Perspectives on Revolution and Evolution

Perspectives on Revolution and Evolution

Perspectives on Revolution and Evolution

Perspectives on Revolution and Evolution

Excerpt

The celebration of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution in 1976 was regarded as something more than a commemoration of the natal day of the Republic. For, as Robin Winks argued in the opening address to the International Bicentennial Conference on Revolution and Evolution in October 1976, the Revolution, while primarily a secession of the thirteen colonies from the British Empire, was different from all other revolutions. "The United States was founded squarely on the right of revolution and on the right to alter or abolish government." The French Revolution is sometimes credited with having introduced that concept of popular sovereignty into western society by the overthrow of one of Europe's oldest and most powerful monarchies in the name of "equality, liberty, and fraternity." But Seymour Martin Lipset reminded the Bicentennial Conference that the American Revolution had been an important factor in sparking the French Revolution. Furthermore, the American Revolution had preceded by almost half a century Britain's Reform Bill of 1832, which brought a limited degree of parliamentary democracy to replace the oligarchy of the Hanoverian period and established Britain as an example for liberal constitutional development. Meanwhile, the American Revolution and the drafting of the Constitution had already founded a national state that was stable and durable. The American Revolution was thus a landmark in the history of human society, the first successful anticolonial . . .

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