Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors

TitleClothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsIrvin, Benjamin H.
Number of Pages378
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York

In 1776, when the Continental Congress declared independence, formally severing relations with Great Britain, it immediately began to fashion new objects and ceremonies of state with which to proclaim the sovereignty of the infant republic. In this social and cultural history of the Continental Congress, the author describes this struggle to create a national identity during the American Revolution. The book examines the material artifacts, rituals, and festivities by which Congress endeavored not only to assert its political legitimacy and to bolster the war effort, but ultimately to exalt the United States and to win the allegiance of its inhabitants. Congress, for example, crafted an emblematic great seal, celebrated anniversaries of U.S. independence, and implemented august diplomatic protocols for the reception of foreign ministers. Yet as the author demonstrates, Congress could not impose its creations upon a passive American public. To the contrary, "the people out of doors" - broadly defined to include not only the working poor who rallied in the streets of Philadelphia, but all persons unrepresented in the Continental Congress, including women, loyalists, and Native Americans - vigorously contested Congress's trappings of nationhood.

Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Type of Literature:

Time Period:


Library Location: 
Call Number: