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The role of the American Revolution in history seems to be great indeed: in spite of the fact that some historians define it as a successful American attempt to reject the ideas set by the British government, this event has much more significant aspects and impacts on human lives.
By its nature, a revolution is an effort to change something in order to improve the conditions under which people have to live; it is a change from one constitution to another; it is a beginning of the way that should considerably improve everything. In fact, such definitions are close to those offered by Gordon Wood and Howard Zinn.
These writers made effective attempts to define the nature of the American Revolution as well as to help the reader build a personal opinion.
The nature of the American Revolution is considered to be better understandable relying on the ideas offered by Wood because one of the main purposes which should be achieved are connected with an idea of radical ideological change so strongly supported by Wood:
The Americans did not want to follow the rules dictated by the British people but to create their own constitution and live in accordance with their own demands; and Zinn’s approach based on the material needs is poorer as the results of the American Revolution did not prevent the development of poverty but spread it on the American citizens only regarding British interruptions.
To understand whether the American Revolution was really revolutionary, it is necessary to comprehend the essence of each word in this phrase. The idea of revolution is certainly based on some changes to be achieved. The main goal of the Americans was to gain independence from the British Empire and to become a powerful country in the world.
The results of this revolution were all about American independence and the improvements of living conditions for American people, in other words, it was obligatory to decrease the poverty rates. However, the methods and purposes set during the revolution deserve more attention to be paid. There was a necessity to compare the American and British styles of life (Wood).
Americans were eager to defend their rights as well as to prove their liberty out of the British Empire. What they achieved was the possibilities to develop manufacturing, to establish their own government, to expand any kind of religion, and to vote relying on their own interests.
Wood and Zinn evaluate these achievements from different perspectives: Wood’s ideas seem to be more radical, and Zinn’s ideas are regarded as conservative ones to protect wealth of the country.
As it has been mentioned above, Wood’s approach is based on the radical ideas according to which a revolution presupposes an idea of an ideological shift under which human rights may be recovered and salvation of liberty will be achieved.
He tries to explain that changes which have been achieved influenced considerably the relations between Americans as well as between family members and even between the governmental representatives (Wood).
Zinn, in his turn, focuses on the material backgrounds which are inherent to people: as there is a considerable extent of rich and poor people, supporters of the revolution should get the right to have the same opportunities and develop their knowledge.
The main achievements of Americans were based on the creation of the Constitution under the conditions of which people should be divided again into the representative of the elite and those members of the middle class. The point is that Zinn is more attentive to the examples from the history to support his position. However, the simple facts used are not as possible as the sophisticated arguments offered by Wood.
The language of the American Revolution is based on rebellions, burdens, and attacks which made people be united for some period of time only in order to win the enemy (Zinn). This is why it was more important to concentrate on the moral or even ideological dimension that should lead to the required political separation (Wood).
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So, the evaluation of the American Revolution and the attention to the approaches offered by Wood and Zinn help to comprehend a true essence of the event under analysis. Wood’s approach concerning the ideological shift of the conditions defines a revolutionary nature of the events which took place at the end of the 18th century. Americans were in need of being separated from the tyranny of the British Empire.
Their main purpose was all about separation and independence, and the elimination of poverty among people should be considered as an additional outcome. Wood’s definition of the revolution seems to be correct; however, at the same time, it is wrong to say that Zinn’s attempt was not correct, it is better to admit that his idea was not as powerful and persuasive as the one of Wood is.
In general, the success of Wood’s argumentation of the American Revolution and its nature helps to understand that this event played a very important role in the American history. People should realize that during that period of time, Americans made one of the most powerful and influential attempts to prove their dignity, their rights, and possibilities.
It was possible to achieve the desirable success only by means of the ideological shift described by Wood, and Zinn’s ideas are focused on the consequences which may be observed after the revolution was over.
Still, the American Revolution changed American society considerably and make Americans more confident in personal powers and abilities to change ideologies and follow their own interests to become one of the largest and the richest countries in the whole world.
Wood, Gordon. The American Revolution: A History. New York: Modern Library, Random House Publishing Group, 2002. Print.
Zinn, Howard. “Tyranny is Tyranny.” In A People’s History of the United States. History Is a Weapon. n.d. 25 Oct. 2010. <http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinntyr4.html>