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To what extent did the American Revolution fundamentally change American society?

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asmith3932 | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted September 29, 2012 at 9:48 PM via web

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To what extent did the American Revolution fundamentally change American society?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM (Answer #1)

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There is some amount of debate on this topic.

On the one hand, it is clear that the Revolution did not cause a visible transformation in American society.  The class that held power in the colonies before the Revolution still largely held power after the Revolution.  There was no takeover of power by the common people and no other huge social changes.

However, there are those, like Gordon Wood, who argue that a hugely important change did take place.  Wood argues that American society had been held together by vertical ties between superiors and inferiors before the Revolution.  He argues that the rhetoric of the Revolution dissolved these ties and replaced them with lateral ties between people who all saw themselves as equals.  Wood argues that this constitutes a fundamental, if somewhat invisible, change in American society.

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