The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Published: 2021-06-29 06:54:20
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Category: Book Reports

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The Transformation of a Gentleman within a Political Society

In Gordon Wood's, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, there is a reoccurring them of the idea of a "gentleman." In his book, Wood provides a descriptive account of the transformation for the early American colonist from Europe. He dynamically links this transition with the cultural definition of a "gentleman" as a status symbol. People's desire for the identity and attainability of a "gentleman" status changes throughout the course of this novel. These changes lead to different types of government structures. Wood breaks down the transformation of the government for American colonies into three main categories; Monarchy, Republicanism and Democracy.

Wood begins describing the character of early America through its European link to a Monarchy. He explains a vertical, hierarchical, relationship under the king. This hierarchical relationship assigns everyone to a specific role starting with the king at the top and the commoners at the bottom of society. If a person is assigned the role of "commoner" and believes that poverty is virtuous, then this allows that type of governmental structure to work. There is a codependent relationship with the people at the top being respected from the people at the bottom. Wood illustrates this codependency with examples of "Patrician and Plebeian" and patronage thought this section of the book. The role of a "gentleman" under Monarchy is very desirable but not easily attained. The definition of a gentleman in this type of society is one that descends from a specific linage, preferably royal, with a specific social status and acceptance from his peers.

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