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United States Historians Typically Argue that our National Experience is Defined by Either Conflict or Consensus - Essay Example

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Majority of the American historians subscribe to the opinion that the American history has been a witness to the competition and adjustment between two opposing forces of consensus and conflict. Yet, this is not something unexpected or strange, for a democracy is always defined by an adjustment between varied opinions and pressure groups. …
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United States Historians Typically Argue that our National Experience is Defined by Either Conflict or Consensus
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of the of the Concerned 4 October 2009 United s Historians Typically Argue that our National Experience is Defined by Either Conflict or Consensus
Majority of the American historians subscribe to the opinion that the American history has been a witness to the competition and adjustment between two opposing forces of consensus and conflict. Yet, this is not something unexpected or strange, for a democracy is always defined by an adjustment between varied opinions and pressure groups. For democracy is nothing, but an inbuilt ability within the political setup of a nation to accommodate and assimilate varied and diverse viewpoints and aspirations. The whole landscape of the American history testifies to the urge for reconciliation between disparate stakes and objectives.
The reality is that American Revolution was not a monolithic phenomenon, but an epoch making event that succeeded in finding a balance between varied interest groups and stakes (Wood 36). While the Revolutionary party vouched for freedom and interpreted the concept of freedom in a broader sense that made way for social egalitarianism, there was no dearth of loyalists and local businesses who genuinely felt that the revolutionaries were more detrimental then the British in the sense that they supported a type of freedom, which could jeopardize the existing social fabric by giving way to class struggles. The result was a conflict and the ensuing consensus that sidelined the class issues like slavery and poverty, to work a struggle united by the cohesive forces of nationalism and the abandonment of the issues of slavery and class conflict, at least for the time.
The writing and the ratification of the American constitution was no less devoid of consensus and conflict. A majority of the anti-federalists held that the federal nature of the constitution would make the federal government too strong to enable it encroach on the rights and freedom of the citizens (Beeman 24). The desperately supported the inclusion of a Bill of Rights in the constitution. However, a golden mean was found with the addition of ten amendments in the constitution in 1791, after its ratification in 1787, which are today known as the Bill of Rights. Thus, a consensus was achieved that made way for the sanctity of individual rights in a primarily federal political framework.
The inherent conflict in the American history is essentially symbolized by the differences between the ideas of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson as to their vision of the United States (Stourzh 51). While Jefferson wanted the United States to be a predominantly agrarian nation, Hamilton expected it to be a manufacturing center with commerce and industry as being the nation’s backbone. While Jefferson supported a representative government, Hamilton, inspired by the British political institutions, intended the US to be some sort of a political monarchy. In the flow of history, both the opinions managed to arrive at reconciliation and the contemporary American democracy is a combination of the values drawn from the ideology of both the political leaders.
The very nature of the American democracy makes it open to conflicts and to the resolution of these conflicts through the institution of democracy. In that context, the US is not an anomaly in the sense that the history of almost all the democratic nations is a saga of conflict and consensus.
Total Words: 540



Works Cited
Beeman, Richard. Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American
Constitution. Boston: Barnes & Noble, 2005.
Stourzh, Gerald. Hamilton and the Idea of Republican Government. Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 2006.
Wood, Gordon S. The Radicalism of the American Revolution. New York:
Vintage, 1993. Read More
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