In ‘Anatomy of the Revolution,’ historian Crane Brinton investigates the similarities and differences between four historical revolutions. In this. Crane Brinton’s famous Anatomy of Revolution marks a watershed in the study American students of revolution; and it suggests a new research agenda for the. The definitive, hugely influential comparative history of the English, American, French and Russian revolutions from a renowned American scholar. “Classic”.

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Crane Brinton’s Theory Of Revolution

In this respect, a revolution is not a positive phenomena, it is something to be avoided and cured, when and if, it occurs. This is due to the fact that “nobody wants to have a fever” Brinton, However, fever, and Revolution, “in itself is a good thing The revolution destroys wicked people and harmful and useless institutions” Brinton breaks down the revolution into three entities: Symptoms can take several different forms: In the early stages of the revolution itself, Brinton sees the moderates seize power, but then the extremists take that power away from them.

Then the fever breaks, Thermidor occurs and the revolution is rfvolution. In Brinton’s view there is nothing much that can be done about revolutionaries, the fever has to burn out on its own.

Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution – PhilPapers

In his book, Crane Brinton uses the American Revolution as one of his examples. One assumes that he vies the American Revolution as a real Revolution, though the author states that it does not fit perfectly his conceptual schemes Brinton sees the American Revolution as a territorial-nationalist one, in which the aim of the revolutionaries was not to overturn the existing “social and economic system, bfinton rather to set the English North American colonies up as an independent nation-state” The symptoms part of Brinton’s Revolution theory shall be discussed first.

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There were economic problems, since America refused to pay taxes to England. The taxation without representation’ slogan of the s was enough to excite Americans to action There was “no class ground down with poverty” 31 but the “economic stresses and strains” 31 contributed to a feeling that prevailing conditions limited and hardened the colonists’ economic activity Thus, Brinton sees the economic symptoms of the American Revolution being the economic grievances “of some of the chief enterprising groups that [saw] their opportunities for getting on in this world [as] unduly limited by political arrangements” The second symptom was the inefficiency of the British government.

Revolution occurred because the “practical constraints of the British political scene in, and always rendered impossible any policy that would match the colonial demands” Thomas America emerged from its Revolution “with more efficient and more centralized government” Brinton, The third symptom was the rise of revolutionaries, mostly the army and those who supported the Revolutionary War.

American society of the late s was rural not urbanand the strength of the revolutionary “movement lay with the plain people However, Brinton also agrees Alexander Graydon that the ” opposition to the claims of Britain originated with the better sort: The patriots knew they wanted to separate from Britain.


The overthrow of the old regime is an interesting phenomena, because the British government continued to exist, and is sill active today.

However, that regime was overthrown in the American colonies, and a completely new government, a republic, was set up. The last symptom does not fit the American example very well. The revolutionary coalition did not break up.

This leads to Brinton’s stages of Revolution, the first of which is the seizure of power by the moderates, and the soon after taking of that power by the extremists. Brinton sees no victory of extremists over moderates in America The third part of Brinton’s theory is the break up of the fever, the occurrence of Thermidor, and the end of the Revolution.

Brinton believes America “never quite went through a reign of terror” 24but that the “relaxation of the war discipline and war tension and a grand renewal for wealth and pleasure” led to a real Thermidor. All this sounds very like the original Thermidor to Brinton.

The Anatomy of Revolution by Crane Brinton | : Books

Only parts of Brinton’s theory fit the American example. Enough of them match his definition and his stages of this phenomena that one must agree that the American Revolution was a true Revolution. However, other scholars may not agree.