The Differences Between The And The Middle Of The Nineteenth Century Essay

The Differences Between The And The Middle Of The Nineteenth Century Essay

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During the middle of the eighteenth century, wide population growth and unequal economic development led many Whig spokesmen to create a republican ideology “that proved to be the most potent conceptual force shaping political and social thought (52).” Throughout the colonies, the visible gap between the wealthy and poor widened. Observers from different religions all agreed that instead of “serving as a beacon of spirituality and temperance to the rest of the world, the colonies now seemed but a sad reflection of the rampant materialism, social striving, and impiety infecting Europe (52).” These shared opinions led to the creation of Republicanism, which rejected monarchy and aristocracy in favor of a government representative of and for the people. For many leaders it embodied much more than an effort for political independence, it embodied a moral vision reflecting the Protestant ethic. The “classical” republicans shared with the Puritans and Quakers a basic assumption that a constant balance between power, liberty, and virtue was needed in order to create a successful, stable society. The virtues—industry, frugality, simplicity, enlightened thinking, and public spiritedness—which were needed to sustain a righteous citizenry, were “almost identical to those valued by the early Puritans and Quakers (52).” Unlike the Puritans, who focused their ethic on the masses to prevent materialism from disrupting the established social order, the Republicans, like the radical evangelicals and Quaker reformers, aimed their protests at the upper classes who were more interested in selfish gain than social responsibility (53). To the Whig Moralists, political corruption and social decay were caused by the elite. These Whigs, including Sam Adam...


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...successful Revolution ended, America achieved political independence but failed to result in the moral regeneration that so many republican spokesmen hoped for. During the revolution, there was much ambiguity about what the term “republicanism” meant. John Adams admitted that republicanism had come to mean “anything, everything, or nothing (70).” The Revolutionary Americans had varying opinions on what the new nation should entail. Some supported the revolution for more freedom in the market, while others viewed it as an opportunity for more freedom and participation in both social and political life. Once it began, colonists with opposing views still used the same libertarian arguments. As the fight for America’s independence ended, and the new nation began, the notion of simple living was undermined by the excitement of moving forward as a newly independent nation.

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