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The Vineyard of Liberty by James MacGregor Burns (Excerpt)

The Vineyard of Liberty by James MacGregor Burns (Excerpt)

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
The first volume of Burns’s stunning account of American history, from the birth of the Constitution to the dawn of the Civil War.
The first volume of Burns’s stunning account of American history, from the birth of the Constitution to the dawn of the Civil War.

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Publish date: Apr 10, 2012
Added to Scribd: Jul 03, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/21/2013

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Chapter 1
The Strategy of Liberty
WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS, LATE 
 
 January 1787.
Down the long sloping shoulders of theBerkshire Mountains they headed west throughthe bitter night, stumbling over frozen ruts, picking their way around deep drifts of snow.Some carried muskets, others hickory clubs,others nothing. Many wore old RevolutionaryWar uniforms, now decked out with the sprig of hemlock that marked them as rebels. Carelessand cocksure they had been, but now gall anddespair hung over them as heavy as theenveloping night. They and hundreds like themwere fleeing for their lives, looking for places tohide.These men were rebels against ex-rebels.Only a few years before, they had been fightingthe redcoats at Bunker Hill, joining GeneralStark in the rout of the enemy at Bennington,helping young Colonel Henry Knox’s troops pullfifty tons of cannon and mortars, captured fromthe British at Ticonderoga, across these same
 
frozen wastes. They had fought in comradeshipwith men from Boston and other towns in the populous east. All had been revolutionariestogether, in a glorious and victorious cause. Nowthey were fighting their old comrades, dying before their cannon, hunting for cover likeanimals.The trouble had been brewing for years.Life had been hard enough during theRevolution, but independence had first brought aflush of prosperity, then worse times than ever.The people and their governments alikestruggled under crushing debts. Much of theRevolutionary specie was hopelesslyirredeemable. People were still paying for thewar through steep taxes. The farmers in centraland western Massachusetts felt they had sufferedthe most, for their farms, cattle, even their plowscould be taken for unpaid debts. Some debtorshad been thrown into jail and had languishedthere, while family and friends desperatelyscrounged for money that could not be found.Out of the despair and suffering a deephatred had welled in the broad farms along theConnecticut and the settlements in theBerkshires. Hatred for the sheriffs and other minions of the law who flung neighbors into jail.Hatred for the judges who could sign orders thatmight wipe out a man’s entire property. Hatredfor the scheming lawyers who connived in allthis, and battened on it. Hatred above all for the

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