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Mercantilism

an economic system (Europe in 18th C) to increase a nation's wealth by government


regulation of all of the nation's commercial interests
Jamestown
first permanent English settlement in North America
House of Burgesses
the first official legislative assembly in the Colonies
Puritans
A religious group who wanted to purify the Church of England !hey came to America
for religious freedom and settled "assachusetts #ay
Bacon's Rebellion
A rebellion lead by Nathaniel #acon with bac$ country farmers to attac$ Native
Americans in an attempt to gain more land
Mayflower Compact
1%&' ( !he first agreement for self(government in America )t was signed by the *1 men
on the "ayflower and set up a government for the +lymouth colony
New England Colonies
"assachusetts, Connecticut, -hode )sland, New .ampshire
Middle Colonies
New /or$, New 0ersey, +ennsylvania, 1elaware
Soutern Colonies
"aryland, 2irginia, North Carolina, 3outh Carolina, 4eorgia
Middle Passage
the route in between the western ports of Africa to the Caribbean and southern 53 that
carried the slave trade
!riangular !rade
A three way system of trade during 1%''(18''s Africa sent slaves to America, America
sent -aw "aterials to Europe, and Europe sent 4uns and -um to Africa
!his e6hibition demonstrates that many of the colonies that in 177% became the 5nited
3tates of America were settled by men and women of deep religious convictions who in
the seventeenth century crossed the Atlantic 8cean to practice their faith freely !hat the
religious intensity of the original settlers would diminish to some e6tent over time was
perhaps to be e6pected, but new waves of eighteenth century immigrants brought their
own religious fervor across the Atlantic and the nation's first ma9or religious revival in
the middle of the eighteenth century in9ected new vigor into American religion !he result
was that a religious people rose in rebellion against 4reat #ritain in 177%, and that most
American statesmen, when they began to form new governments at the state and national
levels, shared the convictions of most of their constituents that religion was, to :uote
Ale6is de !oc:ueville's observation, indispensable to the maintenance of republican
institutions !he efforts of the ;ounders of the American nation to define the role of
religious faith in public life and the degree to which it could be supported by public
officials that was not inconsistent with the revolutionary imperatives of the e:uality and
freedom of all citi<ens is the central :uestion which this e6hibition e6plores
"nited States
History # !e $merican Re%olution and te early federal republic # &oundations of te $merican
republic
)t had been far from certain that the Americans could fight a successful war against the
might of #ritain !he scattered colonies had little inherent unity= their e6perience of
collective action was limited= an army had to be created and maintained= they had no
common institutions other than the Continental Congress= and they had almost no
e6perience of continental public finance !he Americans could not have hoped to win the
war without ;rench help, and the ;rench monarchy>whose interests were anti(#ritish
but not pro(American>had waited watchfully to see what the Americans could do in the
field Although the ;rench began supplying arms, clothing, and loans surreptitiously soon
after the Americans declared independence, it was not until 1778 that a formal alliance
was forged
"ost of these problems lasted beyond the achievement of independence and continued to
ve6 American politics for many years, even for generations "eanwhile, however, the
colonies had valuable, though less visible, sources of strength +ractically all farmers had
their own arms and could form into militia companies overnight "ore fundamentally,
Americans had for many years been receiving basically the same information, mainly
from the English press, reprinted in identical form in colonial newspapers !he effect of
this was to form a singularly wide body of agreed opinion about ma9or public issues
Another force of incalculable importance was the fact that for several generations
Americans had to a large e6tent been governing themselves through elected assemblies,
which in turn had developed sophisticated e6perience in committee politics
!his factor of ?institutional memory@ was of great importance in the forming of a
mentality of self(government "en became attached to their habitual ways, especially
when these were habitual ways of running their own affairs, and these habits formed the
basis of an ideology 9ust as pervasive and important to the people concerned as
republican theories published in #ritain and the European continent "oreover, colonial
self(government seemed, from a colonial point of view, to be continuous and consistent
with the principles of English government>principles for which +arliament had fought
the Civil Aars in the mid(17th century and which colonists believed to have been
reestablished by the 4lorious -evolution of 1%88B8C )t was e:ually important that
e6perience of self(government had taught colonial leaders how to get things done Ahen
the Continental Congress met in 177*, members did not have to debate procedure (e6cept
on voting)= they already $new it ;inally, the Congress's authority was rooted in traditions
of legitimacy !he old election laws were used 2oters could transfer their allegiance
with minimal difficulty from the dying colonial assemblies to the new assemblies and
conventions of the states
"nited States
History # !e $merican Re%olution and te early federal republic # &oundations of te $merican
republic # Problems before te Second Continental Congress
Ahen the 3econd Continental Congress assembled in +hiladelphia in "ay 177D,
revolution was not a certainty !he Congress had to prepare for that contingency
nevertheless and thus was confronted by two parallel sets of problems !he first was how
to organi<e for war= the second, which proved less urgent but could not be set aside
forever, was how to define the legal relationship between the Congress and the states
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('DD*&8','A','*8'','F''')
4eneral 4eorge Aashington (riding white horse) and his staff welcoming a provision
train of G
!he 4ranger Collection, New /or$
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('DD*&8','A','*8'','F'''))n 0une 177D, in addition to
appointing Aashington (who had made a point of turning up in uniform) commander in
chief, the Congress provided for the enlistment of an army )t then turned to the ve6atious
problems of finance An aversion to ta6ation being one of the unities of American
sentiment, the Congress began by trying to raise a domestic loan )t did not have much
success, however, for the e6cellent reason that the outcome of the operation appeared
highly dubious At the same time, authority was ta$en for issuing a paper currency !his
proved to be the most important method of domestic war finance, and, as the war years
passed, Congress resorted to issuing more and more Continental currency, which
depreciated rapidly and had to compete with currencies issued by state governments
(+eople were inclined to prefer local currencies) !he Continental Army was a further
source of a form of currency because its commission agents issued certificates in
e6change for goods= these certificates bore an official promise of redemption and could
be used in personal transactions Hoans raised overseas, notably in ;rance and the
Netherlands, were another important source of revenue
)n 178' Congress decided to call in all former issues of currency and replace them with a
new issue on a *'(to(1 ratio !he +hiladelphia merchant -obert "orris, who was
appointed superintendent of finance in 1781 and came to be $nown as ?the ;inancier,@
guided the 5nited 3tates through its comple6 fiscal difficulties "orris's personal
finances were ine6tricably tangled up with those of the country, and he became the ob9ect
of much hostile comment, but he also used his own resources to secure urgently needed
loans from abroad )n 1781 "orris secured a charter for the first #an$ of North America,
an institution that owed much to the e6ample of the #an$ of England Although the ban$
was attac$ed by radical egalitarians as an unrepublican manifestation of privilege, it gave
the 5nited 3tates a firmer financial foundation
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&%C','A','F%'','F*C')
0ohn 1ic$inson's draft of the Articles of Confederation
National Archives, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&%C','A','F%'','F*C')!he problem of financing and
organi<ing the war sometimes overlapped with Congress's other ma9or problem, that of
defining its relations with the states !he Congress, being only an association of states,
had no power to ta6 individuals !he Articles of Confederation, a plan of government
organi<ation adopted and put into practice by Congress in 1777, although not officially
ratified by all the states until 1781, gave Congress the right to ma$e re:uisitions on the
states proportionate to their ability to pay !he states in turn had to raise these sums by
their own domestic powers to ta6, a method that state legislators loo$ing for reelection
were reluctant to employ !he result was that many states were constantly in heavy
arrears, and, particularly after the urgency of the war years had subsided, the Congress's
ability to meet e6penses and repay its war debts was crippled
!he Congress lac$ed power to enforce its re:uisitions and fell badly behind in repaying
its wartime creditors Ahen individual states ("aryland as early as 178&, +ennsylvania in
178D) passed legislation providing for repayment of the debt owed to their own citi<ens
by the Continental Congress, one of the reasons for the Congress's e6istence had begun to
crumble !wo attempts were made to get the states to agree to grant the Congress the
power it needed to raise revenue by levying an impost on imports Each failed for want of
unanimous consent Essentially, an impost would have been collected at ports, which
belonged to individual states>there was no ?national@ territory>and therefore cut across
the concept of state sovereignty Agreement was nearly obtained on each occasion, and, if
it had been, the Constitutional Convention might never have been called #ut the failure
sharply pointed up the wea$ness of the Congress and of the union between the states
under the Articles of Confederation
!he Articles of Confederation reflected strong preconceptions of state sovereignty
Article )) e6pressly reserved sovereignty to the states individually, and another article
even envisaged the possibility that one state might go to war without the others
;undamental revisions could be made only with unanimous consent, because the Articles
represented a treaty between sovereigns, not the creation of a new nation(state 8ther
ma9or revisions re:uired the consent of nine states /et state sovereignty principles rested
on artificial foundations !he states could never have achieved independence on their
own, and in fact the Congress had ta$en the first step both in recommending that the
states form their own governments and in declaring their collective independence "ost
important of its domestic responsibilities, by 1787 the Congress had enacted several
ordinances establishing procedures for incorporating new territories ()t had been
conflicts over western land claims that had held up ratification of the Articles Eventually
the states with western claims, principally New /or$ and 2irginia, ceded them to the
5nited 3tates) !he Northwest 8rdinance of 1787 provided for the phased settlement and
government of territories in the 8hio valley, leading to eventual admission as new states
)t also e6cluded the introduction of slavery>though it did not e6clude the retention of
e6isting slaves
!he states had constantly loo$ed to the Congress for leadership in the difficulties of war=
now that the danger was past, however, disunity began to threaten to turn into
disintegration !he Congress was largely discredited in the eyes of a wide range of
influential men, representing both old and new interests !he states were setting up their
own tariff barriers against each other and :uarreling among themselves= virtual war had
bro$en out between competing settlers from +ennsylvania and Connecticut claiming the
same lands #y 178%, well(informed men were discussing a probable brea$up of the
confederation into three or more new groups, which could have led to wars between the
American republics
!he problems of forming a new government affected the states individually as well as in
confederation "ost of them established their own constitutions>formulated either in
conventions or in the e6isting assemblies !he most democratic of these constitutions was
the product of a virtual revolution in +ennsylvania, where a highly organi<ed radical
party sei<ed the opportunity of the revolutionary crisis to gain power 3uffrage was put
on a ta6payer basis, with nearly all adult males paying some ta6= representation was
reformed to bring in the populations of western counties= and a single(chamber legislature
was established An oath of loyalty to the constitution for some time e6cluded political
opponents and particularly Iua$ers (who could not ta$e oaths) from participation !he
constitutions of the other states reflected the firm political ascendancy of the traditional
ruling elite +ower ascended from a broad base in the elective franchise and
representation through a narrowing hierarchy of offices restricted by property
:ualifications 3tate governors had in some cases to be men of great wealth 3enators
were either wealthy or elected by the wealthy sector of the electorate (!hese conditions
were not invariable= 2irginia, which had a powerful landed elite, dispensed with such
restrictions) 3everal states retained religious :ualifications for office= the separation of
