A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution. By Carolyn Eastman


Atlantic history, hemispheric history, global history: recent scholarly shifts in scale have shown that the Revolution, far from creating a distinctive national identity, instead marked a political transition in a society that remained defined by transcultural contacts, exchanges, and affinities. In the context of the ever-expanding geography of our discipline, Carolyn Eastman's account of the early republic is striking because it questions the nationalized mythology of the Revolutionary War from within. A Nation of Speechifiers draws entirely on evidence from the United States to demonstrate that a shared national identity did not emerge for decades after independence, much later than the nationalistic rhetoric of the era would suggest. Eastman argues that ordinary Americans "learned to think of themselves as members of a public" before they could inhabit a sense of national belonging.