of the diminishment of democracy in America in the two decades after the War of Independence.

With the new state constitutions in the mid-1770s, owning property often ceased to be a requirement for voting rights, thereby making most white males eligible to vote. But as the author repeatedly shows, romantic notions of "the people" acting in concert in the political process to ameliorate economic conditions are more myth than reality. The organizing difficulties across geographic, ethnic, religious, and class differences to achieve a coherent political voice are exceedingly formidable, not to mention the immense pressures that elites can bring because of their control of needed resources.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Taming Democracy: "The People," the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution
This item: Taming Democracy: "The People," the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution
Price: $16.26
Ships from and sold by