How Revolutionary Was the American Revolution?

While different than social revolutions, like the French and Russian Revolutions, the American Revolution put in motion a series of governmental, legislative and social changes that proved monumental. After England's defeat, America became the first modern republic, a revolutionary concept, and the world anxiously observed this experiment in democracy.

The most revolutionary consequences of the War of Independence reverberated well beyond the conflict's initial goal of freedom from the English monarchy. The new republican government demonstrated a new form of governance and encouraged the involvement of a far greater number of citizens, which contributed to the growth and power of the middle class.

The ideology and rhetoric that emerged from the American Revolution also became the framework for a great number of social movements. Immediately following the revolution, women utilized the concept of Republican Motherhood to legitimize their position in society, and abolitionists based their arguments against slavery on the famous statement of equality found in the Declaration of Independence. In the 20th century, political and social movements continued to turn to the revolutionary beginnings of the nation for legitimacy; activists from the women's suffrage, civil rights and feminist movements all evoked the language of freedom, democracy and equality to frame their demands for recognition.