THE LAMP OF EXPERIENCE

by Trevor Colbourn

This engaging history richly tells of seventeenth and eighteenth century histories read by prominent American Revolutionaries.

Being from a generation of historians of 50 years ago, the book is not widely known but is well worth reading – a simple direct telling of the subject and the books the Revolutionaries were reading, in addition to sufficient recounting of the subject matter. The Americans [John Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Mason, Otis, Wilson] were not reading history to follow tradition and custom in a ghoulish resurrection of mindsets of previous centuries. They were constructing no philosophies; times had changed. They read to learn of previous times, to know the mistakes of the past and better the judge events coming at them.

This argument is well made in the book, but another argument seeps in. To what extent did the American Revolution change and begin the break down the ossification of the British political system?

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