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Was the American Revolution Inevitable, Essay Example

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Essay

If a certain view is taken, it is entirely reasonable to argue that the American Revolution was not an inevitability.  This view relies on a basic understanding of the reality of the era, and potentials within the primary players involved.  England was consistently expanding as a world power, vying with Spain and France in expansion and colonizing.  The original colonies, so ordinarily seen as “Early American,” were in fact nothing of the kind, and it is critical to recall that these settlers and pioneers of the East coast were very much English citizens.  There was no deep-seated desire to establish a new nation because they were citizens of one to which they were powerfully bound.  Had England practiced very different policies, and had a new form of colonial structure been attempted, it is entirely possible that “America” would have remained a thriving, semi-independent arm of the British empire.  This would have required unprecedented thinking and behavior on the parts of both elements, particularly in forging a working relationship both serving the home nation and accommodating the unique needs of the colonies, but a careful effort could have made this happen.

The above notwithstanding, however, and with a broader view taken, the American Revolution must be seen as inevitable, at least in terms of how vast shifts in expansion ultimately break free of the dominant powers creating them.  On a basic level, the enormous distance between England and the colonies rendered a working, cooperative relationship extremely difficult, as the same reality rendered any hope of British suppression of the Revolution minimal at best.  Then, there is the inescapable fact that, when a population is so separated from its native terrain and must create a new society for itself, a pervasive sense of autonomy will arise.  England trusted to patriotism and commitment, but even those qualities cannot endure long when thousands of miles distance citizen and state.  When the increasingly dictatorial behavior of England is the added to the equation, it is clear that Revolution was ultimately inevitable.

With regard to what parts of the Constitution allow it to evolve and remain relevant, the most obvious is Article V, in which the amendment process is essentially set forth to cover the unforeseen, or to address issues missed by the founders.  It describes the methods by which amendments may be both proposed and ratified, relying on Congress’ reacting to a states’ majority of opinion.  Article V essentially assures that, should a sufficiently large section of the nation desire change, it may be duly incorporated.  It is ironic and interesting, however, that the limitations of Article V continue to generate debate as to the best means of altering the Constitution.  Not unexpectedly, the document has been endlessly analyzed and scrutinized since it first established the new governmental structure.  Interpretation, particularly in regard to the exact intentions of the drafters of it, then creates conflict.  With regard to actual amendments, for example, it is argued that, even as the Constitution demands that Congress call a convention to assess a proposed change when enough state petitions require it, this by no means restricts other avenues.  In other words, Congress is not prohibited from acting in this way based on other reasons (Amar, 2012,  p. 292).  The framers permit a means of keeping the Constitution relevant, but do not specify this as the only course legally correct.

This amendment process as debatable then goes to the less defined way in which the Constitution may evolve.  It is noted that the language of the Preamble, as well as that of the entire document, is geared toward emphasizing an ongoing sovereignty, and to protecting the rights of generations yet to come (Amar, 2012,  p. 292).  The Constitution “lives” in that its core is concern for posterity; to then assert a governmental structure denying future generations the right to alter it would eviscerate this basic principle.  It is unreasonable to suggest that the framers intended the Constitution to be a constantly shifting template for the nation, but it is equally irrational to ignore how powerfully the document, and Article V in particular, reflects the awareness that legal change will be inevitable as the nation evolves.

References

Amar, A. R.  (2012).  America’s Constitution: A Biography.  New York: Random House.

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