My Book


Taming Democracy: “The People,” the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Winner of 2008 Philip S. Klein Book Prize
Honorable Mention, Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award


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

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

“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

“Bouton 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

“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

“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

“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



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