Second American Revolution

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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 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."[1]
  • 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.[2] John C. Calhoun was perhaps the first to make this claim.[3]
  • Historian Charles A. Beard first proposed—in 1927—that the US Civil War and emancipation amounted to a second American revolution, emphasizing the changes brought on by the Union's victory.[4] 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.[5][6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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…."
  2. ^ "War of 1812 - The Second War for Independence". Archived from the original on 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  3. ^ The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, pg. 498
  4. ^ Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard, The Rise of American Civilization (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1927), 2 vols., II, 53-54.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-22. Retrieved 2017-12-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-31. Retrieved 2017-08-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-22. Retrieved 2017-08-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)