Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution
The American Revolutionary War is perhaps the most important war in the United
It was the war for freedom and independence and the beginning of
America as it is known today.
The results of the Revolutionary War, like the
Constitution and Declaration of Independence, are where we root our values, our laws,
and our society.
Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the
American Revolution in Virginia
by Woody Holton is a book about the various causes of
entry into the war by the biggest colony during this time, Virginia.
Holton argues that
nonelites, like those mentioned in the title, powerfully influenced Virginia’s politics and
ultimately, their decision to enter the war for independence.
Holton goes against the traditional belief that the elites, like George Washington
and Thomas Jefferson, drove the revolution, and instead says that “Indians, merchants,
slaves, and debtors helped propel free Virginians into the Independence movement" (p.
In his opinion, the gentry joined in the revolution in reaction to the movements by
these other, lower class, groups of people.
He explains in detail how the slaves’,
Indians’, debtors’, merchants’, and smallholders’ (small plantation farmers or lessees)
struggle for freedom influenced that of the gentlemen and eventually persuaded them to