Did they like Oliver Cromwell, who founded a republic after a dispute about taxes led to the overthrow of a king, or did they see him as a usurping Caesar who destroyed a republic and became a tyrant?

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    Not sure that the analogy to Cromwell is ... supportable. Cromwell didn't set out to found a Republic, Cromwell's dispute was over more than taxes. On the other hand, I don't recall any mention of Cromwell in the writings of the period. – Mark C. Wallace Nov 26 '14 at 18:59
  • Yes, I don't disagree with you, they're not the same. However, some groups have drawn a parallel: enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200402/200402_116_ironsides.cfm freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1761464/posts Mostly the parallel is based around the not wholly accurate assertion that both were 'puritans', an imprecise term in any case. – Ne Mo Nov 26 '14 at 19:11
  • Wow - that's stretching it. I can't imagine any way in which the Founding Fathers could be called "puritans"; I haven't ready any significant evidence that they were looking for religious reform. I think "not wholly accurate" is a masterful understatement. A lightning bug is not like the planet Jupiter either. – Mark C. Wallace Nov 26 '14 at 19:32
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    I seem to recall that the Founding Fathers used lessons from the English Civil War when founding the US, so they did not like him much. But I have an imprecise understanding of their exact feelings of Cromwell himself. Good question. As this is a bit complicated, you could just ask what the Founding fathers thought about him and not try to guess. – Razie Mah Nov 26 '14 at 19:43


On the one side, we have Hamilton denouncing Cromwell in the Federalist Papers No. 21:

Without a guaranty the assistance to be derived from the Union in repelling those domestic dangers which may sometimes threaten the existence of the State constitutions, must be renounced. Usurpation may rear its crest in each State, and trample upon the liberties of the people, while the national government could legally do nothing more than behold its encroachments with indignation and regret. A successful faction may erect a tyranny on the ruins of order and law, while no succor could constitutionally be afforded by the Union to the friends and supporters of the government. The tempestuous situation from which Massachusetts has scarcely emerged, evinces that dangers of this kind are not merely speculative. Who can determine what might have been the issue of her late convulsions, if the malcontents had been headed by a Caesar or by a Cromwell? Who can predict what effect a despotism, established in Massachusetts, would have upon the liberties of New Hampshire or Rhode Island, of Connecticut or New York?

And from the other side, the anti-federalist Brutus papers:

I firmly believe, no country in the world had ever a more patriotic army, than the one which so ably served this country, in the late war.

But had the General who commanded them, been possessed of the spirit of a Julius Cesar or a Cromwell, the liberties of this country, had in all probability, terminated with the war; or had they been maintained, might have cost more blood and treasure, than was expended in the conflict with Great-Britain.

So "Cromwell" is a term of abuse equivalent to "Caesar" for both sides. The answer to your question may be different if you asked if early New England colonists saw Cromwell as a role model. But keep in mind that the southern gentry saw themselves as cavaliers--they would have detested Cromwell. And Americans in this period venerated Cincinnatus, who is effectively the anti-Cromwell.

  • +1 well researched answer. Did you look at Thomas Paine? I was thinking he might have been an early supporter. – Razie Mah Nov 27 '14 at 7:16
  • @RazieMah: Good idea. He had Cromwellian ancestors, but I think he was too radical to approve of Cromwell, both as "leveller" and as a free thinker. From what I see, John Adams was probably the least disapproving of Cromwell, but I still think there was no politically acceptable way to express that. I'd expand, but . . . Thanksgiving! – two sheds Nov 27 '14 at 13:15

Extemely short and simple answer: No, because for one thing, Cromwell eventually set himself up as dictator, the "Lord-Protector", which was simply a title for the person in charge. He first created a non-elected "representative" system before that, where the people in that system were simply nominated but not elected. In other words, he was very much like a Caesar, which started out with having a "Parliament" that he effectively controlled. The person(s) above goes into more detail, but that pretty much sums up why they wouldn't have a positive view of him. That said, ironically, one person who did have a positive view of him was Karl Marx, who viewed him as an early revolutionary.

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    If you're not going to explain how "Lord-Protector" factors into things then its not really an answer... – Semaphore Nov 27 '14 at 6:29
  • "wouldn't have" is hand-waving. I like the other answer better, sorry. – Ne Mo Nov 27 '14 at 9:43
  • edited to elaborate on Lord-Protector – cluemein Dec 2 '14 at 19:38

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