Skip to comments.The Americanness of the American Revolution
Posted on 06/17/2013 6:15:52 PM PDT by Lorianne
Why was the American Revolution, of all great revolutions, the only successful one, resulting in two centuries and more of unexampled freedom and prosperity? The French Revolution, by contrast, illuminated by Americas example and Enlightenment thought, began in blissful optimism but collapsed into a blood-soaked tyranny much worse than the monarchy it deposed. It spawned a military dictatorship that convulsed Europe and roiled half the globe for over a decade with wars of grandiose imperial aggression that slew at least 3 million. And the result of 25 years of turmoil? The Bourbon monarchy, minus the Enlightenment of its earlier incarnation, settled comfortably back down on its throne.
The Russian Revolution switched one despotism for another; and a century later, after the millions of deaths from its purges, slave camps, and intentionally inflicted famines, Russia remains a despotism, without rights or justice. We all get only one life: imagine someone born under the billowing flags of the new Soviet Union in 1917, who had to live that whole single life without the freedom so much as to speak the truth of the squalid, oppressive reality he saw in front of his own eyes. One single lifeand what you can make of the one you have depends so much on what others have done to mold the time and place in which you live.
The Founders knew that truth so well that they announced their nationhood by significantly changing John Lockes catalog of natural rights
(Excerpt) Read more at city-journal.org ...
There is SO much neat stuff here in FreeRepublic
Very interesting. One point missing in the article is the Articles of Confederation. Out nation could have been an abject failure if it wasn’t a willingness to recognize that a new constitution was needed and a desire by the original states to work towards that goal.
There, fixed that.
The notion the the so-called "Enlightenment" was a good thing may have some basis if one looks at only English, Scottish and American writers and thinkers -- the Continental phase with Rousseau and Voltaire, and the choice of the name "Enlightenment" for a movement which by its end became virulently anti-Christian, were plainly the work of demons and their human dupes.
Actually, I think it was really the Englishness of the American revolution that caused it to succeed. There were other revolutions which preceded it and paved the way: the revolt of the barons that forced the Magna Carta on a reluctant King John, who surely like all monarchs of his day would have preferred to rule as an autocrat; the “Glorious Revolution” which established that Parliament had the right to change the succession to the throne.
The American Revolution like the English precedents, and unlike the French and Russian Revolutions, was principally the landed classes seeking to vindicate their rights against an overweening central government.
“no Man shall be taxed, but with his own Consent”
whoa there, we can work with this
It's the central point. The monarchs of Europe used the Catholic religion and Pope to bind their subjects to them.
Rejection of that compact - "We have no King but Jesus" - is the fundamental tenet of the Revolution.
"All men are created equal" - means no man is born a king, unlike what the European royal families asserted for 1000 years.
Obviously the Magna Carta in England and the Catharist movement (leading to the Albigensian slaughter) are foundational events. But without both, you don't get to "the People are sovereign".
And that's the fundamental inversion of Catholic Europe's society that resulted in America.
The French Revolution- where they wanted to worship human reason... and reaped the inevitable result.
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.- John Adams
The American Revolution succeeded because, at their core, the Founders were men of a Judeo-Christian bent, whose understanding of the universe and politics was in that light, no matter how remote some of them thought God was. Robespierre and the other bloodstained creatures who came after him, like Lenin, Stalin, and their ilk imagined that man could create a workable, even perfect society, and their attempts are mostly notable for the amount of murders committed in a vain effort to do so. As Adams noted, our very structure of government was designed for people whose notions were guided by Christianity, and to deviate from that is to destroy the structure of our government.
I think that too little attention has been paid to what, precisely, the settlers of the New World were running from. The history of Europe was one of nearly constant warfare from the earliest days - what the Pilgrims fled would become the Thirty Years' War shortly after they bade farewell to their old countries, in the meantime hoping to avoid religious conflict in the Netherlands, of all places, itself embroiled in 80 years' warfare against the Habsburgs which would not be settled until 1648. At which point England would plunge into its own civil wars. By comparison, unsettled wilderness populated by "savages" looked pretty good.
It didn't stop there. The French and Indian War was, in fact, four wars, each of which started in Europe: King William's war (that would be the same William of Orange who was the victor in the Glorious Revolution in 1688), Queen Anne's war, King George's war, and finally the Seven Years' War whose New World tendrils sent a young George Washington riding toward Canada. These were, respectively, the War of the League of Augsburg, or Nine Years' War, the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession, and the little problem Frederick the Great had with Maria Theresa of Austria.
