constitutional revolution

Why is Richard Henry Lee so important to American History?  

Richard Henry Lee aided in lighting the torch of American Freedom and kept it burning for his nation. From a farmer, to a politician, to congressman, to a statesman, to a patriot, to a senator, Richard Henry Lee performed a very important role in American history. 

Lee had the advantage in life of living during one of the most crucial times in American History. Allowing him to take part in one of the greatest events the world has witnessed, the pregnancy, birth, and childhood of the United States of America. Striving against the British Crown with such men as Patrick Henry, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, his influence has a lasting effect on the outcome of American History.Richard’s career began, like most begin, by his birth into the famed, old family of Virginia, the Lee family. 

Richard was born on the 20th of January 1732, at his family’s plantation, near Stratford, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was the oldest of four boys, Francis Lightfoot Lee, William Lee, and Arthur Lee. He was educated early on in life by private tutoring at his family home in Virginia. Having reached the latter years of his education, his family sent him off to England to complete his studies. Finally on completing his education he returned home, from England, in 1752.The Lees’ of Virginia had a fine tradition of public service. 

In 1758, following in the footsteps of his family, entered the Virginia House of Burgesses at the age of twenty-five, thus, he began seventeen years of continuous services for his colony. His stanch opposition of British measures, such as the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts, centered him in the forefront of defenders of colonial rights. Openly calling the Townshed Acts, “arbitrary, unjust, and destructive of that mutual beneficial connection which every good subject would wish to see preserved.” Richard was now planted firmly on the colonial side. Being more than a man of words in February of 1766 he drew the residence of his own county into the “Westmoreland Association,” uniting themselves not to buy any British goods until the Stamp Act was repealed.

Richard was among the first persons to propose a system of inter-colonial committees of correspondence. These committees were set up to coordinate the efforts of the colonies against the British. The committees directly led to the forming of the First Continental Congress, with Virginia appointing Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, and George Washington. 

On September 5, 1774, these men with others such as John Jay and John Adams met in Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia for the first meeting of the Continental Congress. Even more aggressive now than before, Richard was pushing for stronger action against the British. With the issue of independence stalling in congress for the better part of a year, it was noted that a shrewd political move was needed to push the dream of independence into a reality. Richard’s openly advocating independence from the British Crown in the spring of 1776, led to his being chosen to move the issue of independence in congress. Finally, on June 7, 1776 he stood up in congress and uttered a resolution that would forever change the course of American History.

Resolved: that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved.

This resolution set a chain of events into action that would lead to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and finally to the adoption of it, and American Independence on July 4, 1776.Richard remained in congress until 1779 missing only a brief period to return home to Virginia to help form the new state government. Retiring from congress in 1779 due to ill health, Richard returned home to Virginia. On his return he was elected to the Virginia Legislature. 

Remaining there until he was once again sent to congress in 1784. This time he served his first year as that bodies president. Remaining two more years in congress, where he played an important role in the passage of the Northwest Ordinance. When the Constitutional Convention was held in 1787, to form a centralized government, Richard outright refused to attend, even going as far as to lead in Virginia’s opposition to the new constitution. 

Richard’s opposition to the constitution was based on the fact that it called for a strong central government, one thing he did not ever intend to have again. Also the fact that the constitution itself lacked a bill of rights gave him reason for concern. He felt the combination of these factors, giving a strong central government the power to do what it likes against individuals without any form of guaranteed rights to its citizens, would eventually put them back in the hands of a tyrant.

Having lost his battle over the new constitution, he accepted appointment in 1789 as one of the first senators from Virginia. As a senator he immediately proposed a number of new resolutions to correct the oversights in the constitution. Several of his proposals were adopted and many were used in the Bill of Rights. He had now become one of the strongest advocates of the Bill of Rights. It was a strong part of the new government that he felt they could not afford to leave out. 

Richard continued in the senate until ill health finally for the last time forced his resignation in 1792. Retiring to his Virginia estate Chantilly, near Stratford, in Westmoreland county Virginia he died on June 19, 1794 at the age of sixty-two.

