Preliminaries of the Revolution, 1763-1775

By George Elliott Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE CASE OF THE LOYALISTS (1763-1775)

SOCIAL progress is made in two ways -- by evolution and by revolution; through right reason and through catastrophe.1 In the life of a people a crisis may come when violence seems to be the only means of advancement; but advancement by violence is terribly expensive in property, in morals, and in human lives. In this regard the American Revolution was no exception to the rule. Unlike the French Revolution, it was mainly political and not social: there were no frightful abuses of ancient class privilege to redress, for the old colonial system was in no way the result of conscious oppression. Its cardinal principles took their rise in economic ignorance, and very soon would have become a dangerous hindrance to social evolution had they been rigidly enforced.

Just here is the anomaly of the situation. The American Revolution differs from all other revolu-

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1
See the instructive paper of Andrew D. White, Evolution and Revolution. A body of selected arguments on both sides, in Hart, Contemporaries, II., chaps. xxiii-xxvii.

-313-

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