The Radicalism of the American Revolution - Study Guide Part 2, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Gordon S. Wood
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The first step in constructing a new republican society is enlightening the people. Love and gratitude must replace fear and favor as social adhesives. The hardheaded and practical revolutionary leaders' vision is breathtaking and utopian. They are optimistic, forward-looking and convinced the future is in their hands. Republican laws can create, nurture and motivate "habitual virtue." Formal schooling has its place, but many means, literary and symbolic, are used to create new attitudes and remake culture. Astonishingly, these obscure provincials see themselves as a vanguard for the Western world. Natural science is flourishing, religion is being tempered, tyranny is being thrown off, and new governments are being formed.

Enlightenment calls for decreasing pain and making life easier and more comfortable, materially and morally. Americans feel they are more civilized and humane than the British, because they have adopted peaceful, benevolent republican governments. Cruel...

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This section contains 1,194 words
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