church and state was not a popular concept, and minorities such as #aptists and Iua$ers
were sub9ected to indignities that amounted in some places (notably "assachusetts and
Connecticut) to forms of persecution
Elite power provided a lever for one of the most significant transformations of the era,
one that too$ place almost without being either noticed or intended !his was the
acceptance of the principle of giving representation in legislative bodies in proportion to
population )t was made not only possible but attractive when the larger aggregations of
population broadly coincided with the highest concentrations of propertyE great
merchants and landowners from populous areas could continue to e6ert political
ascendancy so long as they retained some sort of hold on the political process !he
principle reemerged to dominate the distribution of voters in the .ouse of
-epresentatives and in the electoral college under the new federal Constitution
-elatively conservative constitutions did little to stem a tide of increasingly democratic
politics !he old elites had to wrestle with new political forces (and in the process they
learned how to organi<e in the new regime) E6ecutive power was wea$ened "any
elections were held annually, and terms were limited Hegislatures :uic$ly admitted new
representatives from recent settlements, many with little previous political e6perience
!he new state governments, moreover, had to tac$le ma9or issues that affected all classes
!he needs of public finance led to emissions of paper money )n several states these were
resumed after the war, and, since they tended (though not invariably) to depreciate, they
led directly to fierce controversies !he treatment of loyalists was also a theme of intense
political dispute after the war 1espite the protests of men such as Ale6ander .amilton,
who urged restoration of property and rights, in many states loyalists were driven out and
their estates sei<ed and redistributed in forms of auction, providing opportunities for
speculation rather than personal occupation "any states were depressed economically
)n "assachusetts, which remained under orthodo6 control, stiff ta6ation under conditions
of postwar depression trapped many farmers into debt 5nable to meet their obligations,
they rose late in 178% under a -evolutionary Aar officer, Capt 1aniel 3hays, in a
movement to prevent the court sessions 3hays's -ebellion was crushed early in 1787 by
an army raised in the state !he action caused only a few casualties, but the episode sent a
shiver of fear throughout the country's propertied classes )t also seemed to 9ustify the
classical thesis that republics were unstable )t thus provided a potent stimulus to state
legislatures to send delegates to the convention called (following a preliminary meeting
in Annapolis) to meet at +hiladelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('DDDFC','A','DD'','F%1')!he +hiladelphia Convention,
which met in "ay 1787, was officially called for by the old Congress solely to remedy
defects in the Articles of Confederation #ut the 2irginia +lan presented by the 2irginia
delegates went beyond revision and boldly proposed to introduce a new, national
government in place of the e6isting confederation !he convention thus immediately
faced the :uestion of whether the 5nited 3tates was to be a country in the modern sense
or would continue as a wea$ federation of autonomous and e:ual states represented in a
single chamber, which was the principle embodied in the New 0ersey +lan presented by
several small states !his decision was effectively made when a compromise plan for a
bicameral legislature>one house with representation based on population and one with
e:ual representation for all states>was approved in mid(0uly !hough neither plan
prevailed, the new national government in its final form was endowed with broad powers
that made it indisputably national and superior
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('C&'F&','A','F8*','*D'')
8riginal copy of the 53 Constitution, housed in the National Archives in Aashington,
1C
J 3teve #ronstein>!he )mage #an$K4etty )mages
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('C&'F&','A','F8*','*D'')!he Constitution, as it emerged
after a summer of debate, embodied a much stronger principle of separation of powers
than was generally to be found in the state constitutions !he chief e6ecutive was to be a
single figure (a composite e6ecutive was discussed and re9ected) and was to be elected by
an electoral college, meeting in the states !his followed much debate over the 2irginia
+lan's preference for legislative election !he principal control on the chief e6ecutive, or
president, against violation of the Constitution was the rather remote threat of
impeachment (to which 0ames "adison attached great importance) !he 2irginia +lan's
proposal that representation be proportional to population in both houses was severely
modified by the retention of e:ual representation for each state in the 3enate #ut the
:uestion of whether to count slaves in the population was abrasive After some
contention, antislavery forces gave way to a compromise by which three(fifths of the
slaves would be counted as population for purposes of representation (and direct
ta6ation) 3lave states would thus be perpetually overrepresented in national politics=
provision was also added for a law permitting the recapture of fugitive slaves, though in
deference to republican scruples the word slaves was not used (See also 3idebarE !he
;ounding ;athers and 3lavery)
Contemporary theory e6pected the legislature to be the most powerful branch of
government !hus, to balance the system, the e6ecutive was given a veto, and a 9udicial
system with powers of review was established )t was also implicit in the structure that
the new federal 9udiciary would have power to veto any state laws that conflicted either
with the Constitution or with federal statutes 3tates were forbidden to pass laws
impairing obligations of contract>a measure aimed at encouraging capital>and the
Congress could pass no e6 post facto law #ut the Congress was endowed with the basic
powers of a modern>and sovereign>government !his was a republic, and the 5nited
3tates could confer no aristocratic titles of honour !he prospect of eventual enlargement
of federal power appeared in the clause giving the Congress powers to pass legislation
?necessary and proper@ for implementing the general purposes of the Constitution
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF1','A','**&','FD'')
Cartoon depicting attac$s on the +ennsylvania state constitution by self(interest groups
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF1','A','**&','FD'')!he states retained their civil
9urisdiction, but there was an emphatic shift of the political centre of gravity to the federal
government, of which the most fundamental indication was the universal understanding
that this government would act directly on citi<ens, as individuals, throughout all the
states, regardless of state authority !he language of the Constitution told of the new
styleE it began, ?Ae the people of the 5nited 3tates,@ rather than ?Ae the people of New
.ampshire, "assachusetts, etc@
!he draft Constitution aroused widespread opposition Anti(;ederalists>so(called
because their opponents deftly sei<ed the appellation of ?;ederalists,@ though they were
really nationalists>were strong in states such as 2irginia, New /or$, and "assachusetts,
where the economy was relatively successful and many people saw little need for such
e6treme remedies Anti(;ederalists also e6pressed fears>here touches of class conflict
certainly arose>that the new government would fall into the hands of merchants and
men of money "any good republicans detected oligarchy in the structure of the 3enate,
with its si6(year terms !he absence of a bill of rights aroused deep fears of central
power !he ;ederalists, however, had the advantages of communications, the press,
organi<ation, and, generally, the better of the argument Anti(;ederalists also suffered the
disadvantage of having no internal coherence or unified purpose
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('C&'FF','A','DD'','*1D')
The Federalist, written by Ale6ander .amilton, 0ames "adison, and 0ohn G
A+9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDC','A','F%F','*D'')
Ale6ander .amilton, detail of an oil painting by 0ohn !rumbull= in the National 4allery
of Art, G
Courtesy of the National 4allery of Art, Aashington, 1C, Andrew "ellon Collection
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('C&'FF','A','DD'','*1D')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly
('11FDC','A','F%F','*D'')!he debate gave rise to a very intensive literature, much of it at a
very high level !he most sustained pro(;ederalist argument, written mainly by .amilton
and "adison (assisted by 0ay) under the pseudonym +ublius, appeared in the newspapers
as The Federalist !hese essays attac$ed the feebleness of the confederation and claimed
that the new Constitution would have advantages for all sectors of society while
threatening none )n the course of the debate, they passed from a strongly nationalist
standpoint to one that showed more respect for the idea of a mi6ed form of government
that would safeguard the states "adison contributed assurances that a multiplicity of
interests would counteract each other, preventing the consolidation of power continually
charged by their enemies
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('C*%&1','A','*&*','*D'')
53 #ill of -ights, 17C1
National Archives>!ime Hife +icturesK4etty )mages
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('C*%&1','A','*&*','*D'')!he #ill of -ights, steered
through the first Congress by "adison's diplomacy, mollified much of the latent
opposition !hese first 1' amendments, ratified in 17C1, adopted into the Constitution the
basic English common(law rights that Americans had fought for #ut they did more
5nli$e #ritain, the 5nited 3tates secured a guarantee of freedom for the press and the
right of (peaceable) assembly Also unli$e #ritain, church and state were formally
separated in a clause that seemed to set e:ual value on nonestablishment of religion and
its free e6ercise (!his left the states free to maintain their own establishments)
)n state conventions held through the winter of 1787 to the summer of 1788, the
Constitution was ratified by the necessary minimum of nine states #ut the vote was
desperately close in 2irginia and New /or$, respectively the 1'th and 11th states to
ratify, and without them the whole scheme would have been built on sand
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF&','A','*D*','FD'')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembl
y('C&&8%','A','F'1','*D'')!he American -evolution was a great social upheaval but one
that was widely diffused, often gradual, and different in different regions !he principles
of liberty and e:uality stood in star$ conflict with the institution of African slavery,
which had built much of the country's wealth 8ne gradual effect of this conflict was the
decline of slavery in all the Northern states= another was a spate of manumissions by
liberal slave owners in 2irginia #ut with most slave owners, especially in 3outh
Carolina and 4eorgia, ideals counted for nothing !hroughout the slave states, the
institution of slavery came to be reinforced by a white supremacist doctrine of racial
inferiority !he manumissions did result in the development of new communities of free
blac$s, who en9oyed considerable freedom of movement for a few years and who
produced some outstanding figures, such as the astronomer #en9amin #anne$er and the
religious leader -ichard Allen, a founder of the African "ethodist Episcopal Church
Lion #ut in the 17C's and after, the condition of free blac$s deteriorated as states
adopted laws restricting their activities, residences, and economic choices )n general they
came to occupy poor neighbourhoods and grew into a permanent underclass, denied
education and opportunity
!he American -evolution also dramati<ed the economic importance of women Aomen
had always contributed indispensably to the operation of farms and often businesses,
while they seldom ac:uired independent status= but, when war removed men from the
locality, women often had to ta$e full charge, which they proved they could do
-epublican ideas spread among women, influencing discussion of women's rights,
education, and role in society 3ome states modified their inheritance and property laws
to permit women to inherit a share of estates and to e6ercise limited control of property
after marriage 8n the whole, however, the -evolution itself had only very gradual and
diffused effects on women's ultimate status 3uch changes as too$ place amounted to a
fuller recognition of the importance of women as mothers of republican citi<ens rather
than ma$ing them into independent citi<ens of e:ual political and civil status with men
Aillard " Aallace
Americans had fought for independence to protect common(law rights= they had no
program for legal reform 4radually, however, some customary practices came to seem
out of $eeping with republican principles !he outstanding e6ample was the law of
inheritance !he new states too$ steps, where necessary, to remove the old rule of
primogeniture in favour of e:ual partition of intestate estates= this conformed to both the
egalitarian and the individualist principles preferred by American society .umani<ation
of the penal codes, however, occurred only gradually, in the 1Cth century, inspired as
much by European e6ample as by American sentiment
-eligion played a central role in the emergence of a distinctively ?American@ society in
the first years of independence 3everal $ey developments too$ place 8ne was the
creation of American denominations independent of their #ritish and European origins
and leadership #y 178C American Anglicans (renaming themselves Episcopalians),
