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The Age of the Democratic RevolutionA Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800$
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R. R. Palmer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161280.001.0001

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The American Revolution: The People as Constituent Power

The American Revolution: The People as Constituent Power

Chapter:
(p.159) Chapter VIII The American Revolution: The People as Constituent Power
Source:
The Age of the Democratic Revolution
Author(s):

R. R. Palmer

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691161280.003.0008

This chapter argues that the American Revolution was a political movement, concerned with liberty, and power. Most of the ideas involved were by no means distinctively American. There was nothing peculiarly American in the concepts, purely as concepts, of natural liberty and equality. They were admitted by conservatives, and were taught in the theological faculty at the Sorbonne. Nor could Americans claim any exclusive understanding of the ideas of government by contract or consent, or the sovereignty of the people, or political representation, or the desirability of independence from foreign rule, or natural rights, or the difference between natural law and positive law, or between certain fundamental laws and ordinary legislation, or the separation of powers, or the federal union of separate states. All these ideas were perfectly familiar in Europe, and that is why the American Revolution was of such interest to Europeans.

Keywords:   American Revolution, political movement, liberty, power, political ideas

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