American Revolution and its Aftermath

American Revolution and its Aftermath

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The American Revolution marked the divorce of the British Empire and its one of the most valued colonies. Behind the independence that America had fought so hard for, there emerged a diverging society that was eager to embrace new doctrines. The ideals in the revolution that motivated the people to fight for freedom continued to influence American society well beyond the colonial period. For example, the ideas borrowed from John Locke about the natural rights of man was extended in an unsuccessful effort to include women and slaves. The creation of state governments and the search for a national government were the first steps that Americans took to experiment with their own system. Expansion, postwar depression as well as the new distribution of land were all evidence that pointed to the gradual maturing of the economic system. Although America was fast on its way to becoming a strong and powerful nation, the underlying issues brought about by the Revolution remained an important part in the social, political and economical developments that in some instances contradicted revolutionary principles in the period from 1775-1800.

The American Revolution stirred political unity and motivated the need for change in the nation. Because many Americans fought for a more balanced government in the Revolutionary War, they initially created a weak national government that hampered the country's growth and expansion. In the Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, Mrs. Adams complained about the inadequacy of power that the American government had to regulate domestic affairs. The Articles of Confederation was created to be weak because many had feared a similar governing experience that they had just eliminated with Britain. The alliance of states united the 13 local governments but lacked power to deal with important issues or to regulate diplomatic affairs. Congress did not have the power to tax, regulate trade, or draft people for war. This put the American citizens at stake because States had the power to refuse requests for taxes and troops (Document G). The weakened national government could not do anything about uprisings or small-scale protests because it did not have the power to put together an army. The deficiencies of the confederation government inspired the drafting of the American Constitution. The document itself embodied the principle of a national government prepared to deal with the nation's problems. In James Madison's Federalist Paper, he persuades the American public to adopt the Constitution so that the government can protect humans from their nature and keep them out of conflicts.

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The government, according to Madison has to control the citizens and maintain order over the people (Document I). Under a bicameral legislature, the power of the national government was broken down into two houses, the power of the federal government is consolidated but sovereignty still originated from the people. Federalism and the three branches of powers created a representative democracy instead of a pure democracy that encompassed all factions. The ratification of the Constitution as a result of the American Revolution provided the country with stability and anchored it for further development.

The economic situation changed during the war period with respect to debts, taxes and the agriculture. The depiction of a farmer plowing a field next to a liberty statue (Document F) shows the strong will of the American economy to stay strong and independent. It represents how as a result of the revolutionary war, America feels the need to promote agriculture for the sake of domestic growth. Although the document is a form of propaganda, the North and the South did not agree in the direction of economic development that they wanted for the country. The North, especially Alexander Hamilton, advocated the development toward an industry-based economy with the key focus on urban growth. However, the Anti-Federalists imagined an agrarian society with a huge slave population. It was not until Jefferson became the president did the Republican party advocate for agricultural development and not commercial development. After the war, American trade prospered in the sense that it freed itself from trade restrictions and tariffs that Britain required of America. However, another change in economy that happened during this time was the postwar depression. The government lacked enough money to pay soldiers and many merchants cut off their ties with Britain. In addition to mentioning the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation, Document G also mentions that rebellions from those who demand paper currency and an equal distribution of land. This alludes to the Shay's Rebellion where farmers demanded tax relief, paper money and in general relief from their indebtedness. Fighting the war was extremely costly and the huge amount of debt that America was accumulating at the time could not be paid off because Congress lacked the power to tax. Many farmers were dragged into debt and had their land taken away because most did not have enough money to pay the government and were taxed heavily. Even then, the economy was not prosperous enough to pay the soldiers who served in the war as many were paid in government bonds. Dissatisfied citizens protested for a better economy under the new government.

The social effects of the American Revolution can be examined through groups of women, slaves and Native Americans. It is also important to emphasize that the freedom of religion was states in the Statues at Large of Virginia (Document D). The fact that men are free to practice their desired religion or no religion at all differs significantly from the view of the Puritan, New England society. This set the precedent to the Bill of Rights, in which The Woodcut of Patriot Women illustrated how their role had changed dramatically during this time period (Document A). The fact that the woman in the depiction is holding a musket shows that she must be participating in the war at some level. As women's presence became more prevalent in the Revolutionary War, they demanded for an equal place in the society that Americans call free. Their slow but gradual advances in freedom were often met with rejection as the existing patriarchal structure strengthened. (Document J) For example, the Daughters of Liberty emulated the Sons of Liberty in their efforts to fight for freedom but did not find themselves at an equal level with the men. Slaves, another underrepresented group demand for freedom upon the victory of the American Revolution. The Pennsylvania Packet creates nationalistic feelings and prompts citizens to defend themselves and their rights (Document B). Although it may seem like those who take freedom away from Americans shall be banished, the slaves are still unable to control their own destiny. In the Ordinance of 1787, slavery is not permitted because it is incompatible with liberty (Document H). The Native Americans also seem to be excluded from the group. The Indians realize that the war with Britain took away their protection and now they are defenseless (Document C). Many wish to join the English cause because they are aware that the Revolution has weakened the position of Native Americans. American expansion took away most of their land and they seem to be in a hostile relationship with America because of this.

The American Revolution laid the foundation for America and its years to come. Not only did it initiate the serious of changes in several aspects of society, but it also allowed for future changes to be made. The shift in focus from the state to national government stabilized the nation and prompted economic development. The gradual recovery from the war also gave the economy a chance to take an alternate course, independent from that of Britain. The social changes did not immediately open up opportunities for minorities but in some cases (with slaves and women), it raised the awareness for underrepresented groups to be at an equal level.
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