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"Retrieving The American Past" And Gordon Wood's Novel "The American Revolution".

1781 words - 7 pages

Equality means different things to different people. Many historians, from the "Retrieving the American Past" viewed "inequality and the deference of inferiors to superiors were crucial to the maintenance of political and social order"(Newell, 65).According to Gordon Wood, equality was "the most powerful idea in American history." Both these sources provide some valuable insight to what went on before, during, and after the revolution, which allows Americans from this century to gain perspective on what equality should mean. Before the revolution America was not a land of "pleasing equality"; however, after the revolution America still wasn't able to create a society without prejudice and a government without corruption.In Gordon Wood's novel "The American Revolution," he discussed the revolution as "no longer merely a colonial rebellion ...nearly every piece of writing was filled with extraordinarily visionary hopes for the transformation of America."(91). Each American had high expectations of what was to become of their country. Anything to make them further apart from Britain and the monarchy was gladly accepted. They wanted to achieve a government and society based on liberty and freedom, something that most countries saw as a society of rebelliousness and unordered, but Americans didn't care, they won their freedom and knew that there had to be a better way to run a government and maintain a stable society. This is when a republic came into the minds of Americans.Republicanism became more than an idea; it became a reality within the states. "In a republic individuals were no longer destined to be what their fathers were"(99). This was a huge change in colonial society. Everything up until that point was based on staying in your economic place; rarely were people able to overcome societal standards and achieve a higher status. "Independent American farmers who owned their own land had been regarded as primitive folk living on the edges of European civilization and in the backwaters of history. Instead, they could now be seen as equal citizens naturally equipped to realize the republicans' values intellectuals had espoused for centuries" (92,93). British societies had always worked in their hierarchical status; only the select few or the elite, were allowed to achieve great things. Those who went to America from Britain were always seen as uneducated, poverty-stricken men. In the eyes of the British it was "good riddance".Wood stated, "...the adoption of republicanism promised a new era of social harmony. But republican equality did not mean the elimination of all distinctions" (100). Some people still had a hard time adjusting and adapting to the ideas that the government was trying to place upon them. It wasn't entirely possible to force everyone to accept people from whom they used to discriminate against and to all of a sudden change their minds. Even the social elite, who developed the idea of republicanism and equality, still had their...

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