The Radicalism of the American Revolution - Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Gordon S. Wood
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The revolutionaries have no desire to replace one class with another. Their goal is to destroy the "secret bonds of society," family, blood, and personal influence. They wish to substitute republican adhesives. Committees and congresses rework the structures of society from the bottom up, while mobs drag anyone suspected of living off royal patronage to intricate, intimidating interrogations aimed at making them recant and swear new oaths of fidelity. Oath taking remains as important as under the old regime, because the patriots realize they are doing precisely what the Tories charge. They're dissolving society on the pretext of virtue and creating new attachments to the "body of the people." Elaborate ceremonies underline the solemnity of what is happening.

Lacking the concept of nationalism to bind society, the 18th century turns vertical personal bonds horizontally, man-to-man. Natural affinities of love and benevolence are less demanding than classical republican virtue, which history...

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This section contains 808 words
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