Regarding coups in the United States.

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Thu Apr 18 07:36:11 MDT 2002

 Regarding coups in the United States.
Louis Proyect <lnp3 at>
Subject: Forwarded from Anthony (coups)

In the history of the United States of America there was one very
important coup d'etat - that was the imposition of the Constitution
of the United States over and against the regime established in the
Articles of Confederation. It didn't simply remove one man from
office, it changed the structure of the state in favor of the
commercial bourgeoisie, land owners and speculators, and slave owners
- - and against the interests of small landowners, tenants, small shop
owners, workers, and slaves.

There probably have been several other coups in the United States in
which one President was removed in favor of his Vice President by
means of assasination or forced resignation. The Lincoln, McKinley,
and Kennedy assasinations could all have been this kind of inside job
coup. However, these coups did not change the regime in the United
States - no institutions were abolished, and - in fact - the
personnel of the other main instutions of state power - Congress and
the Supreme Court - were not changed in those presidential
changeovers, and neither was the military structure.


Charles: I agree with what you say , but you are referring to a revolution as a "coup". Most coups are not revolutions, and "coup" is usually used to refer to only the overthrow of the state power which is part of a revolution, not the whole institutional transformation. A coup is specifically a violent change of personnel, not institutions. The Russian Revolution included a coup , but its institutional changes were not the coup aspect.

You suggest that the American revolution was not a revolution.  This is debated by some. Gerald Horne argues your implied position that it was not a revolution.  To the extent that it was a coup, it was not directed at the slaves, small land owners , workers, Indians, women, who did not have the state power under the Articles of Confederation. The coup was directed at the British Imperial state power.  This does not settle the issue you imply, but it's involved if you are discussing the coup d'etat aspect.

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