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How Revolutionary Was The American Revolution?

1943 words - 8 pages

The American Revolution would lead one of the greatest countries in the world. A superpower, at the forefront of innovation. It would become an example, a beacon, for freedom, and liberty everywhere. But how much of this was really due to the American Revolution? The American Revolution was truly revolutionary in many ways, including the new ideas of Political Equality of the Classes, Inalienable Rights, and Consent of the Governed.

The American Revolution caused the movement of Political Equality for all people, despite class or birth, through many ways, including the abolishment of Primogeniture, the participation of the middle-class in politics, and the increase in lower class land ownership, compared to tenancies. In a quote in his autobiography, Thomas Jefferson explained the need to abolish primogeniture. “As forming a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of ancient or future aristocracy; and a foundation laid for a government truly republican...The abolition of primogeniture, and equal partition of inheritances removed the feudal and unnatural distinctions which made one member of every family rich, and all the rest poor, substituting equal partition, the best of all Agrarian laws.” In this quote Thomas Jefferson emphasizes the problems in British primogeniture, and how abolishing it he has improved society. Primogeniture was an important part of maintaining a feudal, aristocratic society, as it kept wealth in the hands of the few. Some may say that this concentration of family wealth keeps the economy prosperous, feeding back large amounts of consumerism, however in reality the wealth of the few, cannot outweigh the poverty of the many. The fact that the US was one of the first post-medieval countries to abolish this practice, was one of the leading causes of the widespread birth of Laissez-Faire economics. Statistics from the ‘William and Mary Quarterly’, a historical journal, show the change in middle-class participation after the Revolution. The colonial legislatures of New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey all had significantly wealthy Representatives. In 1765, 36% of Representatives were classified as ‘Wealthy’ (over £5000), 47% were classified as ‘Well-To-Do’ (£2000-£5000), and 17% were classified as ‘Moderate’ (£500-£2000). In 1785, for the State Legislatures, those respective numbers were 12%, 26%, and 62%. This shows, for one of the first times in history, the middle class is taking a role in politics. Contrary to the feudal, monarchical, and aristocratic governments in the past, the majority of the people were taking part in their government. Even though there had been previous republics in the past, none of them had paid so little attention to economic status. For the first time in history, a government truly represented their people. Although the government still favored the educated, this was an important step. In Europe, government was the place for the wealthy elites, not the impoverished masses. This would...

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