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The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood

            Historians argue if the American Revolution was democratic in nature. Recent work suggests that the people who fought in it hoped that it would be, and many of the state constitutions that emerged in the aftermath of the conflict, especially in Pennsylvania, reflected highly democratic tendencies for the time allowing all white males, and a few free blacks to vote. But the aftermath of the Revolution turned away from these principles, as new constitutions were written that were aimed more at preserving property and by extension, political power of elites than anything approaching democracy. Some historians, mostly Gordon Wood, argued that that the Revolution had so destroyed traditional patterns of hierarchy that a new democratic order emerged in spite of the efforts of its opponents. And, by the 1820s, all white men could vote, and American culture, as well as politics, had become a white man's democracy.
             The entire premise of Gordon Wood's history of the American Revolution is intended to challenge the existing history on the subject.  Early in his introduction to The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Wood observes the differences between the American and other nations revolutions in terms of the conditions that existed and the objectives of the revolutionaries. I believe that Wood was interested in the uniqueness of the American Revolution.  He was interested in the questions of why the revolution occurred when the conditions that historically fueled the revolutionary which was poverty and economic deprivation, did not exist to an appreciable degree.  As the author writes, ". . .the white American colonists were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial chains to throw off.  In fact, the colonists knew they were freer, more equal, more prosperous, and less burdened with cumbersome feudal and monarchical restraints than any other part of mankind in the eighteenth century.

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