The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution

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Is Lefer a historian? I did not see what his degrees were in. Was American conservatism born in the Revolution? Would it be more prudent to consider the Federalists the men who originated American conservatism?

Top 5 Unsung Heroes of US Revolution

After all, the Constitution was a deliberate attempt at checking the excesses of democracy. This is a well known concept in current historical thought. On the surface, this is looking a lot like an attempt to link modern politics to the Revolution in order to establish legitimacy for one side. If anything, the deeper we get into the Revolution, the more we are seeing that class played a major role in it. Class has played a huge role in all aspects of American history despite many attempts to deny the US as a class based society.

His background seems to be in journalism. I thought your blog post was quite good. It is what they pedal in the name of history that just pisses me off. They are deliberately conflating a few historical facts out of context which they then add in their own spin on the past cased in their modern political ideology. Let us also not forget that Gordon Wood considers the period of to the greatest period of change in American history.

Conservatives by definition do not like change. Yet, change was the order of the day.

The Founding Conservatives by David Lefer | What Would The Founders Think?

I think it is very difficult if not outright impossible to use modern ideology to pin down the people of that era. Granted, Beeman used the term general as he too recognized there would be no exact fits. I loved how he and the audience envisioned Bill Clinton as the closest modern fit to Benjamin Franklin. I wonder what Lefer would think of that comparison? Might be worth reading my book, or at least the introduction. Thanks for your response. Are you trying to make a connection between the events of the Revolution and modern conservatism?

I see the line about wanting a strong military and I know that while some did, many did not. Capitalism was unknown at the time and the Founders seemed to prefer corporations that benefited the public. I also really hope that you portrayed the leaders of the United States as being reactionary to events in Europe which for a large part dictated much of American politics for many years until the end of the War of and the Napoleonic Wars.

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Most histories of conservatism trace its provenance to the end of the 18th century, when Edmund Burke penned his famous essay against the French Revolution. The ideas that comprised it already existed avant la lettre. One of my main arguments is that Burke did not in fact invent modern conservatism. The word itself is an American invention. Many of his ideas, I discovered, were actually already well know in American by the revolutionaries I call the founding conservatives.

Both Burke and the Americans, however, did not spontaneously invent these ideas—which include a reverence for traditionalism, a respect for established institutions, and the championing of prudence. Rather, they were heavily influenced by Court Whig thought from the early 18th century during the ministries of Walpole and Pelham brothers. Interestingly, most of these early American conservatives had been born or had studied abroad, where they were exposed to these ideas. The two were also old friends. Together they decided together to abstain from voting on Independence on July 2, The view that the American Revolution was wracked by class conflict is also clearly not a new one.

As I bet most of you know, this view fell out of favor for much of the second half of the 20th century with the rise of the Consensus school.

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It allowed historians like Alfred Young, Edward Countryman, and Gary Nash to revive the notion of radicals and conservatives in the American Revolution, albeit with far more sophistication than the early Progressives. To me the fascinating thing about all this historiographical tumult is that while many historians are now re-exploring the role radicals played in the Revolution, they only mention early conservatives in passing.


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Yet, they all do. And the former journalist in me sensed a scoop. It also filled a scholarly gap. In the course of researching this book I was also astonished by the fact that popular histories of the Revolution pay so little attention to these forgotten founders. They saw themselves as political allies more or less, as did their enemies. My book shows that this replay of the struggle between English Court and Country Whigs took place in American even earlier than the s, during the late s and through s as well.

These are some of the theoretical underpinnings of the book.

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The book itself is meant for a popular audience, so I dwell as much on gun battles as I do on big ideas. But I hope this note addresses some of your questions. Thanks for the interest. Thanks for the quite informative response. I will add your book to my reading. I was very concerned that this would be an attempt to link the conservatism of the Revolution oh yes, it was definitely there. Class was a major part of the whole thing to modern conservatism today.

Conservatism existed in that era in multiple ways both before and after the Revolution. If one is to use the term as a generic term it fits aptly. I just think that the dust jacket copy should be rewritten. Capitalism as a term did not exist.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Founding Conservatives'

Again, thanks for the reply. I am looking forward to reading your book.

I plan on reading it in more detail to be fair in my final judgment of it, but my initial response is to feel somewhat disappointed. I wanted a book that would challenge my expectations and alter my interpretations. So far, the author has failed to do this. First, I suspect the ideological framework is just too narrow and simplistic for what is needed.


  • THE FOUNDING CONSERVATIVES by David Lefer | Kirkus Reviews;
  • The Founding Conservatives by David Lefer | What Would The Founders Think?.
  • Conservatives of the American Revolution.
  • Not all conservatives were moderate and not all liberals were radical. I was also wondering about the conservative-minded traditionalist criticisms of capitalism that developed out of early Southern thought.

    All of this relates to the problem of terminology which he does partly discuss, just not to my satisfaction. This leads to the second limitation.

    America’s first conservatives

    The early Quakers were a complex group. He focuses on the Penssylvania Quaker elite while ignoring all other Quakers. Keep discussions on topic, avoid personal attacks and threats of any kind. Links will not be permitted. Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. View Newsmax Mobile.

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