Sociology Index

American Revolution

French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Xinhai Chinese Revolution

The American Revolution occurred during the last half of the 18th century when thirteen of Britain's colonies in North America overthrew the governance of the Parliament of Great Britain, and also later rejected the British monarchy to join as the sovereign United States of America.

The colonies first rejected the authority of the Parliament to govern them without representation, forming self-governing independent states. These independent states through the Second Continental Congress then joined together against the British in the armed conflict from 1775 to 1783 which is known as the American The Revolutionary War or The American War of Independence.

In 1776, representatives from each of the original thirteen independent states voted unanimously in the Second Continental Congress to adopt a Declaration of Independence, which now rejected the British monarchy in addition to its Parliament. The Declaration established the United States, which was originally governed as a loose confederation through a representative government selected by state legislatures.

United States now rejected the legitimacy of the monarchy to demand allegiance. After the American victory in October 1781 there was a formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

American Revolution began a series of intellectual, political, and social shifts in early American society and government. The development of American republicanism was particularly significant, including election of a representative government rather than the prevalent plutocracies of the inherited aristocracies in Europe at the time.

The American Revolution and Historical Explanation - Whitmeyer, Joseph
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association
Abstract: A useful method for historical explanation is analysis in terms of power. This means assessing the power, or ability to affect the outcome in question, of focal actors and entities, determining their use of that power, and, perhaps, accounting for that use. The first of these depends, in part, methodologically on deductive theory: the power of one entity depends on what others can be expected to do, and theory can help assess that. The second is mostly historical accounting, but may need theory to determine what goals are feasible for actors. In the third, theory such as rational choice may be especially useful when the power-holding actor is an aggregate of individuals. These points are illustrated with examples drawn from the American Revolution.

Michael Zuckert, Political Science, Univ of Notre Dame, Social Philosophy and Policy (2005), CUP
Abstract: Robert Nozick worked in a Lockean tradition of political philosophy, a tradition with deep resonance in the American political culture. This paper attempts to explore the formative moments of that culture and at the same time to clarify the role of Lockean philosophy in the American Revolution. One of the currently dominant approaches to the American revolution emphasizes the colonists' commitments to their rights, but identifies the relevant rights as “the rights of Englishmen,” not natural rights in the Lockean mode. This approach misses, however, the way the Americans construed their positive or constitutional rights in the light of a Lockean background theory.

The Religious Roots of the American Revolution and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
David B. Kopel, Independence Institute - Journal on Firearms and Public Policy, Vol. 17, 2005
Abstract: This article examines the religious background of the American Revolution. The article details how the particular religious beliefs of the American colonists developed so that the American people eventually came to believe that overthrowing King George and Parliament was a sacred obligation. The religious attitudes which lead to an armed American revolution are an essential component of the American ideology of the right to keep and bear arms.

A New Economic Analysis of the American Revolution
Paul Hallwood, Ambyre Ponivas (University of Connecticut)
Abstract: We offer an analysis of the American Revolution in which actors are modeled as choosing the sovereign organization that maximizes their net expected benefits. Benefits of secession derive from satisfaction of greed and settlement of grievance. Costs derive from the cost of civil war and lost benefit of Empire membership. When expected net benefits are positive for both secessionists and the Empire civil war ensues, otherwise it is settled or never begins in the first place. The novelty of our discussion is to show how diverse economic and non-economic factors can be integrated into a single economic model.

From American Independence to the American Revolution
Rachum, Ilan, Cambridge University Press, Journal of American Studies
Abstract: The term American Revolution basically replaced the American War of Independence in 1781 and 1782 because of 'The Revolution of America' by Guillaume Thomas Francois Raynal and Thomas Paine's response to the book. Previously, revolution meant the overthrowing of James II, but it slowly began to mean the adoption of original political ideas while independence meant a separation from the dominant nation.

The American Revolution: Strategy Success or Failure? - Todsen II, Peter B.
Abstract : The American Revolution was the first successful struggle to sever an imperial relationship in modern times. How could a small disjointed group of American colonists subservient to the most powerful nation in the world fight for and eventually gain their full independence? What were the political objectives of the countries involved prior to the start of hostilities, and how did those objectives change throughout the time period of the war? What military strategies were used by each side, and what role did the coalitions formed during the war have on the final outcome?