The Sons of Liberty from a Bottom-Up Perspective: Reviewing New Social Scholarship Fifty Years Later
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
New social history had a profound effect upon the nature of American historiography. Its bottom-up approach radically challenged the traditional historical narrative, producing a string of dynamic studies throughout the 1960s and 1970s. New social historians increasingly focused their studies on the localised experiences of marginalised groups, heralding in the highly influential cultural turn of the early seventies. Yet despite its resounding significance, scholars have a tendency to brush over the complexities and nuances of new social history. Rather, they simplify the school to a few corresponding traits, thus undermining the multifaceted character of this rich historiographical tradition. This dissertation intends to amend such misconceptions. A number of scholars have attempted to define new social history. Yet the school itself naturally evades precise definition. New social history was both individualistic and pluralistic. As such, any attempt to conceptualise the school renders a result riddled with deficiencies. This dissertation will examine how the new social historians approached a singular historical phenomenon, namely, the Sons of Liberty. By focusing solely on the Sons of Liberty, this dissertation will uncover a profusion of divergent interpretations that not only exemplifies the multifaceted character of new social history, but also enables us to appreciate the rich complexities of this historiographical tradition.