Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
American Leviathan

American Leviathan

Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier

Patrick Griffin

Hill and Wang




The war that raged along America's frontier during the period of the American Revolution was longer, bloodier, and arguably more revolutionary than what transpired on the Atlantic coast.

Between 1763 and 1795 westerners not only participated in a War of Independence but engaged in a revolution that ushered in fundamental changes in social relations, political allegiances, and assumptions about the relationship between individuals and society. On the frontier, the process of forging sovereignty and citizens was stripped down to its essence. Settlers struggled with the very stuff of revolution: violence, uncertainty, disorder, and the frenzied competition to remake the fabric of society. In so doing, they were transformed from deferential subjects to self-sovereign citizens as the British Empire gave way to the American nation. But something more fundamental was at work. The violent nature of the contest to reconstitute sovereignty produced a revolutionary settlement in which race and citizenship went hand in hand. The common people demanded as much, and the state delivered. As westerners contended in a Hobbesian world, they also created some of the myths that made America American.

Patrick Griffin recaptures a chaotic world of settlers, Indians, speculators, British regulars, and American and state officials, vying with one another to remake the West during its most formative period.



Tom Quick's Monument

From the Seven Years' War through the American Revolution and until the Whiskey Rebellion, a frontiersman haunted the American imagination. Growing up on the Pennsylvania frontier as the eldest of ten,...


Praise for American Leviathan

“In this book, Griffin aims to re-conceptualize the American Revolution in the West and his explanation of the ways Hobbesian disorder and violence on the American frontier escalated and laid the basis for the acceptability of federal state power in the West is very convincing.” —Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Patrick Griffin

Patrick Griffin is associate professor of history at the University of Virginia.

Patrick Griffin

From the Publisher

Hill and Wang

Latest on Facebook