Breens book showed that the American Revolution was built more on instinctive emotion than the rational action and decision-making that some think it to be. I also learned that the revolution was more popular with far more people supporting it, and vociferously so, than I had believed from movies such as 1776. Lastly, I was astonished to discover that the pitch and passion of the people was regulated by safety committees that were set up throughout the fighting nation to control and regulate the mood.
Passion of war
According to John Adams, “the Revolution was affected before the war commenced.” It did not come about in a rational cause-and-effect manner as a result of the taxes leveraged at the end of the French war against the British as many history textbooks make it seem to be. Rather the colonists had long and entrenched feelings of distrust and animosity against the British, and the taxes were the last actions that flared emotion into war.
Anger, a sense of injustice, and sentiments of religious belief fueled the impetus of the Revolution.
Political reasons hardly, if ever, entered the equation. The mass of them willingly entered the army “without bothering to reflect on the abstract political theories that allegedly justified the Revolution” (36), and, in fact, many of those famous people who we know about who were involved in the Revolution primarily acted from “anger rather than enlightened debate.” (ibid.). It was emotion, then, that largely defined the Revolution rather than the political motivation of founding a democracy and establishing themselves as a nation that characterizes the reasoning given for the Revolution by some of the history textbooks.
2. The People and the War
Movies such as 1776 and other history textbooks gave me the impression that the Revolution was formed by a bunch of bedraggled people, relatively few in number who, only by the almighty presence and influence of individuals such as George Washington and John Adams maintained their fervor and motivated them to.