Radicalism Of American Revolut Essay

1510 words - 6 pages

By: Robert Smith ?Radicalism of the American Revolution? By Gordon S. Wood Gordon Wood?s Radicalism of the American Revolution is a book that extensively covers the origin and ideas preceding the American Revolution. Wood?s account of the Revolution goes beyond the history and timeline of the war and offers a new encompassing look inside the social ideology and economic forces of the war. Wood explains in his book that America went through a two-stage progression to break away from the Monarchical rule of the English. He believes the pioneering revolutionaries were rooted in the belief of an American Republic. However, it was the radical acceptance of democracy that was the final step toward independence. The transformation between becoming a Republic, to ultimately becoming a democracy, is where Wood?s evaluation of the revolution differs from other historians. He contributes such a transformation to the social and economic factors that faced the colonists. While Gordon Wood creates a persuasive argument in his book, he does however neglect to consider other contributing factors of the revolution. It is these neglected factors that provide opportunity for criticism of his book. The overall feeling one gets from reading Wood?s book is that republicanism was not a radical concept to the American colonists. Wood believed the American colonists had a deep- rooted concept of Republicanism that existed before revolutionary ideas were conceived. The idea of republicanism could be seen in the colonial belief in independence and self-sacrifice. These principles were the founding forces that led to the beginning of the revolution. Wood would seem to believe that these founding forces Smith pg.2 were not as radical as the transformation to democratic thought. It is here that Wood points out the ?uncontrollable? social and economic forces that leads republican thought to the progression of democracy. Wood believes the revolution was meant for the elite (gentlemen) and not for the colonists themselves. It is the colonist self-motivated social and economic interests, which leads to the transformation they had been yearning for. Wood contributes several different social and economic factors to the transformation. The first social factor that led to the reformation was the colonist self-interest. The colonist self-interest seemed to conflict with principles of republicanism. The self-interest of the colonists led to capitalistic traits, while the republican idea of self-sacrifice was put on the back burner. It was natural for the colonists to want to advance their social and economic standards to that of the elite. The problem being republican virtues had to be sacrificed to gain individual prominence. Social factors played an important role in the transformation from a monarchy to a democracy. However, there were also economic factors that played an intricate role. One such economic force was trade interaction among the colonists. People became independent on...

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