Toward a More Perfect Union: Virtue and the Formation of American Republics

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On the way toward declaring independence, Americans saw themselves as a separate people in the process of birth. In 1774, the First Continental Congress drew up a highly specific code of behaviour banning cock-fighting, horse-racing , and theatre. Public executions took the place of drama, and strict regulations were placed on funerals . Withington argues that Congress banned these activities because they were viewed as posing a threat to the values needed in order to make resistance to Britain successful. The book is a brilliant example of cultural history, using activities like gambling and theatre to illuminate the popular attitudes and government policy that contributed to the move toward Independence.