"ethodists (formerly Aesleyans), -oman Catholics, and members of various #aptist,
Hutheran, and 1utch -eformed congregations had established organi<ations and chosen
leaders who were born in or full(time residents of what had become the 5nited 3tates of
America Another pivotal postindependence development was a re$indling of religious
enthusiasm, especially on the frontier, that opened the gates of religious activism to the
laity 3till another was the disestablishment of ta6(supported churches in those states
most deeply feeling the impact of democratic diversity And finally, this period saw the
birth of a liberal and socially aware version of Christianity uniting Enlightenment values
with American activism
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('%'%81','A','D1C','FD'')
Early 1Cth(century "ethodist camp meeting
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('%'%81','A','D1C','FD'')#etween 17C8 and 18'' a sudden
burst of revitali<ation shoo$ frontier +rotestant congregations, beginning with a great
revival in Hogan county, My, under the leadership of men such as 0ames "c4ready and
the brothers 0ohn and Ailliam "c4ee !his was followed by a gigantic camp meeting at
Cane -idge, where thousands were ?converted@ !he essence of the frontier revival was
that this conversion from mere formal Christianity to a full conviction in 4od's mercy for
the sinner was a deeply emotional e6perience accessible even to those with much faith
and little learning 3o e6horters who were barely literate themselves could preach
brimstone and fire and showers of grace, bringing repentant listeners to a state of
e6citement in which they would weep and groan, writhe and faint, and undergo physical
transports in full public view
?.eart religion@ supplanted ?head religion@ ;or the largely 3cotch()rish +resbyterian
ministers in the Aest, this led to dangerous territory, because the official church
leadership preferred more decorum and biblical scholarship from its pastors "oreover,
the idea of winning salvation by noisy penitence undercut Calvinist predestination )n
fact, the fracture along fault lines of class and geography led to several schisms
"ethodism had fewer problems of this $ind )t never embraced predestination, and, more
to the point, its structure was democratic, with rudimentarily educated lay preachers able
to rise from leading individual congregations to presiding over districts and regional
?conferences,@ eventually embracing the entire church membership "ethodism fitted
very neatly into frontier conditions through its use of traveling ministers, or circuit riders,
who rode from isolated settlement to settlement, saving souls and mightily liberali<ing
the word of 4od
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('88'%','A','F*8','*D'')
Hyman #eecher, detail of an oil painting by Chester .arding= in the /ale 5niversity Art
4allery
Courtesy of the /ale 5niversity Art 4allery, gift of A!- "arvin
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('88'%','A','F*8','*D'')!he revival spirit rolled bac$
eastward to inspire a ?3econd 4reat Awa$ening,@ especially in New England, that
emphasi<ed gatherings that were less uninhibited than camp meetings but warmer than
conventional Congregational and +resbyterian services 8rdained and college(educated
ministers such as Hyman #eecher made it their mission to promote revivalism as a
counterweight to the 1eism of some of the ;ounding ;athers and the atheism of the
;rench -evolution (See 3idebarE !he ;ounding ;athers, 1eism, and Christianity)
-evivals also gave churches a new grasp on the loyalties of their congregations through
lay participation in spreading the good word of salvation !his voluntarism more than
offset the gradual state(by(state cancellation of ta6payer support for individual
denominations
!he era of the early republic also saw the growth, especially among the urban educated
elite of #oston, of a gentler form of Christianity embodied in 5nitarianism, which rested
on the notion of an essentially benevolent 4od who made his will $nown to human$ind
through their e6ercise of the reasoning powers bestowed on them )n the 5nitarian view,
0esus Christ was simply a great moral teacher "any Christians of the ?middling@ sort
viewed 5nitarianism as e6cessively concerned with ideas and social reform and far too
indulgent or indifferent to the e6istence of sin and 3atan #y 181D, then, the social
structure of American +rotestantism, firmly embedded in many activist forms in the
national culture, had ta$en shape
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('F8F%','A','D&D','F*F')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('
%'%D%','A','%''','F&*')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDFF','A','*D1','F''')!he first
elections under the new Constitution were held in 178C 4eorge Aashington was
unanimously voted the country's first president .is secretary of the treasury, Ale6ander
.amilton, formed a clear(cut program that soon gave substance to the old fears of the
Anti(;ederalists .amilton, who had believed since the early 178's that a national debt
would be ?a national blessing,@ both for economic reasons and because it would act as a
?cement@ to the union, used his new power base to reali<e the ambitions of the
nationalists .e recommended that the federal government pay off the old Continental
Congress's debts at par rather than at a depreciated value and that it assume state debts,
drawing the interests of the creditors toward the central government rather than state
governments !his plan met strong opposition from the many who had sold their
securities at great discount during the postwar depression and from 3outhern states,
which had repudiated their debts and did not want to be ta6ed to pay other states' debts A
compromise in Congress was reached>than$s to the efforts of 3ecretary of 3tate
0efferson>whereby 3outhern states approved .amilton's plan in return for Northern
agreement to fi6 the location of the new national capital on the ban$s of the +otomac,
closer to the 3outh Ahen .amilton ne6t introduced his plan to found a #an$ of the
5nited 3tates, modeled on the #an$ of England, opposition began to harden "any
argued that the Constitution did not confide this power to Congress .amilton, however,
persuaded Aashington that anything not e6pressly forbidden by the Constitution was
permitted under implied powers>the beginning of ?loose@ as opposed to ?strict@
constructionist interpretations of the Constitution !he #an$ Act passed in 17C1
.amilton also advocated plans for the support of nascent industry, which proved
premature, and he imposed the revenue(raising whis$ey e6cise that led to the Ahis$ey
-ebellion, a minor uprising in western +ennsylvania in 17C*
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&71','A','&**','FD'')
English caricature of !homas +aine's involvement in the ;rench -evolution
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&71','A','&**','FD'')A party opposed to .amilton's
fiscal policies began to form in Congress Aith "adison at its centre and with support
from 0efferson, it soon e6tended its appeal beyond Congress to popular constituencies
"eanwhile, the ;rench -evolution and ;rance's subse:uent declaration of war against
4reat #ritain, 3pain, and .olland further divided American loyalties 1emocratic(
-epublican societies sprang up to e6press support for ;rance, while .amilton and his
supporters, $nown as ;ederalists, bac$ed #ritain for economic reasons Aashington
pronounced American neutrality in Europe, but to prevent a war with #ritain he sent
Chief 0ustice 0ohn 0ay to Hondon to negotiate a treaty )n the 0ay !reaty (17C*) the
5nited 3tates gained only minor concessions and>humiliatingly>accepted #ritish naval
supremacy as the price of protection for American shipping
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('817'','A','F77','*D'')
0ohn Adams, oil painting by 4ilbert 3tuart, 18&%= in the National "useum of American
Art, G
J 3mithsonian American Art "useum, Aashington, 1CKArt -esource, New /or$
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('817'','A','F77','*D'')Aashington, whose tolerance had
been severely strained by the Ahis$ey -ebellion and by criticism of the 0ay !reaty,
chose not to run for a third presidential term )n his ;arewell Address (see original te6t),
in a passage drafted by .amilton, he denounced the new party politics as divisive and
dangerous +arties did not yet aspire to national ob9ectives, however, and, when the
;ederalist 0ohn Adams was elected president, the 1emocrat(-epublican 0efferson, as the
presidential candidate with the second greatest number of votes, became vice president
(See primary source documentE -ight of ;ree Elections) Aars in Europe and on the high
seas, together with rampant opposition at home, gave the new administration little peace
2irtual naval war with ;rance had followed from American acceptance of #ritish naval
protection )n 17C8 a ;rench attempt to solicit bribes from American commissioners
negotiating a settlement of differences (the so(called N/L Affair) aroused a wave of anti(
;rench feeling Hater that year the ;ederalist ma9ority in Congress passed the Alien and
3edition Acts, which imposed serious civil restrictions on aliens suspected of pro(;rench
activities and penali<ed 53 citi<ens who critici<ed the government, ma$ing nonsense of
the ;irst Amendment's guarantee of free press !he acts were most often invo$ed to
prosecute -epublican editors, some of whom served 9ail terms !hese measures in turn
called forth the 2irginia and Mentuc$y resolutions, drafted respectively by "adison and
0efferson, which invo$ed state sovereignty against intolerable federal powers Aar with
;rance often seemed imminent during this period, but Adams was determined to avoid
issuing a formal declaration of war, and in this he succeeded
!a6ation, which had been levied to pay anticipated war costs, brought more discontent,
however, including a new minor rising in +ennsylvania led by 0acob ;ries ;ries's
-ebellion was put down without difficulty, but widespread disagreement over issues
ranging from civil liberties to ta6ation was polari<ing American politics A basic sense of
political identity now divided ;ederalists from -epublicans, and in the election of 18''
0efferson drew on deep sources of Anti(;ederalist opposition to challenge and defeat his
old friend and colleague Adams !he result was the first contest over the presidency
between political parties and the first actual change of government as a result of a general
election in modern history
'()* to ')'+ # !e Jeffersonian Republicans in power
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('&C%*','A','&&*','F''')
!homas 0efferson, portrait by an anonymous artist, 1Cth century= in the National "useum
of G
4iraudonKArt -esource, New /or$
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('&C%*','A','&&*','F''')0efferson began his presidency
with a plea for reconciliationE ?Ae are all -epublicans, we are all ;ederalists@ (See ;irst
)naugural original te6t) .e had no plans for a permanent two(party system of
government .e also began with a strong commitment to limited government and strict
construction of the Constitution All these commitments were soon to be tested by the
e6igencies of war, diplomacy, and political contingency
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('8C&1C','A','718','*&7')
Map/Still
EncyclopOdia #ritannica, )nc9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('D&117','A','&C1','F''')
3hoshone guide 3acagawea with "eriwether Hewis and Ailliam Clar$, oil and tempera
on panel by NC G
!he 4ranger Collection, New /or$
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('8C&1C','A','718','*&7')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly
('D&117','A','&C1','F''')8n the American continent, 0efferson pursued a policy of
e6pansion .e sei<ed the opportunity when Napoleon ) decided to relin:uish ;rench
ambitions in North America by offering the Houisiana territory for sale (3pain had
recently ceded the territory to ;rance) !his e6traordinary ac:uisition, the Houisiana
+urchase, bought at a price of a few cents per acre, more than doubled the area of the
5nited 3tates 0efferson had no constitutional sanction for such an e6ercise of e6ecutive
power= he made up the rules as he went along, ta$ing a broad construction view of the
Constitution on this issue .e also sought opportunities to gain ;lorida from 3pain, and,
for scientific and political reasons, he sent "eriwether Hewis and Ailliam Clar$ on an
e6pedition of e6ploration across the continent !his territorial e6pansion was not without
problems 2arious separatist movements periodically arose, including a plan for a
Northern Confederacy formulated by New England ;ederalists Aaron #urr, who had
been elected 0efferson's vice president in 18'' but was replaced in 18'*, led several
western conspiracies Arrested and tried for treason, he was ac:uitted in 18'7
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('1&8*C','A','F7'','*D'')
0ohn "arshall, crayon portrait by Charles(#altha<ar(0ulien ;Pvret de 3aint("Pmin= in G
Courtesy of 1u$e 5niversity, 1urham, NC
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('1&8*C','A','F7'','*D'')As chief e6ecutive, 0efferson
clashed with members of the 9udiciary, many of whom had been late appointments by
Adams 8ne of his primary opponents was the late appointee Chief 0ustice 0ohn
"arshall, most notably in the case of Marbury v Madison (18'F), in which the 3upreme
Court first e6ercised the power of 9udicial review of congressional legislation
#y the start of 0efferson's second term in office, Europe was engulfed in the Napoleonic
Aars !he 5nited 3tates remained neutral, but both #ritain and ;rance imposed various
orders and decrees severely restricting American trade with Europe and confiscated
American ships for violating the new rules #ritain also conducted impressment raids in
which 53 citi<ens were sometimes sei<ed 5nable to agree to treaty terms with #ritain,