[W]hat we take to be ‘real,’ what we invoke as the naturalized knowledge of gender is, in fact, a changeable and revisable reality. […] Although this insight does not in itself constitute a political revolution, no political revolution is possible without a radical shift in one’s notion of the possible and the real.
—  Judith Butler, 1999 Preface to Gender Trouble (xxiv)

Today is Constitution Day in the US (the day the Constitution was approved by the Constitutional Congress). 

Fun Fact: Alexander Hamilton was the one who wrote the state names next to the delegate signatures on the Constitution. 

Opinion: It’s my view that the Constitution wasn’t the natural conclusion of the American Revolution (as is commonly taught/believed in America), but in actuality is a successful implementation of a counter-revolution against the more radical and democratic ideals of the Revolution.


Empire of the Tsars: The Road to Revolution (BBC4 2016)

Lucy Worsley concludes her history of the Romanov dynasty, investigating how the family’s grip on Russia unravelled in their final century. She shows how the years 1825-1918 were bloody and traumatic, a period when four tsars tried - and failed - to deal with the growing pressure for constitutional reform and revolution.

Lucy finds out how the Romanovs tried to change the system themselves - in 1861, millions of enslaved serfs were freed by the Tsar-Liberator, Alexander II. But Alexander paid the ultimate penalty for opening the Pandora’s box of reform when he was later blown up by terrorists on the streets of St Petersburg.

Elsewhere, there was repression, denial, war and - in the case of the last tsar, Nicholas II - a fatalistic belief in the power of God, with Nicholas’s faith in the notorious holy man Rasputin being a major part in his undoing. Lucy also details the chilling murder of Nicholas and his family in 1918, and asks whether all of this horror have been avoided.

Lucy also shows how there was a growing movement among the people of Russia to determine their own fate. She traces the growth of the intelligentsia, writers and thinkers who sought to have a voice about Russia. Speaking out came with a risk - after Ivan Turgenev wrote about the appalling life of the serfs in 1852, he was sentenced to house arrest by tsar Nicholas I. Lucy also shows how anger against the Romanov regime created a later generation of radicals committed to overturning the status quo. Some would turn to terrorism and, finally, revolution.

As well as political upheaval there is private drama, and Lucy explains how Nicholas II’s family life played into his family’s downfall. His son and heir Alexei suffered from haemophilia - the secrecy the family placed around the condition led them into seclusion, further distancing them from the Russian people. It also led them to the influence of man who seemed to have the power to heal their son, and who was seen as a malign influence on Nicholas - Rasputin.

So, as most of you know, I am irrevocably in love with history.

I am infatuated with every tidbit of information, big and small. I love ancient Rome, imperial Russia, World War II, ancient Sumer, etc. But what I love most of all is American history and the events surrounding my nation. I do have personal reasons for this, seeing as I live here and my family has lived here; in fact, I’m almost certain that my blood can be traced back to the original Mayflower. However, that’s not what makes me American. Anyone can be American. The second reason I love American history is that it’s so completely revolutionary and controversial! The danger of freedom, the spirit of freedom, the nature of liberty and individualism, and the psychology of a deeply motivated young nation.

I am always amazed by today’s technology as well. Look at an object. Think of all the people that died to discover the technology, that died to trying to figure out how to make it, all the components that factor into creating an object. Like a table. Someone had to cut down trees. Someone had to chop wood into shapes. Someone had to invent screws and nails. Someone had to figure out how to sand it and invent the stain to stain it. Someone had to put it together. The things we appreciate today were not instant. It’s easy to forget that. 

I often think about our Founding Fathers. I wonder about their personalities, their demeanor, how they carried themselves and exactly how intelligent they were. If you think about something like the computer, which is far more complicated than a table, my mind nearly blows out the back of my skull. Tons of circuits and configurations worked just right to make something that computes. Even better, the internet! Nearly all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips! Isn’t that absolutely grand and beautiful and wonderful in all ways and shapes? Isn’t it so lovely? One must realize that such grand inventions and leaps in progress come from places where free thought is encouraged and competition is common…like America. The ideals we fought for during the Revolution were, to say in the least, revolutionary. Once we won, the rest of the world was changed forever. Revolutions broke out everywhere. It really was mind-blowing. And it gave way to some amazing technological advancements and progress as a species. Like, holy shit.

