The Era of the American Revolution: Studies Inscribed to Evarts Boutell Greene

By Richard B. Morris | Go to book overview

The office of Commander in Chief: A Phase of Imperial Unity on the Eve of The Revolution

CLARENCE E. CARTER

IN RECENT years the investigation of the causes of the American war for independence has been pursued along novel lines. It has notably been the vogue to attribute the Revolution to such movements and interests, among others, as the so-called conflict between social classes, involving a supposed democratic upheaval; sectional divisions within the colonies; and even western land problems. Contributions to knowledge respecting these phases of the early Revolutionary era have, admittedly, supplied an abundance of authentic and useful information; but the very multiplicity of the new theories renders it most unlikely that any one of them involves a fundamental or even a principal cause of the Revolution. Although such approaches to an interpretation are, to be sure, not wholly irrelevant in that they have drawn attention to interesting and possibly significant contributory factors, they are nevertheless pervaded by a common weakness.

It is, of course, indubitable that the causes of the Revolution were complex, that no single explanation will suffice. Yet in the exploration of the field to discover new attributions of causes there has been an evident tendency, as is true of many microscopic studies, to overlook obvious elements which a realistic view of that epoch must necessarily envisage if a balanced historical perspective is to be restored and maintained. As an instance, the general failure to give adequate place to the distinctive and growing fear in America of an ultimate consolidation of the colonies under a regime that might become wholly military has not, since Bancroft's day, received the emphasis which it not only deserves but demands. We hasten to advise, however, that the present chapter

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