0efferson tried to coerce both #ritain and ;rance into ceasing to violate ?neutral rights@
with a total embargo on American e6ports, enacted by Congress in 18'7 !he results
were catastrophic for American commerce and produced bitter alienation in New
England, where the embargo (written bac$ward as ?8 grab me@) was held to be a
3outhern plot to destroy New England's wealth )n 18'C, shortly after "adison was
elected president, the embargo act was repealed
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('1&7%C','A','&*C','F''')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly
('11FDF*','A','*CC','FD'')"adison's presidency was dominated by foreign affairs #oth
#ritain and ;rance committed depredations on American shipping, but #ritain was more
resented, partly because with the greatest navy it was more effective and partly because
Americans were e6tremely sensitive to #ritish insults to national honour Certain
e6pansionist elements loo$ing to both ;lorida and Canada began to press for war and
too$ advantage of the issue of naval protection "adison's own aim was to preserve the
principle of freedom of the seas and to assert the ability of the 5nited 3tates to protect its
own interests and its citi<ens Ahile striving to confront the European adversaries
impartially, he was drawn into war against #ritain, which was declared in 0une 181& on a
vote of 7CB*C in the .ouse and 1CB1F in the 3enate !here was almost no support for war
in the strong ;ederalist New England states
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDFD','A','DF'','FD'')
Cartoon from 181& showing Columbia (the 5nited 3tates) warning Napoleon ) that she
will deal with G
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington,
1C9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF%','A','DD'','F8C')
Cartoon showing +res 0ames "adison fleeing from Aashington, 1C, which is being
burned by the G
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C (neg no HC(53L%&(
1DDC)9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF7','A','D&D','FD'')
A tableau of the !reaty of 4hent, signed in #elgium, 1ecember &*, 181*
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDFD','A','DF'','FD'')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembl
y('11FDF%','A','DD'','F8C')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF7','A','D&D','FD'')!he
Aar of 181& began and ended in irony !he #ritish had already rescinded the offending
orders in council, but the news had not reached the 5nited 3tates at the time of the
declaration !he Americans were poorly placed from every point of view )deological
ob9ections to armies and navies had been responsible for a minimal naval force
)deological ob9ections to ban$s had been responsible, in 181&, for the 3enate's refusal to
renew the charter of the #an$ of the 5nited 3tates "ercantile sentiment was hostile to
the administration 5nder the circumstances, it was remar$able that the 5nited 3tates
succeeded in staggering through two years of war, eventually winning important naval
successes at sea, on the 4reat Ha$es, and on Ha$e Champlain 8n land a #ritish raiding
party burned public buildings in Aashington, 1C, and drove +resident "adison to flee
from the capital !he only action with long(term implications was Andrew 0ac$son's
victory at the #attle of New 8rleans>won in 0anuary 181D, two wee$s after peace had
been achieved with the signing of the !reaty of 4hent (#elg) 0ac$son's political
reputation rose directly from this battle
)n historical retrospect, the most important aspect of the peace settlement was an
agreement to set up a boundary commission for the Canadian border, which could
thenceforth be left unguarded )t was not the end of Anglo(American hostility, but the
agreement mar$ed the advent of an era of mutual trust !he conclusion of the Aar of
181&, which has sometimes been called the 3econd Aar of American )ndependence,
mar$ed a historical cycle )t resulted in a pacification of the old feelings of pain and
resentment against 4reat #ritain and its people>still for many Americans a $ind of
paternal relationship And, by freeing them of an6ieties on this front, it also freed
Americans to loo$ to the Aest
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('D&1*1','A','DD'','FD7')!he young 5nited 3tates
believed that it had inherited an ?)ndian problem,@ but it would be e:ually fair to say that
the victory at /or$town confronted the )ndians with an insoluble ?American problem@
Ahereas they had earlier dealt with representatives of Europe(based empires see$ing
only access to selected resources from a distant continent, now they faced a resident,
united people yearly swelling in numbers, determined to ma$e every acre of the Aest
their own and culturally convinced of their absolute title under the laws of 4od and
history !here was no room for compromise Even before 177%, each step toward
American independence reduced the )ndians' control over their own future !he
+roclamation Hine of 17%F was almost immediately violated by men li$e 1aniel #oone
on the Mentuc$y frontier )n the western parts of +ennsylvania and New /or$, however,
despite e6tensive )ndian land concessions in the 17%8 !reaty of ;ort 3tanwi6, they still
had enough power to bar an advance toward the 8hio 2alley and the 4reat Ha$es
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('1%1'1*','A','DD'','F8&')
#attle of !ippecanoe, lithograph by Mur< and Allison c. 188C
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C (digital file no FbD&&C&u)
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('1%1'1*','A','DD'','F8&');or armed resistance to have
had any hope of success, unity would be re:uired between all the )ndians from the
Appalachians to the "ississippi !his unity simply could not be achieved !he 3hawnee
leaders $nown as !ens$atawa, or the +rophet, and his brother !ecumseh attempted this
$ind of rallying movement, much as +ontiac had done some *' years earlier, with e:ual
lac$ of success 3ome help was forthcoming in the form of arms from #ritish traders
remaining in the Northwest !erritory in violation of the peace treaty, but the )ndians
failed to secure victory in a clash with American militia and regulars at the #attle of
!ippecanoe Cree$ (near present(day Aest Hafayette, )nd) in 1811
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&*%','A','D%7','FD'')
An American cartoon attac$ing the alliance between the ?.umane #ritish@ and the
)ndians G
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&*%','A','D%7','FD'')!he outbrea$ of the Aar of
181& spar$ed renewed )ndian hopes of protection by the crown, should the #ritish win
!ecumseh himself was actually commissioned as a general in the royal forces, but, at the
#attle of the !hames in 181F, he was $illed, and his dismembered body parts, according
to legend, were divided between his con:uerors as gruesome souvenirs
"eanwhile, in 181*, 53 4en Andrew 0ac$son defeated the #ritish(supported Cree$s in
the 3outhwest in the #attle of .orseshoe #end !he war itself ended in a draw that left
American territory intact !hereafter, with minor e6ceptions, there was no ma9or )ndian
resistance east of the "ississippi After the lusty first :uarter century of American
nationhood, all roads left open to Native Americans ran downhill
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('F8F7','A','D&F','F77')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('
1F'D1','A','&*D','F''')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('%'7*D','A','&D%','FD'')!he years
between the election to the presidency of 0ames "onroe in 181% and of 0ohn Iuincy
Adams in 18&* have long been $nown in American history as the Era of 4ood ;eelings
!he phrase was conceived by a #oston editor during "onroe's visit to New England early
in his first term !hat a representative of the heartland of ;ederalism could spea$ in such
positive terms of the visit by a 3outhern president whose decisive election had mar$ed
not only a sweeping -epublican victory but also the demise of the national ;ederalist
+arty was dramatic testimony that former foes were inclined to put aside the sectional and
political differences of the past
Hater scholars have :uestioned the strategy and tactics of the 5nited 3tates in the Aar of
181&, the war's tangible results, and even the wisdom of commencing it in the first place
!o contemporary Americans, however, the stri$ing naval victories and 0ac$son's victory
over the #ritish at New 8rleans created a reservoir of ?good feeling@ on which "onroe
was able to draw
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&7%','A','DD'','&%7')
Note from !homas 0efferson to 0ames "adison commenting on the "onroe 1octrine,
8ctober 18&F
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&7%','A','DD'','&%7')Abetting the mood of
nationalism was the foreign policy of the 5nited 3tates after the war ;lorida was
ac:uired from 3pain (181C) in negotiations, the success of which owed more to 0ac$son's
indifference to such niceties as the inviolability of foreign borders and to the country's
evident readiness to bac$ him up than it did to diplomatic finesse !he "onroe 1octrine
(18&F), actually a few phrases inserted in a long presidential message (see original te6t),
declared that the 5nited 3tates would not become involved in European affairs and would
not accept European interference in the Americas= its immediate effect on other nations
was slight, and that on its own citi<enry was impossible to gauge, yet its self(assured tone
in warning off the 8ld Aorld from the New reflected well the nationalist mood that
swept the country
)nternally, the decisions of the 3upreme Court under Chief 0ustice "arshall in such cases
as McCulloch v Maryland (181C) and Gibbons v Ogden (18&*) promoted nationalism
by strengthening Congress and national power at the e6pense of the states !he
congressional decision to charter the second #an$ of the 5nited 3tates (181%) was
e6plained in part by the country's financial wea$nesses, e6posed by the Aar of 181&, and
in part by the intrigues of financial interests !he readiness of 3outhern 0effersonians>
former strict constructionists>to support such a measure indicates, too, an ama<ing
degree of nationalist feeling +erhaps the clearest sign of a new sense of national unity
was the victorious -epublican +arty, standing in solitary splendour on the national
political hori<on, its long(time foes the ;ederalists vanished without a trace (on the
national level) and "onroe, the -epublican standard(bearer, reelected so overwhelmingly
in 18&' that it was long believed that the one electoral vote denied him had been held
bac$ only in order to preserve Aashington's record of unanimous selection
;or all the signs of national unity and feelings of oneness, e:ually convincing evidence
points in the opposite direction !he very 3upreme Court decisions that delighted friends
of strong national government infuriated its opponents, while "arshall's defense of the
rights of private property was construed by critics as betraying a predilection for one $ind
of property over another !he growth of the Aest, encouraged by the con:uest of )ndian
lands during the Aar of 181&, was by no means regarded as an unmi6ed blessing Eastern
conservatives sought to $eep land prices high= speculative interests opposed a policy that
would be advantageous to poor s:uatters= politicians feared a change in the sectional
balance of power= and businessmen were wary of a new section with interests unli$e their
own European visitors testified that, even during the so(called Era of 4ood ;eelings,
Americans characteristically e6pressed scorn for their countrymen in sections other than
their own
Economic hardship, especially the financial panic of 181C, also created disunity !he
causes of the panic were comple6, but its greatest effect was clearly the tendency of its
victims to blame it on one or another hostile or malevolent interest>whether the second
#an$ of the 5nited 3tates, Eastern capitalists, selfish speculators, or perfidious politicians
>each charge e6pressing the bad feeling that e6isted side by side with the good
)f harmony seemed to reign on the level of national political parties, disharmony
prevailed within the states )n the early 1Cth(century 5nited 3tates, local and state politics
were typically waged less on behalf of great issues than for petty gain !hat the goals of
politics were often sordid did not mean that political contests were bland )n every
section, state factions led by shrewd men waged bitter political warfare to attain or
entrench themselves in power
!he most dramatic manifestation of national division was the political struggle over
slavery, particularly over its spread into new territories !he "issouri Compromise of
18&' eased the threat of further disunity, at least for the time being !he sectional balance
between the states was preservedE in the Houisiana +urchase, with the e6ception of the
"issouri !erritory, slavery was to be confined to the area south of the F%QF' line /et
this compromise did not end the crisis but only postponed it !he determination by
Northern and 3outhern senators not to be outnumbered by one another suggests that the
people continued to believe in the conflicting interests of the various great geographic
sections !he weight of evidence indicates that the decade after the #attle of New 8rleans
was not an era of good feelings so much as one of mi6ed feelings
!he American economy e6panded and matured at a remar$able rate in the decades after
the Aar of 181& !he rapid growth of the Aest created a great new centre for the
production of grains and por$, permitting the country's older sections to speciali<e in
other crops New processes of manufacture, particularly in te6tiles, not only accelerated
an ?industrial revolution@ in the Northeast but also, by drastically enlarging the Northern
mar$et for raw materials, helped account for a boom in 3outhern cotton production )f by
midcentury 3outherners of European descent had come to regard slavery>on which the
