American Elephants


A Belief in the Inevitability of Our Particular Institutions by The Elephant's Child

From
“Hidden History” by Daniel Boorstin

“The United States was born in a colonial rebellion. Our national birth certificate is a Declaration of Independence. not a Declaration of the “Rights of Man.”

The position of the best theorists of the Revolution was that the British, by their treatment of the American colonies were being untrue to the ancient spirit of their own institutions. The slogan “Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny” was clearly formed on a British assumption. They were fighting not so much to establish new rights as to preserve old ones. From the colonists point of view, until 1776 it was Parliament that had been revolutionary  by exercising a power for which there was no warrant in English constitutional precedent. Second, the American Revolution was not the product of a nationalistic philosophy.

The original creation of a United States was the work of doubly reluctant citizens – because of their local loyalties and their imperial loyalties. The story of the critical period of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution tells of a gradual overcoming of their reluctance – it was overcome not by any widespread conversion to a nationalist theory – but by a gradual realization of the need for effective union.

Our revolution was successful at the first try. The political objective – independence from British rule, was achieved by one relatively short continuous effort. 1776 has no sequel – and needed none.

If we understand the “conservatism” of the Revolution, we begin to see that it represents the continuity of American History – and has engraved on our national consciousness a belief in the inevitability of our particular institutions.”

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Daniel J. Boorstin was an historian at the University of Chicago and became the Librarian of Congress in 1975 and served until 1987. Here’s a link to the Boorstin pages at Amazon. He was a prolific author, and you can’t go wrong with any of his books, and they will enrich your life.




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