In this description and analysis of the organization of the revolutionary movement in New York, Bernard Mason focuses upon the intricate political alignments which the cause of independence created. He finds that the revolutionaries, contrary to the long-standing thesis, formed a decisive majority, although their effectiveness was hampered by vacillation and by a protracted struggle for leadership. Despite the timidity of the Whig leaders, the polemicists gave vent to their militancy and public attitudes tended to lead rather than follow those of the politicians. Moreover, independence was only half of the great question. Intertwined with it was the nature of the state government itself. Mr. Mason clarifies the confusion and obscurity which surrounded the creation of the first state constitution, pointing out the many alternatives which were widely discussed.
Mason rejects Becker's thesis of class conflict as being a significant factor in New York, although it did have a muted and diffused role in shaping the structure of the revolutionary organization. The very nature of the strife with the parent nation did, however, open the doors of power to the middle class farmers, who were learning political self-reliance and independence.