Monday, October 18, 2010

The Revolution in Virginia

By H. J. Eckenrode, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Economics and History, In Richmond College
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 1916

THE American Revolution was a movement with two distinct aspects. On one side it was marked by the union of hitherto independent communities and the beginning of common institutions and of a common life. The other phase witnessed the progress of the revolt within the colonies themselves and the creation of their individual governments. The method of historians in treating of the Revolution generally has been to take the most striking incidents in the history of the colonies in the years immediately preceding 1776 and join them to an account of the workings of the Continental Congress and the campaigns of the Continental army. The internal growth of the newmade States is almost entirely ignored, probably because in some instances it is not well known. But in this stage of American history, when the national life was so feeble, the progress of events in Massachusetts and Virginia was more important than the deliberations of Congress. No adequate account has been given of the spiritual change which came over Massachusetts and Virginia in the Revolutionary epoch and which had such great influence on the development of the nation. Because the early history of the individual States has not been well worked out, there are certain hiatuses in our histories, such, for instance, as the lack of an account of the origin of the Democratic Party. Historians give us the impression that it sprang full-grown from the head of Jefferson, that he was its creator. But the Democratic Party had come into existence in an undefined way before the great political genius of Jefferson laid hold of it and moulded it to his purposes. Jefferson was a Virginian and the Democratic Party as a political movement with real purposes was likewise a Virginia product; the story of its rise is one of the most interesting chapters of Revolutionary history.

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