cotton economy relied>as a ?positive good@ rather than the ?necessary evil@ that they
had earlier held the system to be, it was largely because of the increasingly central role
played by cotton in earning profits for the region )ndustrial wor$ers organi<ed the
country's first trade unions and even wor$ingmen's political parties early in the period
!he corporate form thrived in an era of booming capital re:uirements, and older and
simpler forms of attracting investment capital were rendered obsolete Commerce became
increasingly speciali<ed, the division of labour in the disposal of goods for sale matching
the increasingly sophisticated division of labour that had come to characteri<e production
Edward +essen
!he management of the growing economy was inseparable from political conflict in the
emerging 5nited 3tates At the start the issue was between agrarians (represented by
0effersonian -epublicans) wanting a decentrali<ed system of easy credit and an investing
community loo$ing for stability and profit in financial mar$ets !his latter group,
championed by .amilton and the ;ederalists, won the first round with the establishment
of the first #an$ of the 5nited 3tates (17C1), 9ointly owned by the government and
private stoc$holders )t was the government's fiscal agent, and it put the centre of gravity
of the credit system in +hiladelphia, its head:uarters )ts charter e6pired in 1811, and the
financial chaos that hindered procurement and mobili<ation during the ensuing Aar of
181& demonstrated the importance of such centrali<ation .ence, even 0effersonian
-epublicans were converted to acceptance of a second #an$ of the 5nited 3tates,
chartered in 181%
!he second #an$ of the 5nited 3tates faced constant political fire, but the conflict now
was not merely between farming and mercantile interests but also between local ban$ers
who wanted access to the profits of an e6panding credit system and those who, li$e the
president of the #an$ of the 5nited 3tates, Nicholas #iddle, wanted more regularity and
predictability in ban$ing through top(down control !he Constitution gave the 5nited
3tates e6clusive power to coin money but allowed for the chartering of ban$s by
individual states, and these ban$s were permitted to issue notes that also served as
currency !he state ban$s, whose charters were often political plums, lac$ed coordinated
inspection and safeguards against ris$y loans usually collaterali<ed by land, whose value
fluctuated wildly, as did the value of the ban$notes 8verspeculation, ban$ruptcies,
contraction, and panics were the inevitable result
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&8&','A','%''','F*7')
Aood engraving relating to the financial setbac$ e6perienced on the 53 frontier
following the G
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&8&','A','%''','F*7')#iddle's hope was that the large
deposits of government funds in the #an$ of the 5nited 3tates would allow it to become
the ma9or lender to local ban$s, and from that position of strength it could s:uee<e the
unsound ones into either responsibility or e6tinction #ut this notion ran afoul of the
growing democratic spirit that insisted that the right to e6tend credit and choose its
recipients was too precious to be confined to a wealthy elite !his difference of views
produced the classic battle between #iddle and 0ac$son, culminating in #iddle's attempt
to win recharter for the #an$ of the 5nited 3tates, 0ac$son's veto and transfer of the
government funds to pet ban$s, and the +anic of 18F7 Not until the 18*'s did the federal
government place its funds in an independent treasury, and not until the Civil Aar was
there legislation creating a national ban$ing system !he country was strong enough to
survive, but the politici<ation of fiscal policy ma$ing continued to be a ma9or theme of
American economic history
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('1'1C1D','A','%''','&8D')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembl
y('D&*FF','A','F%D','*D''))mprovements in transportation, a $ey to the advance of
industriali<ation everywhere, were especially vital in the 5nited 3tates A fundamental
problem of the developing American economy was the great geographic e6tent of the
country and the appallingly poor state of its roads !he broad challenge to weave the
4reat Ha$es, "ississippi 2alley, and 4ulf and Atlantic coasts into a single national
mar$et was first met by putting steam to wor$ on the rich networ$ of navigable rivers As
early as 1787, 0ohn ;itch had demonstrated a wor$able steamboat to onloo$ers in
+hiladelphia= some years later, he repeated the feat in New /or$ City #ut it is
characteristic of American history that, in the absence of governmental encouragement,
private bac$ing was needed to bring an invention into full play As a result, popular credit
for the first steamboat goes to -obert ;ulton, who found the financing to ma$e his initial
.udson -iver run of the Clermont in 18'7 more than a onetime feat ;rom that point
forward, on inland waters, steam was $ing, and its most spectacular manifestation was the
"ississippi -iver paddle wheeler, a uni:ue creation of unsung marine engineers
challenged to ma$e a craft that could ?wor$@ in shallow swift(running waters !heir
solution was to put cargo, engines, and passengers on a flat open dec$ above the
waterline, which was possible in the mild climate of large parts of the drainage basin of
the ;ather of Aaters !he "ississippi -iver steamboat not only became an instantly
recogni<able American icon but also had an impact on the law )n the case of Gibbons v
Ogden (18&*), Chief 0ustice "arshall affirmed the e6clusive right of the federal
government to regulate traffic on rivers flowing between states
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('CD7&1','A','DD'','FC7')
#arge near the western end of the Erie Canal, New /or$, mid(18''s
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('CD7&1','A','DD'','FC7')Canals and railroads were not as
distinctively American in origin as the paddle wheeler, but, whereas 18th(century canals
in England and continental Europe were simple conveniences for moving bul$y loads
cheaply at low speed, Americans integrated the country's water transport system by
connecting rivers flowing toward the Atlantic 8cean with the 4reat Ha$es and the 8hio(
"ississippi -iver valleys !he best($nown conduit, the Erie Canal, connected the .udson
-iver to the 4reat Ha$es, lin$ing the Aest to the port of New /or$ City 8ther ma9or
canals in +ennsylvania, "aryland, and 8hio 9oined +hiladelphia and #altimore to the
Aest via the 8hio -iver and its tributaries Canal building was increasingly popular
throughout the 18&'s and 'F's, sometimes financed by states or by a combination of state
and private effort #ut many overbuilt or unwisely begun canal pro9ects collapsed, and
states that were ?burned@ in the process became more wary of such ventures
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&7D','A','DD'','&CC')
Early railroad scene, Hittle ;alls, N/
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington,
1C9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FD*&','A','F7&','*D'')
.enry Clay
3toc$ "ontageK.ulton ArchiveK4etty )mages
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11F&7D','A','DD'','&CC')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembl
y('11FD*&','A','F7&','*D'')Canal development was overta$en by the growth of the
railroads, which were far more efficient in covering the great distances underserved by
the road system and indispensable in the trans("ississippi Aest Aor$ on the #altimore
and 8hio line, the first railroad in the 5nited 3tates, was begun in 18&8, and a great burst
of construction boosted the country's rail networ$ from <ero to F',''' miles (D',''' $m)
by 18%' !he financing alone, no less than the operation of the burgeoning system, had a
huge political and economic impact Adams was a decided champion of ?national internal
improvements@>the federally assisted development of turnpi$es, lighthouses, and
dredging and channel(clearing operations (that is, whatever it too$ to assist commerce)
!hat term, however, was more closely associated with .enry Clay, li$e Adams a strong
nationalist Clay proposed an American 3ystem, which would, through internal
improvements and the imposition of tariffs, encourage the growth of an industrial sector
that e6changed manufactured goods for the products of 53 agriculture, thus benefiting
each section of the country #ut the passionate opposition of many agrarians to the costs
and e6panded federal control inherent in the program created one battlefield in the long
contest between the 1emocratic and Ahig parties that did not end until the triumph of
Ahig economic ideas in the -epublican party during the Civil Aar
Economic, social, and cultural history cannot easily be separated !he creation of the
?factory system@ in the 5nited 3tates was the outcome of interaction between several
characteristically American forcesE faith in the future, a generally welcoming attitude
toward immigrants, an abundance of resources lin$ed to a shortage of labour, and a
hospitable view of innovation !he pioneering te6tile industry, for e6ample, sprang from
an alliance of invention, investment, and philanthropy "oses #rown (later benefactor of
the College of -hode )sland, renamed #rown 5niversity in honour of his nephew
Nicholas) was loo$ing to invest some of his family's mercantile fortune in the te6tile
business New England wool and southern cotton were readily available, as was water
power from -hode )sland's swiftly flowing rivers All that was lac$ing to convert a
handcraft industry into one that was machine(based was machinery itself= however, the
new devices for spinning and weaving that were coming into use in England were
9ealously guarded there #ut 3amuel 3later, a young English mechanic who immigrated
to the 5nited 3tates in 17C' carrying the designs for the necessary machinery in his
prodigious memory, became aware of #rown's ambitions and of the problems he was
having with his machinery 3later formed a partnership with #rown and others to
reproduce the crucial e:uipment and build prosperous -hode )sland fabric factories
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('%'%%8','A','*1&','FD'')
8ne of the first 53 patents granted was to 8liver Evans in 17C' for his automatic
gristmill !he G
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington,
1C9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('%'%7D','A','&%F','FD'')
3$etch submitted to the +atent 8ffice by Eli Ahitney, showing the operation of the
cotton gin
National Archives, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('%'%%8','A','*1&','FD'')9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly
('%'%7D','A','&%F','FD'')Hocal American inventive talent embodied in sometimes self(
taught engineers was available too 8ne conspicuous e6ample was 1elaware's 8liver
Evans, who built a totally automatic flour mill in the 178's and later founded a factory
that produced steam engines= another was the ultimate Connecticut /an$ee, Eli Ahitney,
who not only fathered the cotton gin but built a factory for mass producing mus$ets by
fitting together interchangeable parts on an assembly line Ahitney got help from a
supportive 53 Army, which sustained him with advances on large procurement
contracts 3uch governmental support of industrial development was rare, but, when it
occurred, it was a crucial if often understated element in the industriali<ing of America
;rancis Cabot Howell, who opened a te6tile factory in 1811 in the "assachusetts town
later named for him, played a pathbrea$ing role as a paternalistic model employer
Ahereas 3later and #rown used local families, living at home, to provide ?hands@ for
their factories, Howell brought in young women from the countryside and put them up in
boardinghouses ad9acent to the mills !he ?girls@>most of them in or 9ust out of their
teens>were happy to be paid a few dollars for %'(hour wor$wee$s that were less ta6ing
than those they put in as farmers' daughters !heir moral behaviour was supervised by
matrons, and they themselves organi<ed religious, dramatic, musical, and study groups
!he idea was to create an American labour force that would not resemble the wretched
proletarians of England and elsewhere in Europe
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF8','A','DD'','*1D')
#oott Cotton "ills, Howell, "ass
Hibrary of Congress, Aashington, 1C
9avascriptEopen-elativeAssembly('11FDF8','A','DD'','*1D')Howell was marveled at by
foreign and domestic visitors ali$e but lost its idyllic character as competitive pressures
within the industry resulted in larger wor$loads, longer hours, and smaller wages Ahen,
in the 18*'s and 18D's, /an$ee young women formed embryonic unions and struc$, they
were replaced by ;rench(Canadian and )rish immigrants Nonetheless, early New
England industrialism carried the imprint of a conscious sense of American
e6ceptionalism
)n the decades before the American Civil Aar (18%1B%D), the civili<ation of the 5nited
3tates e6erted an irresistible pull on visitors, hundreds of whom were assigned to report
bac$ to European audiences that were fascinated by the new society and insatiable for
information on every facet of the ?fabled republic@ Ahat appeared to intrigue the
travelers above all was the uni:ueness of American society )n contrast to the relatively
static and well(ordered civili<ation of the 8ld Aorld, America seemed turbulent,
dynamic, and in constant flu6, its people crude but vital, awesomely ambitious,
optimistic, and independent "any well(bred Europeans were evidently ta$en abac$ by
the self(assurance of lightly educated American common fol$ 8rdinary Americans
seemed unwilling to defer to anyone on the basis of ran$ or status
,eorge -asington. /n te 0ac1 of a
National Spirit
+rimary 3ource 1ocument
At no time during the Revolution was there unity of ublic mind or urose in America.
