Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution

Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution

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Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution

Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution

Read FREE!

Excerpt

In the closing quarter of the eighteenth century life moved swiftly in America as elsewhere. After a period of self-examination at once intense and profound, emerging in determined and confident effort, the people of this country succeeded in achieving their independence, only to be thrown at once into the maelstrom to which an imperfect and inconclusive development of the principle of nationality inevitably leads. Wrestling for another decade with the elements of disunion and anarchy inherent in the situation, they sought an issue from their troubles in the creation of a new constitution. No sooner was this accomplished than the regime thus erected was wrenched to its innermost core by a conflict, exceedingly bitter, of forces to some extent old but largely new. The young republic contended not only with ideas and sentiments of native historic growth and worth, but with certain new and very captivating ones that came, at least in their more striking and militant form, from that very Old World from which the New thought itself finally and completely free. A fierce ferment of discussion, occasioned not only by questions of American political and economic life proper, but also by the aspirations and efforts of another country, now broke out and filled the first decade of our national life with clamor and excitement. Party strife, which was, of course, inevitable under the new constitution, took on a color strangely foreign in character.

"The reason was," as Colonel Higginson points out, "that the French Revolution really drew a red-hot ploughshare through the history of America as well as through that of France. It not merely divided parties, but moulded them; gave them their demarcations, their watchwords and their . . .

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