In his analysis of the American Revolution, Nash refers to the "enshrined, mythic form" the event has taken on in human consciousness (59). Like the creation myths of religion, the story of the founding of the United States of America has become what Nash calls a "sacralized story" that nearly deifies the founding fathers (59). Taught to children in schools and propagated beyond the borders of the Untied States, this version of the American Revolution in which a unified group of colonists rose up together against the mean British tyrants is little more than a "fable," (Nash 59). The real story behind the American Revolution is far more complex and nuanced, testimony to the already diverse and heterogeneous population dwelling throughout the colonies. Even when the emphasis remains squarely on the events taking place in Massachusetts that precipitated the Revolution, it is clear that there was no one American Revolution. Rather, there were several simultaneous challenges to existing social and political institutions. The real American Revolution was one that challenged concepts of race, class, gender, and access to political and social power.
However, the mythologized version of the American Revolution does offer the opportunity to examine the symbols of social oppression that continue to be used in the struggle for social justice. The "no taxation without representation" chant goes beyond its original meaning related to the actual Stamp Act of 1765, to entail any situation in which the government abuses its powers. After Parliament passed the Stamp Act in March of 1765, the currents of discontent that had already been brewing in the colonies started to bubble and come to the surface. Colonial leaders had "always hoped" to suppress the voices of "lower class and enslaved hypocrisy. The majority of Americans at the time: women, non-whites, and the poor and ordinary masses recognized a common theme and an opportunity to rebel.
Class conflict promoted one of the first and most fundamental of the social revolutions taking place as part of the grand American Revolution. Colonial leaders were elitist, usually loyalist, white men. Their self-interests differed significantly from those of the people they managed in the colonies. Ensuring that only property owners could have voting rights was one of the primary issues fomenting inter-group tension during the late eighteenth century. The fictional "Dialogue Between Orator Puff and Peter Easy" encapsulates the opposing views on whether property ownership entitles a man (and only a man) to political enfranchisement. It is clear from this discourse that the elites feared losing their tenuous grip on power; they feared what the masses might have to say, and feared a restructuring of society. The fear of a democratic society seems poignantly ironic to modern Americans, and yet the struggle for genuine freedom and equality persists centuries after the Revolution. Women and people of color continue to be largely bereft of social, economic, and political power. The struggle continues.
Just as the Stamp Act symbolized the oppression of the masses by the elite moneyed class, it also represented the oppression of blacks by whites. While white colonists protested the yoke of the Crown, black colonists protested the yoke of slavery. In 1780, blacks in Massachusetts saw the general hypocrisy at play in the white Revolutionary rhetoric. Black activists began to stake their claim at social revolution, noting that after so many…
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