Anyway, can’t you think about how Benjamin Franklin would react if he were somehow here today? Or George Washington? Or Alexander Hamilton? Or Thomas Jefferson? Can you imagine their reactions? Sure, they would have to get used to certain things…like we shower, brush our teeth, etc. But the technology! My God, can you imagine how Franklin would react knowing that the electricity he discovered lead way to the invention of the computer? Can you see the pride stored heavily in the heart of Washington, Hamilton, and Jefferson as they realized the nation they were building turned out pretty fucking great? I mean, corruption and awful things aside, America is pretty phenomenal. No place in the world matches it. If you go anywhere else in the world, you’d be completely caught by surprise by the difference. I even known a couple of Brazilians who make fun of America because of how vigilant we are regarding our government…especially when the Brazilian government has extreme corruption that they get away with.

So, I think about a lot how they would react. How would they react? Kind of crazy to think about, right? Would they have ever dreamed of the things that exist today? Would they have every dreamed of computers? How about the weapons we have? Nuclear bombs? Extremely efficient factories and machinery?

It also brings to mind the Bill of Rights and other important historical documents regarding the founding of our nation. Are they still valid? They were written more than 200 years ago, after all. How could they possibly have expected what we have today? How could they possibly have known? Surely some things can be changed, should be changed…


Our Founders were forward-thinkers.
They were extremely intelligent and bright. They risked everything to do what they did. Think about the helplessness of a child to its parent. A child depends on its parent for everything. A child practically idolizes its parent like a god, doing what they do and being gracious for their existence. A child is much like the world was to kings and monarchs. To even consider that all men are equal was freakin’ crazy. To say that rights are endowed by God is even more crazy. But they wrote them. And they risked their friends, their family too. Treason at that time crossed many generations, and once someone was convicted, their family was destined to be destitute and poor. Can no one see how awesome our Founders were?

So, NO. None of the Bill of Rights are outdated. The Federalist Papers, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, every single document that our Founders wrote is still very much valid and very much true. The Second Amendment still applies, now and every day to every weapon. Do you honestly think such enlightened men only thought about the present? Do you honestly believe that such intelligent forward-thinkers only considered the next 10, 20, 50 years? No, certainly not. I like to think that the Founding Fathers would have been able to expect today’s technology, and be delighted by its invention. Because they were already such leading spirits in the first place.

Give credit where it is due. A free nation, forever a free nation. God bless America.

Historical painting depicting Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911) heroes, Sattar Khan (October 20, 1866, Tabriz – November 17, 1914) and Bagher Khan (1870, Tabriz - November 12, 1911)

Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan both were from Tabriz, Azerbaijan province. Tabriz became the center of the Iranian people uprising against absolute monarchy during the Constitutional Revolution which finally led to the establishment of a parliament in Iran.

An Iranian revolutionary poster portraying six 20th century freedom fighters. They were commemorated by leftist student groups as the forerunners of the guerrilla movement. A caption in Persian reads, “We continue the struggle.” The poster depicts:

Baqer Khan (1870-1911), one of the key figures in the Constitutional Revolution who secured Tabriz during the siege of 1908.

Sattar Khan (1866-1914), the folk hero of the Constitutional Revolution and the leader of the constitutionalist Mojahedin forces in Tabriz. 

Haidar Khan ‘Amu Ughlu (1880-1921), head of the executive branch of the Organization of Social Democrats during the Constitutional Revolution.

Mirza Kuchek Khan (1880-1921), founder of the Forest movement uprising in Gilan from 1914 till his defeat in 1921.

Mohammad Taqi-Khan Pessian (1892-1921), a gendarmerie commander who opposed the regime of Premier Qavam al-Saltaneh and the future Shah, Reza Khan. 

Shaikh Mohammad Khiabani (1880–1920), a cleric who revolted against the crown and briefly captured Tabriz in 1919.