David Zeisberger: A Life among the Indians

By Earl P. Olmstead; David Zeisberger | Go to book overview
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19
A Hard, Bloody, and Tragic Business, 1775

THE CONCEPTS of liberty and equality, the central theses of classical liberalism, have deep roots in Western culture. They can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Later they were confirmed and expanded by the reformers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The thoughts of the American founders were shaped by eighteenth-century Enlightenment writers such as the Englishman John Locke and the Frenchmen Montesquieu, Diderot, Rousseau, and above all Voltaire. Their writings inspired Thomas Jefferson to sound the call, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal." In the twelve years preceding the Revolution, the caldron of political and social discontent had been boiling. Now, in 1775, it spilled over and marked the beginning of a new world epoch.1

Bruce Catton, writing about the Revolution, said, "A romantic haze has settled down over the whole affair, and when we look through it the facts tend to be a little blurred. And what is most worth remembering -- the thing that so often escapes us -- is the fact like all of history's wars, the war of the American Revolution was a hard, bloody, and tragic business -- a struggle to the death that we came very close to losing."2

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