Process and Protest

One of the biggest difficulties I find in teaching the American Revolution is explaining to my students the large time gaps between so many of the most seminal events of the Revolution. The popular narrative of the Revolution has a tendency to conflate the Stamp Act with the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, with perhaps a quick pause to celebrate Washington’s victory at Yorktown. Yet if the Stamp Act crisis happened today, it would be 2024 before we reached the Declaration of Independence, and 2035 before the Constitutional Convention met.

Over the last month or so, it’s been difficult to follow world news without seeing protests of some sort. Turkish protestors in Istanbul have attended demonstrations in opposition to Prime Minister Erdogan; Brazilians have protested the huge sums being invested in the 2014 World Cup at the same time many inhabitants are suffering from crushing poverty. In future years, it’s quite possible we will look at both protests as a seminal moment in their countries’ histories; stepping stones en route to a considerably more substantial change in governmental systems. Continue reading

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