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A Conservative Revolution

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A Conservative Revolution
Whether the American Revolution should be viewed as a conservative or radical movement is a hotly debated topic among historians, and each side provides a convincing case. Historians who view the movement as radical praise the colonists’ effort to send the British crown’s rule and effective implementation of a democratic government to the extent the world had never seen before. On the other hand, historians who view the American Revolution as a conservative movement note that Americans inherited the freest democratic society in the world, and see the movement as an inevitable breakaway from the British crown. Due to the subtlety of change within the government structure as a result of the preexisting democratic framework and the small percentage of the population that actually gained utility from these efforts, the American Revolution can be viewed as less of a radical revolution and more of a conservative movement by white male colonists to continue to exercise a form of democratic government they had had before King George started further implementing oppressive British policies.
Louis Hartz highlights characteristics that not only make the American Revolution unique from other revolutions around the world, but also more conservative in comparison. Hartz claims that America was a unique case because the Revolutionary effort was not an “effort to build a new society on the ruins of an old society,”1 as all other revolutions of the time were, but rather an effort to preserve most of what they had inherited and rid themselves of Britain’s tyrannical policies that kept America from being autonomous. Hartz argues that Americans were “bred in a freer world” so therefore they were “animated by a different set of passions and looked forward to different goals”2 than other revolutionists around the globe. Thus Americans did not have a…...

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