The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book MATTHEW LYON

MATTHEW LYON

"New Man" of the Democratic Revolution, 1749–1822 Aleine Austin
  • Copyright: 1981
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 208 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-00262-0

This "fascinating" and "splendidly researched biography"—as it is described in Professor Morris's foreword—presents convincing evidence that the American Revolution wrought basic economic, ideological, political, and social changes in the life of individuals and institutions. "As Dr. Austin persuasively portrays him," according to the foreword, "Lyon was one of the new breed of upwardly mobile political figures, quick to profit from the expanding economy of the post-Revolutionary and early national years, yet caught up in the challenges of state and nation-building."

A teenage indentured servant from Ireland in 1764, Lyon by the end of the Revolution was a militia colonel, a developer of an iron manufacturing town, and a founder of the new state of Vermont, Colonel Lyon campaigned as much against the New York "Aristo-Tories" as against the ministers of George III. He and his fellow frontiersmen flirted with the British command until Congress recognized Vermont's statehood.

In 1801, at the age of 52, Lyon transplanted his family to the Kentucky frontier, founded a mercantile town, and was again elected to Congress. The last section of the book traces Lyon's vacillating political stance in the House between 1802 and 1810, his conflicts over using slave labor, his financial and political reversals during the war of 1812, and his final years as a U.S. Factor to the Cherokee Nation in the Arkansas Territory.

Aleine Austin, author of The Labor Story, has taught American history at Western Maryland College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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