Appraising the American Revolution

July 4, 1976

Report Outline
Bicentennial Urge for Reflection
Interpretations by the Historians
Modern Views of the Revolution
Special Focus

Bicentennial Urge for Reflection

Questions Raised by Study of Revolution

The aspect of the bicentennial celebration that is likely to have the most lasting consequences is the stimulus it has given to a popular exploration of the nation's past. While most of the festivities and ceremonies have centered on the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the scope of the backward look at the nation's beginnings actually has been much wider. It embraces not only the American Revolution, but the crucial preceding years that gave rise to the demand for independence and the following years when the survival and good health of the young nation became assured.

The attention now focusing on the nation's early history raises or revives some haunting questions: What did the American Revolution really stand for? Was it a true revolution or merely a secession from the mother country? What was the relationship between the colonists' strike for nationhood and the principles of democracy, freedom and equality embodied in the Declaration of Independence and in the federal Constitution adopted 11 years later? To what extent have those principles prevailed over the 200 years of national history? How viable are they today, and how viable will they be in the future?

Implicit in the celebration of the bicentennial is the question: What of the tricentennial? Or, where will we be, in terms of the Revolution's goals and the aspirations of the founding fathers, 100 years from now?

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Constitution and Separation of Powers
Sep. 07, 2012  Re-examining the Constitution
Jan. 29, 1988  Treaty Ratification
Mar. 27, 1987  Bicentennial of the Constitution
Jan. 31, 1986  Constitution Debate Renewed
Mar. 16, 1979  Calls for Constitutional Conventions
Jul. 04, 1976  Appraising the American Revolution
Sep. 12, 1973  Separation of Powers
Jul. 12, 1972  Treaty Ratification
Apr. 19, 1967  Foreign Policy Making and the Congress
Mar. 05, 1947  Contempt of Congress
May 10, 1945  The Tariff Power
Jul. 01, 1943  Executive Agreements
Jun. 01, 1943  Advice and Consent of the Senate
May 24, 1943  Modernization of Congress
Jan. 18, 1943  The Treaty Power
Aug. 24, 1942  Congress and the Conduct of War
May 09, 1940  Congressional Powers of Inquiry
Nov. 09, 1939  Participation by Congress in Control of Foreign Policy
Apr. 21, 1937  Revision of the Constitution
Feb. 24, 1936  Advance Opinions on Constitutional Questions
Oct. 04, 1935  Federal Powers Under the Commerce Clause
Jun. 19, 1935  The President, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court
Sep. 10, 1928  The Senate and the Multilateral Treaty
Dec. 16, 1926  The Senate's Power of Investigation
Oct. 03, 1924  Pending Proposals to Amend the Constitution
Historic Preservation