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stand on the same level as the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution of 1917, because the changes that it implied were not achieved by the thorough bloodshed that these two encountered, there were many keen to develop the subject of radicalism in the American Revolution, mainly through the changes it implied after its achievement rather than through the means these changes were obtained during the Revolution itself.
In this sense, perhaps the first idea we should be referring to when discussing the Radicalism of the American Revolution is the fact that it was a "catalyst of social change"
The American society up to the Revolution was characterized by the same hierarchical structures that dominated every territory of the British Empire. As a colony, the American territories were ruled by the King's representative, who was on top of the pyramid. The aristocracy, mostly British, subsequently followed down the line, including the British colonists, while the peasantry and especially the native population and the slaves were at the bottom of the pyramid.
The Revolution, the ideals that it promoted of democracy and social change, did not necessarily change this structure into an equalitarian one, but it contributed to creating an equal status for most White males. As Gordon S. Wood mentions in his book, they destroyed what were the "ligaments...that had held the old monarchical society together"
. Breaking these interconnections and changing the existing relations in society is a sign of radicalism in the American Revolution.
Notice, however, that the African-American population, still enslaved, as well as the Indian natives and women, were not included in this hierarchical reformation and would not be so until later in the 19th century (the African-Americans) or even the beginning of the 20th century. However, significant social changes were a sign of the radicalism of the American Revolution.
A second thing we need to consider when discussing radicalism in this case refers to political changes. Indeed, the American Revolution produced political changes whose reverberations were felt not only on a local and national level, but also on the European continent, especially during the French Revolution. Indeed, if we refer historically to the American Revolution, this was the first place where a successful republic and republican institutions were founded and actually functioned. By the time of the beginning of the French Revolution, these were already well in place and the first American president was beginning his mandate.
The importance of this act cannot be underestimated. The Americans had provided a successful revolutionary act that replaced the monarchical government with a republic, elaborated a Constitution and paved the way for a smooth republican regime. This showed other countries that such a radical experiment could actually work in their countries as well and France was the first to test it.
As a corollary to the thing I have discussed here above, we should not underestimate the role of the "American revolutionary school." I am referring here to several French revolutionaries that had fought for the achievement of the American Revolution, people like Lafayette, for example. These young enthusiasts could then return to France with the revolutionary ideas seeded and lead the bourgeoisie to its own victory.
Although it was never proclaimed as such, the American Revolution succeeded in successfully exporting its ideas overseas, something which the Russian Revolution has also attempted, although it has never succeeded. Even if we cannot refer to typical revolutionary ideas here, the fact that the American Revolution had a universal character cannot actually be denied.
Following the same source, we can come up with another argument for the radicalism of the American Revolution: "it focused and released the energies of an expansive imperial people"
. I adhere to this opinion, because it seems to be the foremost argument for radicalism, through the consequences and subsequent evolution of American history.
Indeed, the creation of the American people through the American Revolution and especially the defeat of the British created the impression of a protected people, something that it still quite actual today, despite the attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent terrorist threat. The American Revolution was the first step in giving the Americans the confidence to pursue their goal, to reach the status of global power and, later, of…[continue]
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