Second American Revolution
The American Revolution spanned from 1775 to 1783, after which the United States received recognition of independence by and from Great Britain. Rhetorical or hyperbolic references to a Second American Revolution have been made on a number of occasions throughout the history of the United States.
- A second (or third, or fourth) American revolution was conceived early on as attainable via the Article V Convention, as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Occasional conventions were envisioned by many of the country's founding generation of leaders to be a sort of institutionalized avenue toward the ideal of revolution every twenty years, often attributed to Thomas Jefferson. According to Samuel Williams of Vermont (1743–1817), it was to be the means to accomplish periodic constitutional adaptation to changing times. Born the same year as Jefferson, Williams saw the federal constitutional convention as the vehicle for what loose constructionists today term the "living, breathing constitution."
- The War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom is sometimes referred to as the second American Revolution, stemming from the second British recognition of 1781 American borders. John C. Calhoun was perhaps the first to make this claim.
- The Confederates thought they were fighting a second American Revolution by attempting to secede from the United States during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. It was also used in the 1920s by historian Charles A. Beard to emphasize the changes brought on by the Union's victory.
- Historian Charles A. Beard first proposed—in 1927—that the US Civil War and emancipation amounted to a second American revolution. Subsequently, many historians—including James M. McPherson, Gregory P. Downs, and Bruce Levine—have argued that the fight against and victory over slavery amounts to a second American Revolution.
In popular culture
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- In the 1992 alternate history novel The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, the Confederates officially refer to the American Civil War as the Second American Revolution after their victory in 1864.
- In the 2006 novel Empire by Orson Scott Card, a second revolution occurs following the assassination of both the president and the vice president.
- In the alternate history novel Back in the USSA by Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman, both a second revolution and civil war occur after the corrupt presidency of Charles Foster Kane. He had become the 28th president after former president and Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt won the 1912 presidential election, but was assassinated on December 19, 1912 when he and the Rough Riders attempted to break up a labor strike at the Chicago Union Stock Yards by the sharpshooter and exhibition shooter Annie Oakley. Due to Kane being Roosevelt's running mate, he became president on March 4, 1913. By 1917, the US had become unstable politically and socially. That year, the Socialist party led by Eugene Debs gains increasing support and the Second American Revolution based on the Russian Revolution breaks out, following which Kane is ousted from The White House and overthrow and executed for treason, and the United States becomes the United Socialist States of America (USSA) with Debs as its president, serving until his death in 1926.
- In the alternate history novel The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith as part of the North American Confederacy Series, the Whiskey Rebellion becomes a Second American Revolution in 1794 after Albert Gallatin intercedes to help the farmers rather than the US Government as he does in real history. This eventually leads to George Washington getting overthrown and executed by firing squad for treason, the U.S Constitution being declared null and void, and Gallatin being proclaimed as the second president and would serve until 1812. In 1795, a new caretaker government is organized with all taxes being repealed. A revised version of the Articles of Confederation are ratified in 1797, but with a greater emphasis on individual and economic freedom.
- In the 1991 short story "Dispatches From the Revolution" by Pat Cadigan contained in the anthology Alternate Presidents, a second revolution occurs after a bomb is planted at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois in August 1968, which explodes. The explosion kills President Lyndon B. Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Senator George McGovern, and Senator Eugene McCarthy, wiping out the most prominent contenders for the 1968 Presidential Election. This leads to major chaos and the United States eventually becomes an autocratic state with Ronald Reagan as the president.
- The dystopian science fiction novel Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman has the novel set during the crisis of a Second American Revolution. It has been adapted into a graphic novel and a 2014-released narrative feature film.
- In the alternate history novel Fire on the Mountain by Terry Bisson, John Brown succeeded in his raid on Harper's Ferry and touched off a slave rebellion in 1859, which sparks an alternate civil war and leads to the formation of a new Socialist nation known as "Nova Africa" in the Southern U.S. Decades later, a Socialist revolutionary war occurs in Chicago and defeats the rump United States.
- In the dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. A Christian fundamentalist movement known as the "Sons of Jacob" set off a Second Revolution by staging an attack that kills the President and most of Congress. They win the war and suspend the US Constitution under the pretext of restoring order. The new regime, known as the Republic of Gilead, moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. In this society, human rights are severely limited and women's rights are even more curtailed; for example, women are forbidden to read or work normal jobs. The Republic of Gilead is quickly able to take away women's rights, largely attributed to financial records being stored electronically and labelled by gender.
- American armed resistance to a fictional Soviet invasion in Amerika was described by its supporters as a Second American Revolution.
- In The Venture Bros. universe, the Office of Secret Intelligence (OSI) is said to have been established during or shortly after the Second American Revolution (the invisible one).
- The National Secessional Forces in the 2000 video game Deus Ex are stated to believe that they are fighting the Second American Revolution.
- In the video game Homefront: The Revolution, the Resistance stage a revolution to overthrow North Korea's occupation of the former United States, beginning in Philadelphia. They are eventually supported by NATO.
- In the alternate history video game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the United States is occupied by Nazi forces after losing the Second World War due to the Nazi's anachronistically advanced technology. The game's protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz, reunites with his allies from the previous game with the intention of staging a second American Revolution to overthrow the occupation and the puppet government that supports it.
- Samuel Williams, The Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 2 vols. (Burlington VT, Samuel Mills, 1809) 2:395-96. Congregational minister, Harvard professor, author of the first history of Vermont, and founder of Vermont's oldest continuously published newspaper; Rev. Williams considered a rigid, unchanging constitution to be high folly, in that "no policy would appear more puerile or contemptible to the people of America, than an attempt to bind posterity to our forms, or to confine them to our degrees of knowledge, and improvement: The aim is altogether the reverse, to make provision for the perpetual improvement and progression of the government itself…."
- War of 1812 - The Second War for Independence
- The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, pg. 498
- Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard, The Rise of American Civilization (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1927), 2 vols., II, 53-54.