The colonists stood face to face with a power, possessed of authority over them that was without legal limit, which had now resolved, if possible, to procure from them a revenue.
American political thought ... is a veritable maze of polar contradictions, winding in and out of each other hopelessly: pragmatism and absolutism, historicism and rationalism, optimism and pessimism, materialism and idealism, individualism and conformism. But, after all, the human mind works by polar contradictions [emphasis added]; and when we have evolved an interpretation of it which leads cleanly in a single direction, we may be sure we have missed a lot.
[T]here is simply too much fanatical and millennial thinking even by the best minds that must be explained before we can characterize the Americans’ ideas as peculiarly rational and legalistic and thus view the Revolution as merely a conservative defense of constitutional liberties.
... the same general disgust with a chaotic and corrupt world, the same anxious and angry bombast, the same excited fears of conspiracies by depraved men....
... a people caught up in a revolutionary situation, deeply alienated from the existing sources of authority and vehemently involved in a basic reconstruction of their political and social order.
For the ideas, the rhetoric, of the Americans was never obscuring but remarkably revealing of their deepest interests and passions. What they expressed may not have been for the most part factually true, but it was always psychologically true. In this sense their rhetoric was never detached from the social and political reality....
...identify and describe the dominant thrust of the Revolution and to understand the relationship between that thrust and the many peripheral and seemingly incongruous tendencies that existed simultaneously with it.
· religious or racial discrimination
...pragmatism and absolutism, historicism and rationalism, optimism and pessimism, materialism and idealism, individualism and conformism...