!ven many of those who generally acceted indeendence were reluctant to give
wholehearted suort with ta"es or military service. General #ashington$s une%uivocal
devotion to the American cause made him unwilling& erhas unable& to accet anything
less from the ublic. 'e could not hel censuring the men whose sense of duty did not
e%ual his own and whose rivate interest normally came before the common cause. (n the
following letter of )ecember *+& ,--.& to /en0amin 'arrison& Sea1er of the 2irginia
'ouse of )elegates& #ashington e"ressed himself in no uncertain terms.
Jon $dams. !e &oundation of
,o%ernment
+rimary 3ource 1ocument
The rosect of indeendence meant more than fighting a war with /ritain. (t also
entailed the formation of new governments in America. (n 3anuary of ,--4& George
#ythe& of 2irginia& as1ed 3ohn Adams to draw u a lan that would enable the colonies
to ma1e this transition. Adams resonded with the following letter.
Jon $dams. !e Meaning of te
$merican Re%olution
+rimary 3ource 1ocument
3ohn Adams sent the following lucid essay to 'e5e1iah 6iles& editor of the Aee$ly
-egister, on February ,*& ,.,.& and 6iles raised it three wee1s later. 7Those who
delight to trace the early dawnings of the American Revolution&7 wrote 6iles in an
editorial note& 7. . . will be grateful for this tribute to the memory of the illustrious dead&
from the en of such a distinguished co8ad0utor and co8atriot& as 3ohn Adams.7 The
essay may have roduced more than gratitude9 it is thought that it insired 6iles to
collect and ublish his monumental +rinciples and Acts of the -evolution in America
:,.;;<& a leading source of our 1nowledge of the eriod.
!he American -evolution was not a common event )ts effects and conse:uences have
already been awful over a great part of the globe And when and where are they to ceaseR
#ut what do we mean by the American -evolutionR 1o we mean the American AarR !he
-evolution was effected before the Aar commenced !he -evolution was in the minds
and hearts of the people, a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and
obligations Ahile the $ing, and all in authority under him, were believed to govern in
9ustice and mercy according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the 4od of
nature, and transmitted to them by their ancestors, they thought themselves bound to pray
for the $ing and :ueen and all the royal family, and all in authority under them, as
ministers ordained of 4od for their good #ut when they saw those powers renouncing all
the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their
lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the Continental
Congress and all the thirteen state congresses, etc
!here might be, and there were, others who thought less about religion and conscience,
but had certain habitual sentiments of allegiance and loyalty derived from their education=
but believing allegiance and protection to be reciprocal, when protection was withdrawn,
they thought allegiance was dissolved
Another alteration was common to all !he people of America had been educated in a
habitual affection for England as their mother country= and while they thought her a $ind
and tender parent (erroneously enough, however, for she never was such a mother) no
affection could be more sincere #ut when they found her a cruel beldam, willing, li$e
Hady "acbeth, to Sdash their brains out,S it is no wonder if their filial affections ceased
and were changed into indignation and horror
!omas Jefferson. 2ebate on
3ndependence
+rimary 3ource 1ocument
)uring the debate on R.'. =ee$s resolution for indeendence in 3une ,--4& many of the
old arguments for and against indeendence were restated. Thomas 3efferson recorded
the views of both sides in notes that he made during the roceedings of the Continental
Congress. These notes were later included in 3efferson$s Autobiography
Friday& 3une -& ,--4. !he delegates from 2irginia moved, in obedience to instructions
from their constituents, that the Congress should declare that these 5nited Colonies are
and of right ought to be free and independent states= that they are absolved from all
allegiance to the #ritish Crown, and that all political connection between them and the
state of 4reat #ritain is and ought to be totally dissolved= that measures should be
immediately ta$en for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a confederation be
formed to bind the colonies more closely together
!he .ouse being obliged to attend at that time to some other business, the proposition
was referred to the ne6t day, when the members were ordered to attend punctually at 1'
o'cloc$
Saturday& 3une .. !hey proceeded to ta$e it into consideration and referred it to a
committee of the whole, into which they immediately resolved themselves, and passed
that day and "onday, the 1'th, in debating on the sub9ect
!e Basis of te $merican Republic
S A constitution intended to endure for ages to come, and conse:uently,
to be adapted to the various crises of human affairsS
08.N "A-3.AHH, Chief 0ustice of the 3upreme Court, McCulloch v.
Maryland, 181C
!he Constitution of the 5nited 3tates is the central instrument of American government
and the supreme law of the land ;or &'' years, it has guided the evolution of
governmental institutions and has provided the basis for political stability, individual
freedom, economic growth and social progress
!he American Constitution is the world's oldest written constitution in force, one that has
served as the model for a number of other constitutions around the world !he
Constitution owes its staying power to its simplicity and fle6ibility 8riginally designed
to provide a framewor$ for governing four million people in 1F very different colonies
along the Atlantic coast, its basic provisions were so soundly conceived that, with only &%
amendments, it now serves the needs of more than &*' million people in D' even more
diverse states that stretch from the Atlantic to the +acific 8cean
!he path to the Constitution was neither straight nor easy A draft document emerged in
1787, but only after intense debate and si6 years of e6perience with an earlier federal
union !he 1F #ritish colonies, strung out along the eastern seaboard of what is now the
5nited 3tates, declared their independence from England in 177% A year before, war had
bro$en out between the colonies and 4reat #ritain, a war for independence that lasted for
si6 bitter years Ahile still at war, the colonies (( now calling themselves the 5nited
3tates of America (( drafted a compact which bound them together as a nation !he
compact, designated the SArticles of Confederation and +erpetual 5nion,S was adopted
by a Congress of the states in 1777, and formally signed in 0uly 1778 !he Articles
became binding when they were ratified by the 1Fth state, "aryland, in "arch 1781
!he Articles of Confederation devised a loose association among the states, and set up a
federal government with very limited powers )n such critical matters as defense, public
finance and trade, the federal government was at the mercy of the state legislatures )t
was not an arrangement conducive to stability or strength Aithin a short time (( less than
si6 years (( the wea$ness of the Confederation was apparent to all +olitically and
economically, the new nation was close to chaos )n the words of 4eorge Aashington,
the 1F states were united only Sby a rope of sandS
)t was under these inauspicious circumstances that the Constitution of the 5nited 3tates
was drawn up )n ;ebruary 1787, the Continental Congress, the legislative body of the
republic, issued a call for the states to send delegates to +hiladelphia to revise the
Articles !he Constitutional, or ;ederal, Convention convened on "ay &D, 1787, in
)ndependence .all, where the 1eclaration of )ndependence had been adopted 11 years
earlier on 0uly *, 177% Although the delegates had been authori<ed only to amend the
Articles of Confederation, they pushed the Articles aside and proceeded to construct a
charter for a wholly new, more centrali<ed form of government !he new document, the
Constitution, was completed 3eptember 17, 1787, and was officially adopted "arch *,
178C
!he DD delegates who drafted the Constitution included most of the outstanding leaders,
or ;ounding ;athers, of the new nation !hey represented a wide range of interests,
bac$grounds and stations in life All agreed, however, on the central ob9ectives e6pressed
in the preamble to the ConstitutionE
Ae the people of the 5nited 3tates, in order to form a more perfect union,
establish 9ustice, insure domestic tran:uility, provide for the common
defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to
ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for
the 5nited 3tates of America
!he primary aim of the Constitution was to create a strong elected government, directly
responsive to the will of the people !he concept of self(government did not originate
with the Americans= indeed, a measure of self(government e6isted in England at the time
#ut the degree to which the Constitution committed the 5nited 3tates to rule by the
people was uni:ue, and even revolutionary, in comparison with other governments
around the world
!he Constitution departed sharply from the Articles of Confederation in that it
established a strong central, or federal, government with broad powers to regulate
relations between the states, and with sole responsibility in such areas as foreign affairs
and defense
Centrali<ation proved difficult for many people to accept America had been settled in
large part by Europeans who had left their homelands to escape religious or political
oppression, as well as the rigid economic patterns of the 8ld Aorld, which loc$ed
individuals into a particular station in life regardless of their s$ill or energy +ersonal
freedom was highly pri<ed by these settlers and they were wary of any power ((
especially that of government (( which might curtail individual liberties !he fear of a
strong central authority ran so deep that -hode )sland refused to send delegates to
+hiladelphia in the belief that a strong national government might be a threat to the
ability of its citi<ens to govern their own lives
!he great diversity of the new nation was also a formidable obstacle to unity !he people
who were empowered by the Constitution to elect and control their central government
were of widely differing origins, beliefs and interests "ost had come from England, but
3weden, Norway, ;rance, .olland, +russia, +oland and many other countries also sent
immigrants to the New Aorld !heir religious beliefs were varied and in most cases
strongly held !here were Anglicans, -oman Catholics, Calvinists, .uguenots,
Hutherans, Iua$ers, 0ews, agnostics and atheists Economically and socially, the
Americans ranged from the landed aristocracy to slaves from Africa and indentured
servants wor$ing off debts #ut the bac$bone of the country was the middle class ((
farmers, tradesmen, mechanics, sailors, shipwrights, weavers, carpenters and a host of
others
Americans then, as now, had widely differing opinions on virtually all issues, up to and
including the wisdom of brea$ing free of the #ritish Crown 1uring the -evolution, a
large number of #ritish loyalists (( $nown as !ories (( fled the country, settling mostly in
eastern Canada !hose who stayed behind formed a substantial opposition bloc, although
they differed among themselves on the reasons for opposing the -evolution and on what
accommodation should be made with the new American republic
)n the past two centuries, the diversity of the American people has increased, and yet the
essential unity of the nation has grown stronger ;rom the original 1F states along the
Atlantic seaboard, America spread westward across the entire continent !oday it
encompasses D' states, the most recent additions being Alas$a and .awaii in 1CDC
!hroughout the 1Cth century and on into the &'th, an endless stream of immigrants
contributed their s$ills and their cultural heritages to the growing nation +ioneers crossed
the Appalachian "ountains in the east, settled the "ississippi 2alley and the 4reat +lains
in the center of the continent, then crossed the -oc$y "ountains and reached the shores
of the +acific 8cean (( *,D'' $ilometers west of the Atlantic coastal areas settled by the
first colonists And as the nation e6panded, its vast storehouse of natural resources
became apparent to allE great stands of virgin timber, huge deposits of coal, copper, iron
and oil, abundant water power and fertile soil
!he wealth of the new nation generated its own $ind of diversity 3pecial regional and
commercial interest groups sprang up East coast shipowners advocated free trade
"idwest manufacturers argued for import duties to protect their positions in the growing
53 mar$et ;armers wanted low freight rates and high commodity prices= millers and
ba$ers sought low grain prices= railroad operators wanted the highest freight rates they
could get New /or$ ban$ers, southern cotton growers, !e6as cattle ranchers and 8regon
lumbermen all had different views on the economy and the government's role in
regulating it
)t was the continuing 9ob of the Constitution and the government it had created to draw
all these disparate interests together, to create a common ground and, at the same time, to
protect the fundamental rights of all the people !he ;ounding ;athers had little precedent
to guide them when they drafted the Constitution !he Articles of Confederation had also
