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American HonorThe Creation of the Nation's Ideals during the Revolutionary Era$
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Craig Bruce Smith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469638836

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638836.001.0001

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The Old World Meets the New

The Old World Meets the New

Colonial Ethical Ideals before the Revolution

Chapter:
(p.22) Chapter One The Old World Meets the New
Source:
American Honor
Author(s):

Craig Bruce Smith

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638836.003.0002

This chapter stretches from the early eighteenth century to the end of the French and Indian War. With a focus on how European ideals permeated early American society, Chapter 1 traces Washington and Franklin’s individual definitions of honor and virtue and how they changed over time. It discusses how their mindsets were largely the result of self-education and personal experience, allowing for a comparison between the northern and southern colonies. It also illustrates the extremely early emergence of an American concept of honor, highlighted by Franklin’s 1723 original concept of merit-based “ascending honor”. The chapter shows Americans as first moving closer to Europe ideologically, before a transformation in ethical ideals saw a greater divergence from the mother country. It also frames the Revolution as being sparked by these preexisting ethical changes.

Keywords:   George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, French and Indian War, Ascending Honor, Virginia Militia, The Spectator, “Thirteen Names of Virtue”, Fairfax family, Merit, Literature

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