The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Nonetheless, it is important to point out, as progressive ideas extended by means of pamphlets, political tracts and books, the

The Radicalism of the American Revolution



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ch political phenomenon existed in absolute opposition to the monarchical organization of the society. Despite the fact that democracy brought to the reality many of the ideals proposed by the founding fathers, Professor Wood believes that its ultimate and absolute shape represented a higher grade of equality unexpected and possibly even unpredicted by the revolutionary leaders. However, to make such conclusion randomly is impossible. That is why Wood carries out a comprehensive research on the reorganization of American society that had taken place since the War for Independence. The author also speaks about the developing role of government within the society and the involvement of common people in state affairs. Professor Wood says that it symbolized a radical concept change. According to Wood, American individualism was an inevitable result of the possibility of social mobility. Furthermore, the development of commerce and suspension of conventional relationships serve as the evidence to verify this claim. Consequently, by describing the progression of the young American state, Wood asserts that a radical break was the result not only of the American Revolution, but possibly was achieved trough greater domination of the radical intellectual ideas of the time in the course of development.

To support his claims and conclusions Professor Wood uses a wide range of principal source material. The author employed different sources preparing his work: political tracts, diaries of prominent American people, popular literature, letter correspondence, and pamphlets. The author incorporates in his study economic and financial data, in order to back all the statements and give them true status. To support his theories throughout the work and to give exact and clear explanation to his thoughts Professor Wood uses the large amount of textual notes. Wood possibly could have advantage by making available models that are more direct and exact in order to demonstrate the significance of his claims regarding the radical nature of the American Revolution.

We realize that the significance of the information relayed within the book cannot be overestimated, for it makes possible for a reader to grasp the sense of intellectual and social undercurrents existing within society before during, and after the War for Independence. It also presents a clear picture of the development of the consequential democratic government. Along with all the advantages, we are bound to point out the moment that is supposed to be an omission of the author. Analysing the work we see that Professor Wood gives a detailed description of the American revolution from the top down, but it is essential to say that he somehow have not given a precise picture of the position of lower social groups. However, Gordon Wood writes about the status of slaves, women and Native Americans. Unfortunately, the importance he attaches to the questions of equality and social grading brought about by the intellectual advancement of the Revolution regards only white population, property holders (males) leaving aside lower classes that compose the majority of society. Wood's style along with clarity of his language and good researching skills make a skilful scholarly discourse on the radical ideology of the American Revolution. Moreover, being so skilfully written and presented the work entertains the audience throughout the pages.

This work is really a best synthesis of the questions relating to America's transformation from paternal colonialism unrestricted democracy. Professor Wood also argues successfully that the American Revolution as a historical event is very often neglected even within the world history that is worthy to have a prominent position along with French and Russian Revolutions.

In closer consideration, and having researched the problem we may state that Professor Wood swindles a little drawing out his theories. In other words, he a exaggerates little bit. In order to support his thesis about the development and impact of American Revolution, he has to offer a “before and after” depiction of American state. He does this by representing rather incomplete or prejudiced vision of the North American colonies before the start of Revolution. He repeatedly mentions the insignificance of the colonial cities, their economy, aristocracy and existing institutions. It is understandable that it forms synthetically diminished role of the colonial society and its institutions.

On the other hand, Gordon Wood rather truthfully illustrates the changing early colonial scenery. At first Professor says that primary the society was arranged and structured around hierarchy and individual relationships that progressed to a unrestrictive culture based on contacts. Wood clearly explains in his chapter on patronage that the early colonies principally had no other option than to function on an individual relationship basis. There was even no paper currency in use and rather small population kept personal book accounts of numerous debts they owed each other. Gordon Wood writes that “such credits and debts worked to tie local people together and to define and stabilize communal relationships” (p. 68). The author does not instantly connect this with the growth of population in the New World that represented actually a major reason for the transformation in the colonies that has led to the Revolution. The author says that by the middle of the eighteenth century, the colonists had accepted paper money. Professor claims that they needed it because colonies had expanded their inland trade. For example, they were no longer just dealing with their neighbours but also with across-the-ocean countries. These advancements, Wood stresses, offers the various ways in which common people were becoming more and more independent and liberated from conventional patron-client relationships (p. 142).

As for the negative moments, we again are bound to say that Wood obviously overstresses the extent to which the colonies, just before the Revolution, were hierarchical and old-fashioned, conventional cultures. The evidence he uses to support the idea is unreasonable. The author is speaking about the prevalence of Christian churches in this connection, and that this prevalence does not necessarily is a sign of a hierarchy (p. 18).

Repeatedly Professor Wood speaks about great freedom and equal opportunities in the colonies, but contradicts his opinion with further statements. For instance we may find within the book the statement that Englishmen on both sides of the Atlantic boasted of their independence”. But further he writes the contradictory “most colonists, like most Englishmen at home, were never as free as they made themselves out to be”.
The Radicalism of the American Revolution also contains many unrelated quotes. Therefore, some of Wood's stories are conflicting and of little importance as evidence to support his theories.

It is difficult not to conclude that the radical transformations chronicled by Wood were the outcome of plain population growth. It was neither the goal nor the result of the Revolution. Wood emphasizes several times that the modifications in American society were due to economics and demographics. Ultimately, Wood remarks that the Founders were stunned by the society in which they died. Wood writes that “This democratic society was not the society the revolutionary leaders had wanted or expected. No wonder, then, those of them who lived on into the early decades of the nineteenth century expressed anxiety over what they had wrought. All the major revolutionary leaders died less than happy”. (p. 365). So even accepting the thesis that newly born America was the result of the Revolution, according to Wood's verification was not the objective. Ignoring Wood's arguments and evaluating his evidence, it looks like the radical changes in American society were neither the goal of the Revolution nor its product.

Again as for the critiques, one issue raised by critics is the relationship among the three cultural phenomena monarchy, republicanism and democracy. In addition, the author described changes that took place between the middle of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth. The author is not persisting that these cultural models were patterns that displaced each other, republicanism displacing monarchy and democracy displacing republicanism. As an alternative, these models overlapped each other in time in the way that two or even more cultural forms could exist at the same time. However, the author says that it is difficult for a number of specialists to imagine a society structure possessing simultaneously unlike, even irreconcilable and contradictory cultural characteristics.

Nevertheless, with this book thousands of people were introduced to the colonial society. Woods book provides the kind of illustrative detail that will enable readers to participate imaginatively in colonial life. He has summarized the mounts of information about the colonies, mixed it with the commentaries of dozens of contemporary witnesses and rather skilfully submitted an interpretation of different fact he had in possession. Woods tendency throughout the book is to imply rather then to clarify, to put forward or advocate rather then argue, now and then pointing out how extremely dramatic were the social developments he described in his book. For the wide-ranging reading public, Professor Woods rhetorical mixture suggests the brilliant representation of early America and its development.

“The Radicalism of American Revolution” is a powerful and motivated work. Many call it a synthesis that aims reinterpret events that American people have long regarded as essential to their identity as a nation. Gordon Wood states his purpose right in the title of the book. His book explains the

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