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Gentlemen RevolutionariesPower and Justice in the New American Republic$
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Tom Cutterham

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172668

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172668.001.0001

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(p.66) Chapter Three Justice
Gentlemen Revolutionaries

Tom Cutterham

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at how American gentlemen developed arguments against the confiscation of loyalist property after the war was over. The popularity of confiscation policies posed an important challenge to the sanctity of property rights, one of commercial gentility's most fundamental principles. So when gentlemen came to the defense of their former enemies, against the will of ordinary citizens, it was an important moment in the formation of an American ruling class. Cosmopolitan ideas of natural law and universal rights came face to face with the democratic potential of the revolution. The result was a series of compromises and reverses that left gentlemen increasingly frustrated with the power of popular legislatures, especially when confiscation and related policies seemed to threaten the United States' diplomatic and commercial relationships.

Keywords:   American gentlemen, loyalist property, confiscation policies, property rights, commercial gentility, American ruling class, natural law, universal rights

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