Introduction In one of the most misused quotations in American history, Thomas Jefferson famously said that the “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure” (Jefferson 1955). This phrase has been used to justify many violent actions throughout the nation’s his- tory, many of which would be actions that might cause Jefferson, as president, many nights of troubled thought. Its consistent use, however, reflects a simple truth about people in general and Americans in particular. When a situation is perceived as unacceptable, people take action. Although some pursue change on an individ- ual basis, when it comes to large social issues, Americans have tended to form groups of like-minded people to achieve the desired ends. Americans, throughout their history, have addressed the circumstances of their lives by taking collective action. It is not the intent of the essays collected in the volumes of Revolts, Protests, Demonstrations, and Rebellions in American History to argue whether such actions were justified. Obviously, in any such situation, there are two sides that usually see things quite differently. Sometimes, basic morality dictates that one side is “right” and the other is “wrong.” But determining such things is not our task. Rather, it is more instructive for historians to look at the situations that brought about such actions. What were the circumstances that caused people to decide that collective action was necessary? Who was involved? Why did people respond the way they did? What were the events that were the turning points in such actions? By finding the answers to all these questions, we can take some important steps toward understanding how these revolts, protests, and other collec- tive actions function within American society. To do so, it might be instructive to look at the different types of events and movements that qualified for inclusion in this work. Among the most basic forms of revolt (not to mention the earliest) are the reac- tions that American Indian peoples had when their rights, their land, or their cultures were being taken from them. The Pueblo Revolt, in 1680, was one of the earliest large-scale uprisings against the encroaching European presence on the continent. It had many elements: land loss, cultural repression, religious suppression, and forced labor. Similarly, the Pima Revolt in 1751, Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, the Flight of the Nez Perce ´ in 1877, the Sioux resistance that culminated in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, though all different in their expression, shared the common feature of a group or groups of American Indians taking action, sometimes against xxi
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