RealClear Public Affairs: Adam Seagrave on Martin Luther King Jr. and American Revolutionaries

The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton January 3, 1777 (John Trumbull)

RealClearPublicAffairs’s 1776 Series: “Martin Luther King, Jr., the American Revolutionaries, and the Politics of Parallel Reality”

By S. Adam Seagrave


“Throughout the Stamp Act crisis of the 1760s—the “Prologue to Revolution,” according to the title of historian Edmund S. Morgan’s published collection of documents—the British North American colonists sent petition after petition to both houses of the British Parliament. These petitions frequently asserted the rights that the colonists possessed as British subjects. According to the Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, the colonists were “entitled to all the inherent rights and liberties” due to them as “natural born subjects” of the British king. They possessed the same “rights of Englishmen” that had been possessed by British subjects since the time of Magna Carta. Among these rights was that of immunity to taxation without representation—the birth of the rallying cry that now constitutes just about all that most Americans can tell you about the American Revolution.

Most of the colonists at this time argued on the ground of the universally acknowledged geopolitical reality: the British colonies in North America existed under the British imperial constitution and within the jurisdiction of British political authority. They were British subjects with British rights…”

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Adam SeagraveS. Adam Seagrave is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University, as well as Associate Director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and Associate Director of the Center for Political Thought and Leadership. He holds editorial roles with three journals: American Political Thought (University of Chicago Press), Starting Points, and Compass. Professor Seagrave’s teaching and research focus on American political principles, including both their application in American political history and their antecedents in intellectual history. He holds a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame.

Professor Seagrave is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about S. Adam Seagrave >>



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