The American Revolutionary War started in Massachusetts in 1775 and spread throughout the 13 colonies. Major hostilities ceased after the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, and the Treaty of Paris, ending the war and establishing the first post-colonial nation in the New World, was signed in 1783. Americans, as they were referred to, were free, and the Revolutionary War was over.
Many history books explain the Revolution in a similar fashion. They go on to say that the Constitution threw out the Articles of Confederation in 1787 and that the new United States Government, which we still possess today, started in 1789. History then goes through the War of 1812, the American System of the 1820s, the Mexican War in the 1840s, the Civil War in the 1860s, the Reconstruction Period, the Gilded Age, and then the Spanish-American War in 1898, just as the 1800s were coming to a close.
The Spanish-American War is seen by many as the point in which the United States became a World Power, and that positioned was secured with the events of the first half of the 20th century. In 109 years, from 1789 when our Government was established to 1898, a rag-tag collection of States and Territories became a World Power. The former colonial possessions of the British Empire were now staring eye to eye with her, and their futures would be from that moment inseparable.
What caused that rag-tag coalition of States to become a premier world power in just over a century?
The answer, which you will not find in any textbooks, is that the American Revolution never ended. The Revolution of mind and spirit continued to evolve and progress years after the War was over. Each State acted as a laboratory of Democracy, establishing their own principles and own ideals. What followed were some States ensuring that all men were created equal, while others still allowed men, women, and children to be bonded and sold as if they were no better than cattle. That ultimately led to the Civil War and the abolishment of Slavery.
The American Revolution lived on as people moved west, as new inventions were invented, and as the modern world emerged. We became a shining city on the hill for democracy and freedom, for change and progress, and for people having more power than their governed.
Many would say that the spirit of the American Revolution and the spirit of our Founding Fathers cannot be found today, but that is not the case. It’s hidden and blurred, but it is there. In contemporary politics, two movements stand out, not only for their similarities, but for their differences. The Tea Party movement and the Occupy Movement had vastly different ideals (some similar) but the spirit and motivation behind both were, in essence, the same. Politically, they wanted different things, but they used the same version of political discourse, demonstrations, and social media use to get their point across. They both are modern revolutionaries only they have replaced muskets and cannon with words and thoughts.
And this is how the American Revolution has lived on. In our hearts, and in our minds, the spirit of George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson live on. They gifted us a system that can change and peacefully revolt throughout history, let us not waste that gift. As we watch other revolutionary wars break out in other parts of the globe, we must be thankful that our War is over, but our Revolution is still alive.