Tuesday, July 4, 2017
The revolving revolution of 1776
From an op-ed in The Washington Times here:
"This was the object of the Declaration of Independence," [Jefferson] wrote in a letter to Henry Lee in May 1825. "Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take."
In that vein, the "revolution" was conservative and indeed conforms to Edmund Burke's original use of the word with its common meaning of something revolving. A full revolution returns affairs to an original condition.
It wasn't about being original in the sense of being new; it was about telling the world who we are as Americans. "Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion," Jefferson added.