Revisiting, Revising, and Reviving America's Founding Era

6252 Words26 Pages
Most Americans nowadays like to think that they have the American Revolution pretty well figured out. Conventional wisdom starts the saga in 1763 when Britain, saddled with debt at the close of the Seven Years' War, levied new taxes that prompted her American colonists to resist, and then to reject, imperial rule. Having declared independence and defeated the British, American patriots then drafted the constitution that remains the law of the land to this day. With George Washington's inauguration as president in 1789, the story has a happy ending and the curtain comes down. This time-honored script renders the road from colonies to nation clear, smooth, and straight, with familiar landmarks along the way, from Boston's Massacre and Tea…show more content…
They believed that these years were the most important in American history, indeed the most important in the history of the world. "'Tis not the affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent--of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe," insisted Thomas Paine in January 1776, urging Americans toward independence. "'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now." Fifty years later Jefferson, reflecting on the meaning of July 4, 1776, echoed Paine on that moment's significance. "May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and assume the blessings of self-government." Thanks to the Revolution, Jefferson concluded, "All eyes are
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