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1865: The True American Revolution

The standard opinion has it that, ever since they set foot on the new continent, the English settlers felt they were one people, Englishmen united by their common language, common origins, common enemies, so that it was only natural that their independence, once achieved, should lead them to the framing of one new national body, the first new nation, or first republic, of modern times.  Such a view, however, represents in my mind a complete misapprehension.

In spite of the settlers’ common origins and roughly similar social backgrounds (none of them was from the dregs of society), these men were of two main stocks, doomed to an irrepressible antagonism because their dissent did not stem from a mere clash of interests, industrial as opposed to agricultural ones, that could have been complementary (as even Calhoun thought they could be in the 1830’s).  Between them was a much deeper chasm—i.e., the existence of two basic inspirations, mind-sets, Weltanschauungen that could not possibly coexist within a purportedly single whole.  Let us attempt a rough sketch of those two basic spirits.

English immigrants had many reasons, but two of them were predominant: a religious one for the Puritans in New England, and in Virginia an economic one for the first settlers, then a political one for the Cavaliers.  Even though these two groups did not represent...

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