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Introduction to the H-SHEAR Forum on Daniel Walker Howe’s _What Hath God Wrought_ Shortly after it was announced that he had won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in History for his magnum opus, _What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848_, Daniel Walker Howe commented on this mailing list that the Pulitzer was “evidence of dynamism and richness of our field of study,” a testament not just to the book itself but to the growth of SHEAR over the years and to the “sophistication and breadth” of the _Journal of the Early Republic_. As the numerous positive reviews of _What Hath God Wrought_ make clear, few scholars are as well-positioned to judge the state of the field and of SHEAR as Howe, whose book is replete with references to the very latest scholarship produced in the last decade by historians of the early American Republic. _What Hath God Wrought_ therefore represents a special opportunity to take stock of where the history of our period stands at this moment in time. This is a doubly propitious moment for such stock-taking since _What Hath God Wrought_ was preceded three years ago by Sean Wilentz’s own magisterial survey of American history from Jefferson to Lincoln, _The Rise of American Democracy_ (2005). These two landmark volumes not only offer masterful syntheses of recent scholarship, but also offer rival hypotheses about the early American republic. Whereas Wilentz sees the early nineteenth century as a period of rising democratization catalyzed by the Jacksonian Democracy, Howe emphasizes the limitations of American democracy in a period marked by slavery, Native American removal, and the disfranchisement of women. Wilentz and Howe also offer particularly lucid and compelling statements of two opposing interpretations of the Whig Party, the Democratic Party, and their respective legacies. Wilentz’s celebration of the Democracy often comes at the expense of the Whig Party, which appears in his interpretation as an anti-democratic movement that used the partisan innovations of the Democracy in order to advance policies inimical to the growth of democracy. Howe, on the other hand, celebrates the Whigs as champions of a system of economic modernization that made life better for countless ordinary Americans. The Whigs and their support base of fervent evangelicals, according to Howe, were also much more hospitable to the inclusive social visions of abolitionists, anti-imperialists, and advocates of increased political participation by women. In addition to offering a provocative counterpoint to Wilentz’s provocative points about the so-called Age of Jackson, _What Hath God Wrought_ also takes issue with an earlier book that has animated and framed studies of the early republic for almost two decades: Charles Sellers’s _The Market Revolution_ (1991). The transformation of America between 1815 and 1848, according to Howe, was less a revolution in markets than in “communications” and “transportation,” a theme that runs throughout Howe’s narrative. _What Hath God Wrought_ therefore serves not just as a status report on a decade of scholarship produced under the aegis of SHEAR. The book also serves as a call for historians of the early republic to reconsider the basic contours of the period, both by redescribing the nature of America’s “transformation” in the early national period and by reevaluating the role of the Whigs and their heirs in effecting that change. To offer a well-rounded assessment of Howe’s argument, H-SHEAR has assembled a roundtable of distinguished scholars to review _What Hath God Wrought_. Each of these reviewers necessarily address the major themes of the book, including Howe’s positive assessment of the Whigs and his description of the transformation of America as a “communications revolution.” But we have also asked each reviewer to focus his or her comments on a particular aspect of Howe’s interpretation. Over the course of the next seven weeks, we will publish one of these reviews each Monday. At the conclusion, Professor Howe will write a response. Our hope is that these seven reviews will serve both as a stimulating collective review of a landmark book in our field and as an invitation to further discussion on the list. Please feel free to discuss each of the reviews as they are published. W. Caleb McDaniel Rice University Co-Book Review Editor, H-SHEAR Notes  http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-shear&month=0804&week=b&msg=9Lb6UpSRNOgLENirhYyAOQ