The very search by observers and historians for purity and unmixed motives in a revolution betrays an unrealistic naivete. Revolutions are mighty upheavals made by a mass of people, people who are willing to rupture the settled habits of a lifetime, including especially the habit of obedience to an existing government. They are made by people willing to turn from the narrow pursuits of their daily lives to battle vigorously and even violently together in a general cause. Because a revolution is a sudden upheaval by masses of men, one cannot treat the motives of every participant as identical, nor can one treat a revolution as somehow planned and ordered in advance. On the contrary, one of the major characteristics of a revolution is its dynamism, its rapid and accelerating movement in one of several competing directions. Indeed, the enormous sense of exhilaration (or fear, depending on one’s personal values and place in the social structure) generated by a revolution is precisely due to its unfreezing of the political and social order, its smashing of the old order, of the fixed and relatively stagnant political structure, its transvaluation of values, its replacement of a reigning fixity with a sense of openness and dynamism. Hope, especially among those submerged by the existing system, replaces hopelessness and despair.
America was conquered, and her settlements made, and firmly established, at the expence of individuals, and not of the British public. Their own blood was spilt in acquiring lands for their settlement, their own fortunes expended in making that settlement effectual; for themselves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for themselves alone they have right to hold.
I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action.
America was born of revolt, flourished on dissent, became great through experimentation.
Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!
Let us then...under God, trust our cause to our swords.
First they ignore you; then they ridicule you; then they fight you; then you win.
As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 - 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington.
In the creation of the federal government, the states exercised the highest act of sovereignty, and they may, if they please, repeat the proof of their sovereignty, by its annihilation. But the union possesses no innate sovereignty, like the states; it was not self-constituted; it is conventional, and of course subordinate to the sovereignties by which it was formed