Reply To: Daniel McCarthy on the American Revolution


Dan is looking at the War for Independence in the wrong way. It was not a revolution because the political order did not radically change though there were certainly those who advanced this position, but my view here is not the mainstream. Jefferson certainly called it a revolution, as did others, but he later called it an act of secession akin to the splitting of a church congregation. Which Jefferson is correct?

The war broke the “political bands which connected them” but did not transform society. The Declaration was an indictment of King George because they argued the colonies were his dominion, similar to the medieval lord’s domain and only he had jurisdiction because the colonies were not represented in Parliament. The center could regulate trade and defend the colonies but they had jurisdiction over local matters. This was a constitutional crisis.

The Straussians generally view the Declaration as a founding document because of the first lines of the second paragraph and for no other reason. In other words, the Declaration codified a certain “Americanism.” They ignore the last paragraph entirely.