Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The American Revolution: Not an upheaval, but a return, a restoration

From the story here:

First, there were those who admired the English constitution that they had inherited and studied. Believing they had been deprived of their rights under the English constitution, their aim was to regain these rights. Identifying themselves with the tradition of Coke and Selden, they hoped to achieve a victory against royal absolutism comparable to what their English forefathers had achieved in the Petition of Right and Bill of Rights. To individuals of this type, the word revolution still had its older meaning, invoking something that “revolves” and would, through their efforts, return to its rightful place—in effect, a restoration. Alexander Hamilton was probably the best-known exponent of this kind of conservative politics, telling the assembled delegates to the constitutional convention of 1787, for example, that “I believe the British government forms the best model the world ever produced.” Or, as John Dickinson told the convention: “Experience must be our only guide. Reason may mislead us. It was not reason that discovered the singular and admirable mechanism of the English constitution…. Accidents probably produced these discoveries, and experience has given a sanction to them.” And it is evident that they were quietly supported behind the scenes by other adherents of this view, among them the president of the convention, General George Washington.

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