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Cato, Roman Stoicism, and the American 'Revolution' Free PDF book

Cato, Roman Stoicism, and the American 'Revolution' Free PDF book

Cato, Roman Stoicism, and the American 'Revolution' Free PDF book

Cato, Roman Stoicism, and the American 'Revolution' Free PDF book


How Stoicism Affected The American Revolution


On December 5, 1773, little more than a week before the Boston Tea Party, Abigail Adams wrote to her good friend Mercy Otis Warren regarding the latest shipment of British tea that had arrived a few days earlier. By this time the American colonies were rapidly spiraling towards war with Britain, and Boston was at the epicenter of American anti-British sentiment. The British tea, brought by the British East India Company on the Dartmouth, triggered another outpouring of colonial opposition to British imperialism as the colonists decried the loss of their English-born right of ‘no taxation without representation’. Exemplifying the colonial mindset, Abigail wrote to Mercy: The Tea that bainfull weed arrives.

Great and I hope Effectual opposition has been made to the landing of it. …The flame is kindled and like Lightning, it catches from Soul to Soul. Great will be the devastation if not timely quenched or allayed by some more Lenient Measures. Altho the mind is shocked at the Thought of shedding Humane Blood, more Especially the Blood of our Countrymen and a civil War is of all Wars, the most dreadful Such is the present Spirit that prevails, that if once they are made desperate Many, very many of our Heroes will spend their lives in the cause, With the Speach of Cato in their Mouths, “What a pity it is, that we can dye but once to save our Country”.

Abigail foreshadowed the bloody war that was about to erupt between Britain and the American colonies, naming it as a civil war rather than seeing it as a revolutionary movement towards independence. She mourned the loss of life that would inevitably occur, drawing on the words of Cato to affirm that death under these circumstances was the preferable action. It is striking that, as she struggled to articulate her concerns about the impending war and the demands that such conflicts made on their citizenry, Abigail found herself reaching across the centuries to the figure of the Roman statesman Cato, a figure who at first glance seems far removed from the tumults of eighteenth-century politics. Yet, Abigail was not alone. At the birth of the war, many found comfort, solace, and inspiration in this figure.


Marcius Porcius Cato (95-46BCE) has been remembered throughout history as being Julius Caesar’s (100-44BCE) most committed and formidable enemy in the final days of the Roman Republic. Cato, the great-grandson of Cato the Censor, was the last prominent statesman in an old Roman family that had long served the Roman Republic. As a senator, Cato aligned himself with Rome’s optimates, the traditionalists who saw themselves as the custodians of the centuries-old system of government that had enabled Rome to become the mighty empire that it was. In the last decades of the Roman Republic Cato bore witness to growing threats against the Rome of his ancestors: political corruption became increasingly rife and there was the steady concentration of military and political power into the hands of individuals, culminating in a political alliance between Caesar and two allies, who amongst themselves effectively controlled Rome.

As a politician and orator Cato spent the majority of his life struggling against Caesar, whom he saw as threatening Rome’s traditional system of governance. Cato fought Caesar across the benches of the Roman Senate House, as well as on the field of battle in the Civil War (49–45 BCE) where the liberty of Rome was a stake. For Cato, Rome without its traditional libertas meant the effective enslavement of its citizens and the corruption of virtue, one of the fundamental values necessary for republican governance. Cato devoted his life and his political skills to opposing Caesar and his allies, trying to save the Republic he loved from eventual disintegration.

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philosophybooks.club: Cato, Roman Stoicism, and the American 'Revolution' Free PDF book
Cato, Roman Stoicism, and the American 'Revolution' Free PDF book
Cato, Roman Stoicism, and the American 'Revolution' Free PDF book
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