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Chapter Fifty-Three. The impact of the Revolution on education

Melvin Yazawa

Subject History

Place Northern America » United States of America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics American War of Independence, education

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405116749.2003.00056.x


The American Revolution was never simply a movement for colonial independence. Partly of necessity, but primarily by choice, independent Americans were to be citizens of a republic. And because Americans seemed to be so advantageously positioned to attempt an experiment in republicanism, having been conditioned by colonial practices and being able to draw upon an accumulation of past wisdom, the fate of the new nation was supposed to determine once and for all whether men were capable of governing themselves without the benefit of kings or lords. The revolutionary generation, as Robert Livingston declared in 1787, was thus never destined for a “humble peace and ignominious obscurity.'' If they succeeded in proving a republican system to be workable and durable, their success would be emulated elsewhere in the world and the realm of liberty would be extended; if they failed, their failure would establish the limits of human aspirations. Revolutionary republicans confronted two major obstacles to success. First, in a republic, ordinary men must behave in an extraordinary fashion. For self-government to work, citizens must be willing to sacrifice their selfish interests for the good of the whole; otherwise, chaos reigns and the orderly rule of a monarch becomes a welcomed alternative. It was precisely this quality of “civic virtue” that was missing from past republican experiments ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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