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Summer School 2007: The Stuarts and the English Revolution
It is fashionable among certain political theorists to speak of the American Republic as an “experiment.” At long last, certain universal principles were inscribed on a clean political slate, bearing none of the marks of tradition, history, or religion. The consequence of this revolutionary idea is enthusiastic celebration of nostrums that bear no resemblance to the reality of everyday political life. A famous one is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Another bitter fruit of this thinking is the conviction that our “great experiment of democracy” can be reproduced around the globe.
The truth is that America’s origins are more complex and more interesting; America is a legacy of Greece and Rome, an it is Christendom brought to the New World. However, America’s character is also colored by the centuries of political turmoil in England that preceded the founding. A thorough understanding of our own Revolution and what is misleadingly called our Civil War cannot be achieved without an understanding of the English Civil War (actually, wars) of the seventeenth century. A good knowledge of the age of the Stuart monarchy, the interregnum of Oliver Cromwell, the literature, poetry, warfare, and theology of this time is essential to the comprehension of who we are.
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