The Forgotten City
During the Revolutionary War, the largest American cities played host to major military engagements. From the American standpoint, the physical characteristics that rendered the cities ideal for political mobilization also made them vulnerable to British occupation or even destruction. The war disrupted the cities' economic functions. As each of the five cities in this book became untenable, Patriot sympathizers abandoned them for the countryside, and the cities capitulated to occupying forces. This ignominious wartime history, coupled with agrarian ideals and widespread distrust of urban crowds, has led the cities' prewar significance to diminish in American memory. Although the cities of the United States retained their importance as centers of commerce and manufacturing, it was uncertain whether they would ever again play so crucial a role in political mobilization and the advancement of democratic ideas and practices. Still, a variety of groups continued to rely on the cities for political activity.
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