A thought occurred to me while I was watching Glory and thinking about the American Civil War. There was a comment made in the film about how the men were going back to battle like their grandfathers or great-grandfathers did during the American Revolution. So I started thinking about the American Revolution and who the people were who wrote up the Constitution and having the meetings in the tea shops and so forth. Here’s what I found, thanks to http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/ (I’m only going to list the big names)
Benjamin Franklin: we all know what an great inventor he was, and he opened up his own printer’s shop, wrote a magazine, etc. When the Declaration was being written, he was a member of government and rich.
John Adams: prominent public figure, activist, member of various governments, Vice president and then president. Most likely wealthy through all his activities.
John Hancock: a few things stand out: 1) his uncle died and left him one of the largest inheritances in New England at the time, and 2) "In 1768 his sloop Liberty was impounded by customs officials at Boston Harbor, on a charge of running contraband goods. A large group of private citizens stormed the customs post, burned the government boat, and beat the officers, causing them to seek refuge on a ship off shore. Soon afterward, Hancock abetted the Boston Tea Party. " Great. A rich, corrupt man. Interesting.
Samuel Adams: John Adams’ brother, and "son of a merchant and brewer. He was an excellent politician, an unsuccessful brewer, and a poor businessman." Also a politician.
Thomas Jefferson: lawyer, academic, founded the University of Virginia, politician, inherited a large plot of land with house, rumoured to have slept with a female slave or two, president.
I could take this further, but I’m starting to get a little tired here. What interests me is how many of these men (and the others I haven’t listed) are lawyers, land-owners, businessmen, politicians, etc. It’s the men living in the icing of the cake and not the actual base of the population writing up. It made me start to wonder about what governments (federal, provincial/state, and municipal) would look like if it wasn’t up to the elite (intellectually, financially, or resource wealthy) who developed our current governments. What would a government created from the slums look like? What would a government made up of blue collar workers look like? Would society progress or regress with more or less bickering and selfishness?
Oh, crazy thoughts, why must you torture my mind at 4am?