The point is that there was a very strong element in simply having done with European complications by 1763 - none of those wars were started in the New World and the complaint in the Declaration of Independence that King George III had armed savage tribes against the settlers was not only true but only part of the whole story. The English taxation was, in part, to recover costs they had incurred in the Seven Years' War; the American resentment was that they had fought in it as well and didn't owe any outsiders a dime. When the very minimal Stamp Act was instituted the British rightfully considered it a token, and the Americans the same - it was truly taxation without representation, and that's all it took. Pitt knew this. And so, in the end, did George III, who was no monster but had to look to the validity of crown power at a time when that was to be challenged as never before. This was little more than a century since an English King lost his head, after all. It was no game.
That it ended the way it did is a credit to all involved, I think. The French never did solve it, vacillating between various Louises and Napoleons until late 19th century. The Russians solved it by killing everyone and embracing a new aristocracy more authoritarian than the old. The Americans squabbled about the proper relationship of citizen to state, state to federation. It was in no sense the same thing.
The reason for it all, I suggest, was twofold: first, a sense that Americans really were a separate people even if we were by no means homogeneous, and second, that a group of men with simply astonishing political acumen stepped forward to lead the thing. I am by no means being chauvinistic in observing that such minds as Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, Mason, Henry, both Adamses, the list goes on and on, were something as refined as anything the Old World could offer at the time and without the strictures of an existing class structure that had to be broken in blood elsewhere. Some of this was a product of the New World society that engendered it, most of it was sheer luck. God has been very good to us.
All IMHO and I should, as always, be grateful for correction.
Let me distill this down to the essentials.
I look at those Founding Fathers and don’t see a single political leader today, of either party, who’d be worthy to be a footman for one of those men. All seemed to have a grasp on human nature—it’s fallibility and capability—which no one has today.
It’s telling that neither party insists on the checks and balances in new legislation—which all of the Founders took for granted (and which have allowed our republic to last so long...).
Unrestricted government power—the very thing our constitution so carefully tried to subvert—is slowly (and not so slowly) coming in full force.
One party, with the Media and the Academy loudly cheering and propagandizing, gleefully rushes into tyranny, while the other party dim-wittedly goes along with it—so as not to look stupid.
Just like the Rennaisance vs the Dark Ages. I can’t wait till the historians name this era after the Lord returns and the real Light of the World rules. This will be considered the black hole age.
What happened in Europe from about 1618 on was that people went from killing one another over religion to killing one another over nationality and politics. I'm told it was an improvement but then I'm told a lot of strange things. ;-)
"So Americans didnt take up arms to create a new world order according to some abstract theory. They sought only to restore the political liberty they had actually experienced for 150 years, and they constructed their new government to preserve it.
"The Protestantism of the Founding Fathers also helped the Revolution succeed. Their Protestant worldview placed an intense value on the individualhis conscience, the state of his soul, his understanding of Scripture, his personal relation to God, his salvation. It was an easy step for them to assume that, as each man was endowed by his Creator with an immortal soul immediately related to God, so he was similarly endowed with rights that are not the Donation of Law, as Constitution signer William Livingston put it, but prior to all political Institution and resulting from the Nature of Man. It was easy for them to assume, therefore, that the individual, not the state, took center stage in the human drama. They saw the state as merely instrumental to the fate of the individual."
The first paragraph cited here states an oft-overlooked fact, but one mentioned on P. 51 of "Our Ageless Constitution," in a section discussing the "spirit of the people who had been experimenting successfully with liberty for over 165 years when the Constitution was framed."
The second paragraph quoted above regarding the Protestantism of the Founding Fathers also is discussed on P. 51 of "Our Ageless Constitution," citing Edmund Burke's assertions in his 1775 "Speech on Conciliation. . . ." Burke attributed what he called the "fierce spirit of liberty" of the colonists as having its roots in their religion, and particularly in that of their Protestantism, saying that, under a variety of denominations agreeing in nothing but in the communion of the spirit of liberty, they displayed a "love of freedom" which was "the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole. . . ."
Since the American population was less than one half of one percent Catholic, I think that Protestant is a pretty accurate description.
Americans had escaped Europe and knew what they wanted here.
That was, actually, my point. But I think you'd agree that "Protestant" covers an awful lot of ground.
Not really, I think that it was an American, Protestant, revolution from what had been in the distant past largely an English culture of the principals.
It was unique because it was American Protestants, they knew what they did not want to be like or become.
It has been nearly fifty years, but I appreciate each day what that professor was attempting to communicate.
Revolution connotes rebellion and revolt which quite properly apply to what occurred a few years later in France.
What happened in the beginning of this nation was something much more special than to be called a rebellion or a revolt.
The War for Independence had a dual meaning. It was fought for an independence based upon individual freedom as well as a collective independence built upon the sovereignity of the nation state.
Alas the New World Order has taken over, and we are neither individually independent and with our open borders we are no longer sovereign.