Historical story

July 4, 1776, the triumph of the bourgeoisie in the new world

Last updated:2022-07-25

July 4, 1776, with the declaration of independence, the thirteen British colonies on the east coast of North America gave way to a new nation, now known as the United States of America.

The United States is configured as the first totally bourgeois nation in history, whose presence in the world inaugurates (directly or indirectly) a new chapter in the history of humanity that we today call the Contemporary Age.

In reality it is a bit more complicated than that, what inaugurates an intermediate period between the " modern" world of the ancient regime and the "contemporary world "Of nation states in which, in theory, the sovereign is no longer the King or the Emperor, but the people.

What is certain is that, with the declaration of independence, humanity encounters a principle that would soon become universal, namely that all men are equal and have equal rights. Fundamental principle, of an Enlightenment type, which despite being put in black and white on the declaration itself, the founding act of the new nation, and on the subsequent European constitutional papers and later on the various charters of fundamental rights, has often remained unheard or worse, ignored, and despite having equal rights on paper, de facto, slavery still existed in post-independence America. De facto all men were equal and had equal rights, but only if male, white, wealthy, and born in North America or at most in Europe.

That day, July 4, 1776, the American bourgeoisie and the ideas of the Enlightenment triumphed over the old regime, marking the first blow to the traditional aristocracies which, in the course of the following century, would have fallen or in any case forced to restructure themselves in the form of parliamentary monarchies. / P>

With the birth of the USA for many historians the Contemporary age begins, according to others it begins with the French Revolution, also a bourgeois revolution, the first in Europe of a long series that would have engaged Europe at least until 1848.

This period, between 1776 and 1848 it is located in a historiographical limbo, halfway between the modern age and the contemporary age, having both modern and contemporary elements at the same time, but this is another story.

Returning to the American declaration of independence, this document has a very important value in defining the principles that would govern the new world and the new emerging era.

The bourgeois triumph marks the rise of a new ruling class in the world, first in the US and then in Europe, first with Napoleon (which, however, despite being totally a child of the revolution, is still tied to the principles and values ​​of the ancient regime against which it lashes out, trying at the same time to unhinge and reorganize it, trying to carve out a place for himself and his associates in that elitist, restricted and generally inaccessible world) and then with the different revolutionary waves of the 20s, 30s and 48s.

Bourgeois Europe, also strengthened by the industrial revolution, gives the world a new face, a world founded on Enlightenment roots in which all men (in theory) are the same, even if, at least in the USA, slavery still exists, and in Europe a new form of " servility ", A sort of modern feudalism, in which the popular masses are no longer subordinated to the whims of the nobles, but to the ambitions of the new bourgeois masters [cit.] , whose wealth does not derive from land ownership, but from the intensity of its commercial exchanges.

The bourgeois world born from 1776 is a world in which there is an ever greater interconnection of the states and nations of the world, and an ever greater intensification of trade.

This opens the doors to a new social and political vision that manifests itself in the world with the birth of the communist ideology and points to a revenge of the subordinate classes, the popular masses, once forgotten by God and by history become in some way central elements. in the political events of the nineteenth century and over time they would have assumed a role and a dimension, apparently central in the definition of power, with all the risks, particularly highlighted in the twentieth century, that this entails.