set up a federal government, but its powers were so limited that the states were united in
name only Although the people's e6perience with federalism was limited, their e6pertise
in the art of self(government was considerable Hong before independence was declared,
the colonies were functioning governmental units, controlled by the people And after the
revolution had begun (( between 0anuary 1, 177%, and April &', 1777 (( 1' of the 1F
states had adopted their own constitutions "ost states had a governor elected by the state
legislature !he legislature itself was elected by popular vote
Compared with the comple6ities of contemporary government, the problems of
governing four million people in much less developed economic conditions seem small
indeed #ut the authors of the Constitution were building for the future as well as the
present !hey were $eenly aware of the need for a structure of government that would
wor$ not only in their lifetime, but for generations to come .ence, they included in the
Constitution a provision for amending the document when social, economic or political
conditions demanded it !wenty(si6 amendments have been passed since ratification, and
the fle6ibility of the Constitution has proven to be one of its greatest strengths Aithout
such fle6ibility, it is inconceivable that a document drafted more than &'' years ago
could effectively serve the needs of &*' million people, and thousands upon thousands of
governmental units at all levels in the 5nited 3tates today Nor could it have applied with
e:ual force and precision to the problems of small towns and great cities
!he Constitution and the federal government thus stand at the pea$ of a governmental
pyramid which includes local and state 9urisdictions )n the 53 system, each level of
government has a large degree of autonomy with certain powers reserved particularly to
itself 1isputes between different 9urisdictions are resolved by the courts .owever, there
are :uestions involving the national interest which re:uire the cooperation of all levels of
government simultaneously, and the Constitution ma$es provision for this as well
American public schools are largely administered by local 9urisdictions, adhering to
statewide standards #ut the federal government also aids the schools, since literacy and
educational attainment is a matter of vital national interest, and it enforces uniform
standards designed to further e:ual educational opportunity )n other areas, such as
housing, health and welfare, there is a similar partnership between the various levels of
government
No product of human society is perfect 1espite its many amendments, the Constitution
of the 5nited 3tates probably still contains flaws which will become evident in future
periods of stress #ut two centuries of growth and unrivaled prosperity have proven the
foresight of the DD men who wor$ed through the summer of 1787 to lay the foundation of
American government
Penn's Plan for a "nion '+*(
A brief and plain scheme how the English colonies in the North parts of America,((vi<,
#oston, Connecticut, -hode )sland, New /or$, New 0erseys, +ennsylvania, "aryland,
2irginia, and Carolina,((may be made more useful to the crown and one another's peace
and safety with an universal concurrence
1 !hat the several colonies before mentioned do meet once a year, and oftener if
need be during the war, and at least once in two years in times of peace, by their
stated and appointed deputies, to debate and resolve of such measures as are most
advisable for their better understanding and the public tran:uility and safety
& !hat, in order to it, two persons, well :ualified for sense, sobriety, and substance,
be appointed by each province as their representatives or deputies, which in the
whole ma$e the congress to consist of twenty persons
F !hat the $ing's commissioner, for that purpose specially appointed, shall have the
chair and preside in the said congress
* !hat they shall meet as near as conveniently may be to the most central colony for
ease of the deputies
D 3ince that may in all probability be New /or$, both because it is near the center
of the colonies and for that it is a frontier and in the $ing's nomination, the
governor of that colony may therefore also be the $ing's high commissioner
during the session, after the manner of 3cotland
% !hat their business shall be to hear and ad9ust all matters of complaint or
difference between province and province As, 1st, where persons :uit their own
province and go to another, that they may avoid their 9ust debts, though they be
able to pay them= &nd, where offenders fly 9ustice, or 9ustice cannot well be had
upon such offenders in the provinces that entertain them= Frd, to prevent or cure
in9uries in point of commerce= *th, to consider the ways and means to support the
union and safety of these provinces against the public enemies )n which congress
the :uotas of men and charges will be much easier and more e:ually set than it is
possible for any establishment made here to do= for the provinces, $nowing their
own condition and one another's, can debate that matter with more freedom and
satisfaction, and better ad9ust and balance their affairs in all respects for their
common safety
7 !hat, in times of war, the $ing's high commissioner shall be general or chief
commander of the several :uotas upon service against the common enemy, as he
shall be advised, for the good and benefit of the whole
4ing -illiam $ddresses Parliament on
te &renc 5uestion 6' 2ecember '(7'
3ntroduction
Ming Ailliam of .olland and his wife "ary, daughter of Ming 0ames )) of England,
mounted the English throne at the invitation of +arliament after 0ames )) fled to ;rance in
1%88
Ailliam ))) was a firm opponent of ;rench e6pansion in Europe, either by the ac:uisition
of territory or the development of overpowering political coalitions .e viewed with
alarm a move by Houis N)2 to install a Catholic pretender to the English throne=
moreover, Ailliam saw the maneuver of Houis to gain control of the 3panish throne as a
giant step toward ;rench domination of Europe and America and thus the world ( which
was, in fact, the ob9ective of the ;rench sovereign
"y Hords and 4entlemen= ) promise myself you are met together full of that 9ust sense of
the common danger of Europe, and the resentment of the late proceedings of the ;rench
$ing, which has been so fully and universally e6pressed in the loyal and seasonable
Addresses of my people !he owning and setting up the pretended +rince of Aales for
$ing of England, is not only the highest indignity offered to me and the nation, but does
so nearly concern every man, who has a regard for the +rotestant -eligion, or the present
and future :uiet and happiness of his country, that ) need not press you to lay it seriously
to heart, and to consider what further effectual means may be used, for securing the
3uccession of the Crown in the +rotestant line, and e6tinguishing the hopes of all
+retenders, and their open and secret abettors #y the ;rench $ing's placing his 4randson
on the throne of 3pain, he is in a condition to oppress the rest of Europe, unless speedy
and effectual measures be ta$en 5nder this pretence, he is become the real "aster of the
whole 3panish "onarchy= he has made it to be intirely depending on ;rance, and
disposes of it, as of his own dominions, and by that means he has surrounded his
neighbours in such a manner, that, though the name of peace may be said to continue, yet
they are put to the e6pence and inconveniencies of war !his must affect England in the
nearest and most sensible manner, in respect to our trade, which will soon become
precarious in all the variable branches of it= in respect to our peace and safety at home,
which we cannot hope should long continue= and in respect to that part, which England
ought to ta$e in the preservation of the liberty of Europe
)n order to obviate the general calamity, with which the rest of Christendom is threatened
by this e6orbitant power of ;rance, ) have concluded several Alliances, according to the
encouragement given me by both houses of +arliament, which ) will direct shall be laid
before you, and which, ) doubt not, you will enable me to ma$e good !here are some
other !reaties still depending, that shall be li$ewise communicated to you as soon as they
are perfected )t is fit ) should tell you, the eyes of all Europe are upon this +arliament= all
matters are at a stand, till your resolutions are $nown= and therefore no time ought to be
lost /ou have yet an opportunity, by 4od's blessing, to secure to you and your posterity
the :uiet en9oyment of your -eligion and Hiberties, if you are not wanting to yourselves,
but will e6ert the ancient vigour of the English nation= but ) tell you plainly, my opinion
is, if you do not lay hold on this occasion, you have no reason to hope for another )n
order to do your part, it will be necessary to have a great strength at sea, and to provide
for the security of our ships in harbour= and also that there be such a force at land, as is
e6pected in proportion to the forces of our Allies
4entlemen of the .ouse of Commons= ) do recommend these matters to you with that
concern and earnestness, which their importance re:uires At the same time ) cannot but
press you to ta$e care of the public credit, which cannot be preserved but by $eeping
sacred that ma6im, that they shall never be losers, who trust to a +arliamentary security
)t is always with regret, when ) do as$ aids of my people= but you will observe, that )
desire nothing, which relates to any personal e6pence of mine= ) am only pressing you to
do all you can for your own safety and honour, at so critical and dangerous a time= and
am willing, that what is given, should be wholly appropriated to the purposes for which it
is intended
) should thin$ it as great a blessing as could befall England, if ) could observe you as
much inclined to lay aside those unhappy fatal animosities, which divide and wea$en
you, as ) am disposed to ma$e all my sub9ects safe and easy as to any, even the highest
offences, committed against me Het me con9ure you to disappoint the only hopes of our
enemies by your unanimity ) have shewn, and will always shew, how desirous ) am to be
the common father of all my people 1o you, in li$e manner, lay aside parties and
divisions Het there be no other distinction heard of amongst us for the future, but of
those, who are for the +rotestant -eligion, and the present establishment, and of those,
who mean a +opish +rince, and a ;rench government ) will only add this= if you do in
good earnest desire to see England hold the balance of Europe, and to be indeed at the
head of the +rotestant interest, it will appear by your right improving the present
opportunity
$lbany Plan for a "nion '(89
)t is proposed that humble application be made for an act of +arliament of 4reat #ritain,
by virtue of which one general government may be formed in America, including all the
said colonies, within and under which government each colony may retain its present
constitution, e6cept in the particulars wherein a change may be directed by the said act,
as hereafter follows
8 !hat the said general government be administered by a +resident(4eneral, to be
appointed and supported by the crown= and a 4rand Council, to be chosen by the
representatives of the people of the several Colonies met in their respective
assemblies
C !hat within TTT months after the passing such act, the .ouse of -epresentatives
that happen to be sitting within that time, or that shall be especially for that
purpose convened, may and shall choose members for the 4rand Council, in the
following proportion, that is to say,
"assachusetts #ay 7
New .ampshire &
Connecticus D
-hode )sland &
New /or$ *
New 0ersey F
+ennsylvania %
"aryland *
2irginia 7
North Carolina *
3outh Carolina *
*
8
1' (((((who shall meet for the first time at the city of +hiladelphia, being called by
the +resident(4eneral as soon as conveniently may be after his appointment
11 !hat there shall be a new election of the members of the 4rand Council every
three years= and, on the death or resignation of any member, his place should be
supplied by a new choice at the ne6t sitting of the Assembly of the Colony he
represented
1& !hat after the first three years, when the proportion of money arising out of each
Colony to the general treasury can be $nown, the number of members to be
chosen for each Colony shall, from time to time, in all ensuing elections, be
regulated by that proportion, yet so as that the number to be chosen by any one
+rovince be not more than seven, nor less than two
1F !hat the 4rand Council shall meet once in every year, and oftener if occasion
re:uire, at such time and place as they shall ad9ourn to at the last preceding
meeting, or as they shall be called to meet at by the +resident(4eneral on any
emergency= he having first obtained in writing the consent of seven of the
members to such call, and sent duly and timely notice to the whole
1* !hat the 4rand Council have power to choose their spea$er= and shall neither be
dissolved, prorogued, nor continued sitting longer than si6 wee$s at one time,
without their own consent or the special command of the crown
1D !hat the members of the 4rand Council shall be allowed for their service ten
shillings sterling per diem, during their session and 9ourney to and from the place
of meeting= twenty miles to be rec$oned a day's 9ourney
1% !hat the assent of the +resident(4eneral be re:uisite to all acts of the 4rand
