Diego Corral Philosophical Chairs – The American Revolution: Whose Revolution Was It? Objectives: 1.) Identify and understand the different schools of thought behind the explanation for the outbreak of the Revolution. 2.) Identify who was most affected by British policies leading up to Revolution. 3.) Identify the social strata of the leaders of the Revolution. 4.) Identify who benefited the most from Revolution, and who was negatively affected by it. Interpretations for the Origins of the American Revolution: 1.) Whig View of History: The American Revolution was another chapter in the pursuit of human liberty. These historians viewed it as a natural occurrence in the quest for moral perfection. Notable works: George Bancroft’s History of the United States of America. 2.) Imperial School: The Revolution was not an issue of national destiny, instead it was the result of two opposing viewpoints on empire. While the colonists were moving towards self-government, the British Empire attempted to further control them, thus resulting in revolution. Notable members: George Beer, Charles Andrews, and Lawrence Gipson. 3.) Progressive Historians: The Revolution’s origins can be found in the deepseeded class tensions in American society. Once the revolution began this tensions were released resulting in the transformation of the American social order. The question was not only “home rule” but “Who should rule at home?” Another consequence of this was that more men were inspired to seek economic and political power, in the process further democratizing society for a small minority. Notable members: Carl Becker, and J. Franklin Jameson. 4.) Consensus View: Originating during the 1950’s with the communist scare, this view is more or less a return towards the Whig view. It downplayed the role of class conflict but emphasized that all colonists shared a commitment to certain fundamental political principles of self-government. Notable members: Robert Brown, and Edmund Morgan. 5.) Ideological and Psychological Factors: A school of thought championed by Bernard Baylin, it relies on the power of ideas to foment revolutions. The colonists, who had been incited by political theorists like Thomas Payne, grew wary of any attempt by the British to further tighten their control. When the new taxes and commercial regulations came about the colonists were outraged, and eventually took to revolt. 6.) Neo-progressive View: This school believes that the increasing social and economic divisions within the urban seaports and the countryside where the origins for the Revolution. Attacks by laborers against political elite, and expressions of resentment towards wealth suggest that society was on its way to revolution with or without the help of the British. As opposed to the
Progressives they do not boil it down to simple economic concerns, instead they argue that the various economic circumstances of the participants led to different views on Republicanism. Description of Activity: After finishing Chapter 8 of The American Pageant, the students will read the VARYING VIEWPOINTS: “Whose Revolution?” We will then have a class discussion (around half of the class length), on the different schools of thought presented in the reading. They will then proceed to answer a series of questions individually during class; the questions will be handed in at the end of the period. They will then choose one of the schools of thought and write a 4 to 5 paragraph essay defending that point of view. 1.) What are the main ideological differences between the different schools of thought? 2.) What were the main events leading up to the revolution, and who did they affect the most? 3.) From what social group were most of the leaders of the Revolution? Description of assessment: The questions will be graded by the analysis of historical events and figures, and their eloquence in answering. The essay will be graded by their analysis, the use of outside information, organization of argument, and their persuasiveness.