chapter  6
26 Pages

Continuing Revolution: George Bancroft and the Myth of Process

The American Revolution plays a curious role in American classic literature. Bronson Alcott tells us that Thoreau acted as though he were the sole signer of the Declaration of Independence and a revolution in himself. Historians of the period have shown that the overthrow of colonial power set loose a libertarian spirit which terrified moderate and propertied democrats. Bancroft's History of the United States canonized the distinctive figures, events, and stories that constitute the myth of American revolution.'America' is not in the Bible:that simple fact carried enormous complications for the prophets of New Israel. The two major cultural projects to secure the future came in the 1830s, during the unsettling period that followed the deaths of Jefferson and Adams and the election of Andrew Jackson. Bancroft narrated it as the continuing revolution of the United States. Anthropologists have observed that the rite of passage, despite its socializing intent, may pose enormous dangers to society.