Radicalism or Not of the American Revolution Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1492 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: American History

Radicalism - American Revolution

The colonial period in American history is a varied and interesting one. Indeed, there were so many tiers and sections in society that issues of equality, hierarchy, opportunity and oppression often ran parallel and were difficult to distinguish from each other. It is little wonder then that there are many disagreements among critics as to how exactly these different issues manifested themselves in the society of the time. From this disagreement, one could conclude that all four elements were indeed present in the society of the time, and that the manifestation of each depended on the perspective one would choose to take at any particular time.

Zuckerman, for example, cites various examples of critics who identify deference as it manifested itself in Colonial America. Some hold that deference was manifest as a remnant of the British society from which the Americans emerged. While in some cases it occurred parallel to British deference, i.e. towards persons with great wealth as having a higher status in society. Other forms of deference occurred towards persons with large amounts of property, or in the complex relationship between obligation and dependence. A servant for example would defer towards his or her employer. The final form of deference as cited by Zuckerman occurred between the general population towards those perceived to occupy an important position. This deference is a choice exercised by persons who perceived themselves as obliged to do so.

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Zuckerman goes on to refute this claim towards deference during Colonial times. Indeed, he goes so far as to say that persons who were assured of deference in England, had no such claim in the United States. A particular example of this is social authorities and lawmakers. Indeed, this is one area, according to Zuckerman, in which the new democracy most particularly manifested itself. Indeed, the voice of the people carried much more weight than the authority of lawmakers, bosses and the like. According to Zuckerman, authorities were obliged to adhere to the will of the people, or face dismissal. Justices of the peace and sheriffs for example had to keep pace with the preferences of the people. These authorities therefore had not claim to deference.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Radicalism or Not of the American Revolution Assignment

According to Zuckerman, the clergy were also not entitled to the same respect as the case would have been in England. They, as the sheriff and the justice of the peace, were obliged to provide the people with a message they wanted. In social settings they were also not particularly respected. This is a manifestation of the budding equality in the country. The general rules of deference no longer held. Persons immigrating from other countries came to the United States for the opportunities it offered. According to Zuckerman, even servants were more prosperous in the United States than they were as business or landowners in their own countries, as the author demonstrates with the anecdote of John Harrower.

Zuckerman therefore generally holds that the equality during colonial times was much more prominent than any shows of deference or respect for social or professional position, or towards persons with great wealth. Indeed, even in wealth people were not set as far apart in terms of rich and poor as in established countries. The United States was a newly incepted country, with opportunities that were free for all. In this, all citizens saw themselves as more or less equal to other citizens. People had many more rights than they did at the same social levels as they would have had in their home countries. This element of American democracy is what drew many immigrants.

Immigration also provided the United States with its unique ethnic composition. This is one of the manifestations of American life that provided the country with its reputation for equality and democracy. The increasing immigration numbers to the country during the Colonial years is a further testament to this.

Zuckerman therefore seems to be of the opinion that the Revolution was simply a manifestation of already-existing paradigms of equality in society. Hierarchy, according to the author, was practically non-existent during the time, and therefore the Revolution was both inevitable and merely a formality to establish what was already present in society.

According to Aaron S. Fogleman, critics such as Zuckerman do not take into account the various levels of servitude that existed in the United States particularly after the inception of slaves from Africa. Some servants had the freedom to, as Zuckerman claims, move from employer to employer, or to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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