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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: May 2009

15 - Rebellion, revolution, reform: the transit of the intellectuals

from Part III - Histories: Writing in the New Movements
In late 1788 Louis XVI called the Estates General to meet in response to increasing agitation for reform. Accounts of the Atlantic democratic revolutions from 1770-1790s are popularly classified as the American rebellion against colonial authority, the French constitutional and republican revolution, and the British struggle for political reform. After 1789, radical intellectuals in Britain eagerly metaphorized the French Revolution as the new 'Glorious Revolution'. In their letters from France in 1789 and 1790, Jefferson writes with visionary idealism and Helen Maria Williams asserts the affective origin of her politics: together they offer one version of the 'Romanticism' of the period. Mary Wollstonecraft and Thomas Paine together brought the French Revolution to Britain in 1790 by strenuously developing the debate about 1688 into an unrestrained pamphlet war. Jefferson and Paine brought the American Revolution to Paris as polemicists and diplomats and rejoiced in the fall of the Bastille.
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The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
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