Before and after the final victory at Yorktown, the American Revolution was the first of a series of world-shaking democratic revolutions that swept the Atlantic World in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Radical ideas of self-government, liberty, and republicanism challenged the Old World institutions of monarchy, aristocracy, and religious authority, transforming the modern world. In a sweeping work of intellectual history, Jonathan Israel investigates this global spread of enlightenment ideas in “The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848.”
–Courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia
“America’s Revolution introduced universal and equal human rights, freedom of expression and the press and republican liberty generally. It also made concerted efforts to end oppression of minority ethnic group and establish an international code curtailing the curse of war.
“The American Revolution’s greatest impact in the 1770s and 1780s was on France, Holland and Ireland (where the American example became especially closely linked to rising discontent). It was considerable also in southern Europe and Latin America.”
“The American Revolution’s global impact was a matter of example and inspiration, providing a new ground plan for human society. But this in turn raised issues of how far the Revolution had fulfilled its own promises at home and how far the United States should encourage and promote the wider process of transatlantic revolution abroad.
“In attributing to the new United States an especially exalted status in mankind’s progress toward equality, liberty, and democratic republicanism, radical Enlightenment thinkers consciously assigned a global responsibility to America, a responsibility applying both within and outside the United States.”
“This part utopian, part realistic vision of the American Revolution stoked disaffection with the existing order in Europe and Latin America for three-quarters of a century.”
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Museum of the American Revolution
"The Expanding Blaze"
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