Article

Rights

Eric Slauter

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746705
Published online December 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199746705.013.0025

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Rights

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The American Revolution took place during the latter part of a century of development in thinking about rights. Between the English Revolution of 1688–1689 and the French Revolution of 1789, ideas about rights expanded around the Atlantic world, and discussions of rights in America widened to include larger segments of the colonial and early national population. The central political philosophy of the American Revolution was thus based on rights. Revolutionaries recognized two basic kinds of rights: natural and civil. According to the most widely accepted political theory of the day, God gave human beings natural rights, some of which they used to create civil governments. In turn, governments could presumably confer civil rights on their subjects or citizens. For American revolutionaries, both natural and civil rights should be committed to writing.

Keywords: rights; natural rights; civil rights; American Revolution; America

Article.  9213 words. 

Subjects: History ; United States History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; World History

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