Age of Revolutions

By Richard D. Brown

Most scholars agree that the American Revolution, in contrast to the French, Soviet, and Chinese revolutions did not generate any radical alteration of the social or economic order.  And in contrast to the other revolutions, many of the same political leaders remained in power in the new United States after independence as had ruled prior to 1776.  Indeed, the transition from colonial assemblies to republican legislatures was almost seamless.  Like the social and economic regimes that pre-dated 1776, the political structures Americans created for the new United States bore more than passing resemblance to those of the colonial era.  In two states, Connecticut and Rhode Island, governments organized according to 17th-century English charters remained in place.  Though independence from imperial rule certainly marked a significant break with the past, many have questioned whether independence per se qualifies as revolution.

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