Radicalism of the American Revolution Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Since the author breaks down the book into three main categories, and then further breaks down the categories into chapters, the book has logical breaking points, and follows a rational chronology. It is easy to see, after reading this book, the stages our democracy evolved through, and how these systematic stages clearly affected the ultimate result. From Monarchy to Republicanism to Democracy, each section is like a stepping-stone for the founding fathers, and they had to cover each step to find the final pathway to freedom and self-rule.

What is most interesting about this book is that the author's theories are so radical, and that no one, or very few, acknowledged them before. The author's main thesis, that radical thought created the American Revolution, instead of conservative thought that led to determination and revolt, does not seem so radical today, and indeed, the author acknowledges that in the book. Today, the revolutionaries would not be seen as far from "normal" thought, but at the time, their feelings and desires were quite new and different for the world. The author also maintains that ultimately, the democracy these radical thinkers created was far different from other democracies, and perhaps even far different from what they had originally conceived. They created a new society for the "common" man, a society that recognized the cohesion of people rather than their differences, and strove to bring people together under one common roof of leadership. It is also interesting to note that the author believes the leaders of the American Revolution truly hoped to create an enlightened society that understood it was totally responsible for its actions and its results. Wood notes, "They alone were responsible for what they thought and believed and for what would be thought and believed in the future by those they often called the 'millions unborn'" (Wood 190). Clearly, Wood's understanding of the early American revolutionaries is deep and all encompassing.

This book is interesting to read, even if it does sometimes seem too scholarly and pedantic for general readers. It is certainly more than a history book, it is a deeper look into the roots of the American Revolution, and the author covers a wide variety of influences, from the freedoms Englishmen enjoyed before they came to the New World, to the "religion" of Freemasonry that spread across America before the revolution. If there is any criticism, it may be that many of the author's sources were quite dated (from the 1960s and 1970s), even though this book was written in the early 1990s. It seems as if the author may have rooted out other, newer sources to complete his theories, but perhaps they simply did not exist. As it is, the book is a compelling look at the foundations of our country from a new perspective, and I would recommend it to others who were interested not just in the nuts and bolts of history, but in the theories and organization behind it.


Wood, Gordon S., the Radicalism of the American…

Sources Used in Document:


Wood, Gordon S., the Radicalism of the American Revolution. New York: Vintage, 1993.

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