What matters to you.

Forum Network

Free online lectures: Explore a world of ideas

Funding provided by:
Beyond the 13: The American Revolutionary Era Outside the Emerging United States

Disunion Among Ourselves: The Perilous Politics of the American Revolution

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Friday, June 09, 2023

Join Revolutionary Spaces for the launch of Eli Merritt’s new eye-opening book, _Disunion Among Ourselves: The Perilous Politics of the American Revolution_. Merritt reveals the deep political divisions that almost tore the Union apart during the American Revolution, and how the founding generation succeeded in holding the young nation together by uniting for the sake of liberty and self-preservation. _Disunion Among Ourselve_s has inevitable resonances with our present era of political hyperpolarization and serves as a touchstone for contemporary politics, reminding us that the founders overcame far tougher times than our own through commitment to ethical constitutional democracy and compromise. “Eli Merritt deftly explores a revolutionary America rife with divisions and driven by a fear of civil wars on multiple fronts. Deeply researched, wide-ranging, and insightful, Disunion Among Ourselves persuades that our national Union began from, and still depends on, fending off the many demons of disunion.”—Alan Taylor, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair at the University of Virginia and author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 “Disunion Among Ourselves tells an important story that has been missed or skipped over in nearly all histories of the Revolution. It has indeed, as promised, recovered ‘a whole area of the Revolution’ previously underappreciated, and for that is invalu­able.”—Richard Kreitner, writer and historian, author of Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union “Disunion Among Ourselves is an elegantly written and deeply researched book that challenges long-accepted myths about the origins of the American Union. Merritt shows that the seeds of the Civil War lay in the American Revolution and that the founding fathers had good cause to fear disunion and internecine conflict. The chance to build a new republic might have been fumbled away without superior statecraft––and indeed it nearly was. This suspenseful account supplies a timely lesson for our own hyperpartisan times––that the values of moderation, compromise, and the rule of law are prerequisite to the survival of democracy.”—Ian W. Toll, author of Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy Doors open at 5:30pm and is free and open to the public thanks to the generous support of The Lowell Institute. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

**ELI MERRITT** is a political historian at Vanderbilt University who specializes in the founding era of the United States and the intersection of demagogues and democracy. He has written for the American Journal of Legal History, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, among other publications. The editor of How to Save Democracy: Inspiration and Advice from 95 World Leaders, he also writes an online newsletter called American Commonwealth that explores the origins of the United States’ political discontents and solutions to them.