The American Revolution is something that is often discussed and debated. Believe it or not, there is actually disagreement about the motives of the Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution despite their written explanation. In order to understand the political struggle in our nation today, it is essential to look back and see from where the two main sides originated.
To set things straight, there is a difference between Classical Liberalism and Progressive Liberalism. Classical Liberalism is oftentimes attributed to some of the Founding Fathers and some of the French Revolution. However, there is a distinct difference between the two schools of thought. From my view, the French Revolution was the beginning and the embodiment of Progressive Liberalism, which is Liberalism in its modern form. Classical Liberalism stemmed from the Enlightenment and supported the advancement and promotion of its values. The Enlightenment was contrary and oftentimes despised by the Classical Conservative monarchy. Note, that Classical Conservatism is different than modern day Constitutional Conservatism. To conserve is to preserve, and the classic Conservatives sought to preserve the monarchies while the Classical Liberals sought to abolish them and establish Constitutional Republics or Democracies.
The Enlightenment was before the American Founding. Therefore, the ideas from it were still fresh, but at the same time were not entirely thought up in a great revolutionary moment by the Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers and Framers sought to protect the Enlightenment values, to preserve them if you will. To preserve is to conserve, so that is a Conservative stance. The Classical Conservative stance was to preserve the monarchies, but this is different than the Modern Conservative stance that is dead set on preserving the Constitution. The first of the Founding Fathers were essentially the beginning of Modern Conservatism. (Different than Post-Reagan Revolution Conservatism)
So, the next time anyone proclaims to you that Liberalism was the way of thinking that is responsible for the United States, make sure to explain the very real and secret truth of our founding to them.
Author: James Kurlich
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Goldberg, Jonah. Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. New York: Doubleday, 2007. Print.
“Constitution 101: The Meaning & History of the Constitution.” Constitution 101. Hillsdale College, n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.
Spalding, Matthew. A Citizen’s Introduction to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 2010. Print
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