Council, and that it be his office and duty to cause them to be carried into
e6ecution
17 !hat the +resident(4eneral, with the advice of the 4rand Council, hold or direct
all )ndian treaties, in which the general interest of the Colonies may be concerned=
and ma$e peace or declare war with )ndian nations
18 !hat they ma$e such laws as they 9udge necessary for regulating all )ndian trde
1C !hat they ma$e all purchases from )ndians, for the crown, of lands not now within
the bounds of particular Colonies, or that shall not be within their bounds when
some of them are reduced to more convenient dimensions
&' !hat they ma$e new settlements on such purchases, by granting lands in the
Ming's name, reserving a :uitrent to the crown for the use of the general treasury
&1 !hat they ma$e laws for regulating and governing such new settlements, till the
crown shall thin$ fit to form them into particular governments
&& !hat they raise and pay soldiers and build forts for the defence of any of the
Colonies, and e:uip vessels of force to guard the coasts and protect the trade on
the ocean, la$es, or great rivers= but they shall not impress men in any Colony,
without the consent of the Hegislature
&F !hat for these purposes they have power to ma$e laws, and lay and levy such
general duties, imposts, or ta6es, as to them shall appear most e:ual and 9ust
(considering the ability and other circumstances of the inhabitants in the several
Colonies), and such as may be collected with the least inconvenience to the
people= rather discouraging lu6ury, than loading industry with unnecessary
burdens
&* !hat they may appoint a 4eneral !reasurer and +articular !reasurer in each
government when necessary= and, from time to time, may order the sums in the
treasuries of each government into the general treasury= or draw on them for
special payments, as they find most convenient
&D /et no money to issue but by 9oint orders of the +resident(4eneral and 4rand
Council= e6cept where sums have been appropriated to particular purposes, and
the +resident(4eneral is previously empowered by an act to draw such sums
&% !hat the general accounts shall be yearly settled and reported to the several
Assemblies
&7 !hat a :uorum of the 4rand Council, empowered to act with the +resident(
4eneral, do consist of twenty(five members= among whom there shall be one or
more from a ma9ority of the Colonies
&8 !hat the laws made by them for the purposes aforesaid shall not be repugnant,
but, as near as may be, agreeable to the laws of England, and shall be transmitted
to the Ming in Council for approbation, as soon as may be after their passing= and
if not disapproved within three years after presentation, to remain in force
&C !hat, in case of the death of the +resident(4eneral, the 3pea$er of the 4rand
Council for the time being shall succeed, and be vested with the same powers and
authorities, to continue till the Ming's pleasure be $nown
F' !hat all military commission officers, whether for land or sea service, to act under
this general constitution, shall be nominated by the +resident(4eneral= but the
approbation of the 4rand Council is to be obtained, before they receive their
commissions And all civil officers are to be nominated by the 4rand Council,
and to receive the +resident(4eneral's approbation before they officiate
F1 #ut, in case of vacancy by death or removal of any officer, civil or military, under
this constitution, the 4overnor of the +rovince in which such vacancy happens
may appoint, till the pleasure of the +resident(4eneral and 4rand Council can be
$nown
F& !hat the particular military as well as civil establishments in each Colony remain
in their present state, the general constitution notwithstanding= and that on sudden
emergencies any Colony may defend itself, and lay the accounts of e6pense
thence arising before the +resident(4eneral and 4eneral Council, who may allow
and order payment of the same, as far as they 9udge such accounts 9ust and
reasonable
Conclusions
)t is when one e6amines the period in which the progressive historians wrote that the
most sense is made of their wor$ .istoriography is nought if it is not a reflection of the
times that spawned it 0ust as the +rogressives were involved in a movement to improve
the lot of the common man in a time of technological change, so did the progressive
historians see the fighters of the -evolution as fighters for the lot of the common man
And in 9ust the same way, as the new country was first forging its nationalistic unity, did
4eorge #ancroft see the war as a virtuous, nationalistic struggle And li$ewise did
Charles #eard, the erstwhile firebrand, see the Constitution in a different light in 1C**,
when democratic governments were only 9ust beginning to win the first round in a deadly
fight for their lives, than he did in 1C1F, the last year in which Civili<ation was spelled
with a capital SCS Could #eard have seen the war and its resulting constitution in any
other light than the light in which the horrors of Aorld Aar ) were viewed in the 1C&'s
and 1CF's, that economic Sspecial interestsS held all the cards and manipulated the rest of
us li$e so many puppets, ma$ing us fight and slaughter one another on a whim designed
to ma$e them still more moneyR
.istorical literature is a reflection of the contemporary events of its writers Ahen one
strips away the influence of the times that colored the views of the writers discussed in
this essay, one must conclude by loo$ing at the results that the war was one for
independence, not a true revolution
2oltaire was right on target when he said that there are truths that are not for all men, nor
for all times
!he American -evolution started in 177D, clima6ed in 177%, and, at least partially, ended
in 178C when the Constitution was ratified #ut was it really a revolutionR Ahat criteria
must the new government possess to be considered a revolutionary regimeR Ahat $ind of
ideologies do the revolutionaries believe in and how do these differ from the old regime's
ideologies and form of ruleR .ow violent must the revolution beR .ow much of a social
impact should there beR All of these :uestions can be answered differently depending on
what constitutes one's definition of a revolution ;or the purposes of this study, it will be
assumed that the American -evolution was a real -evolution !he different theories of
what is a revolution will be discussed with the intention of disproving the assumption that
the American -evolution was a true -evolution !he conclusion will be an answer to the
:uestionE was the American Revolution a real revolution>
Bac1ground: History: $nd !e Beginning
/f !e Re%olution
!he thirteen colonies that became the 53A were originally colonies of 4reat #ritain #y
the time the American -evolution too$ place, the citi<ens of these colonies were
beginning to get tired of the #ritish rule -ebellion and discontent were rampant ;or
those people who see the change in the American government and society a real
-evolution, the -evolution is essentially an economic one !he main reason the colonies
started rebelling against 'mother England' was the ta6ation issue !he colonies debated
England's legal power to ta6 them and, furthermore, did not wish to be ta6ed without
representation !his was one of the main causes of the -evolutionary Aar !he -evenue
Act of 17%* made the constitutional issue of whether or not the Ming had the right to ta6
the thirteen colonies an issue, and this eventually 7became an entering wedge in the great
disute that was finally to wrest the American colonies from !ngland7 (8lsen, %) )t was
the phrase 'ta6ation without representation' Sthat was to draw many to the cause of the
American patriots against the mother countryS (%)
!he reaction against ta6ation was often violent and the most powerful and articulate
groups in the population rose against the ta6ation (%) 7Resolutions denouncing ta"ation
without reresentation as a threat to colonial liberties7 were passed (%) )n 8ctober of
17%D, colonial representatives met on their own initiative for the first time and decided to
Smobili<e colonial opinion against parliamentary interference in American affairsS (%)
;rom this point on, events began to reach the point of no return for the colonies )n
1ecember 177F, the #oston !ea +arty occurred as a reaction to the hated !ea Act of
earlier that year )n 177*, the ;irst Continental Congress met and formed an 'Association,'
which ended up assuming leadership and spurred new local organi<ations to end royal
authority (8lsen, C) #ecause of the influence of these Associations, many people 9oined
the movement, and collection of supplies and mobili<ation of troops began to ta$e place
!he leadership of the Association was able to fan 7ublic oinion into revolutionary
ardor7 (C)
.owever, not everyone favored the revolutionary movement= this was especially true in
areas of mi6ed ethnic cultures and in those that were untouched by the war !he citi<ens
of the middle colonies were especially unenthusiastic about the revolution (Aard, 78)
Among those who did support a change in the government structure, not everyone who
9oined the movement favored violence Iua$ers and members of other religions, as well
as many merchants from the middle colonies, and some discontented farmers and
frontiersmen from southern colonies opposed the use of violence, and instead favored
7discussion and comromise as the roer solution7 (8lsen, C) !he patriots were able to
gain a great deal of support for a violent -evolution from the less well(to(do, from many
of the professional class, especially lawyers, some of the great planters and a number of
merchants (C) 3upport for the -evolution increased when it became clear that Ming
7George ((( had no intention of ma1ing concessions7 (C) #y the ;all of 177*, the
American people Shad in place the mechanisms of revolutionary organi<ation on the local
and colony level A Congress of the colonies would coordinate and control the
revolutionary movementS (Aard, DF) !he -evolutionary Aar erupted on April 1C, 177D
(%') !he reason the #ritish and the Americans resorted to using arms after a decade of
fighting verbally and ideologically over the rights of the #ritish sub9ects in the colonies,
was because both sides had finally 7become convinced that force alone could decide the
issues that divided the emire7 ("iller, 1%7) )n April 177D, the battle of He6ington
occurred, closely followed by the battle of Concord !he shot at He6ington mar$ed the
first blood spilled in the war of the American independence (Aard, F) 7The American
Revolution now had its martyrs7 (*'C) !hese two very important instances of bloodshed
served to evo$e the spirit of American patriotism all over the colonies (8lsen, 1') !he
3econd Continental Congress met on "ay 1', 177D and 4eorge Aashington was elected
commander of the patriotic forces .e and his army fought for the defense of American
liberty and conse:uently led America to independence (Aard, %1(%&) !he #ritish
re9ection of the 8live #ranch +etition, which e6pressed a 7general desire for the
restoration of harmony between /ritain and her colonies7 (!homas, &*8), issued in the
summer of 177D, 7stiffened the atriots$ resolve towards indeendence7 (#"+H, *1)
Another strong arguments for independence revolved around the issue of not becoming
li$e the rotten "other England Americans believed that 7the longer they remained
within the /ritish !mire& the greater was the danger of contamination7 ("iller, *&7) #y
early 177%, Americans were ready to denounce any allegiance to the #ritish crown
(Aard, %F) )n 0anuary of that same year, !homas +aine published Common 3ense, a
brochure that strongly served to rally Americans to independence +aine's writing
convinced many of his countrymen to disown the monarchy and replace it with a republic
(7%(77) 7As long as Americans deluded themselves with the hoe that they could be free
and yet remain /ritish sub0ects& ?aine believed that the cause of liberty was doomed7
("iller, *%F) #y this time, the movement toward revolution was rapidly gaining speed
#y spring of that same year, all royal governors had been ousted and patriots replaced
#ritish authority in the colonies by ma$eshift governments !he Congress itself e6ercised
sovereign powers (Aard, 7C) )n 0uly 177%, Congress met and adop( ted the 1eclaration
of )ndependence from #ritain !he Articles of Confederation was the first document
uniting the citi<ens of all thirteen colonies into one country 5nder the Articles, the
central government was very wea$ and the states held most power, but it was a
beginning As a result of 3hay's -ebellion, the Articles were disowned and the ;ederal
Constitution was written in 1787 )t is still the basic law of the 5nited 3tates of America
Summary;
"any revolutions begin with the outbrea$ of violence, which is often a response to
heightened repression or other e6traordinary demands from government against their
people !he American -evolution is an obvious e6ample of this (-ule, 1%') !he
violence too$ the form of the -evolutionary Aar and Congress became the leadership
American -evolution was the first anti(colonial, democratic revolution in history
Americans insisted on representation and when the #ritish denied it, they fought their
coloni<ers Americans won and set up their own government, a republic !hus, what was
initially underta$en to secure for #ritish Americans guarantees of local autonomy and
individual rights e:uivalent to those en9oyed by Englishmen in the home islands,
:uic$ly became in 177D(7% a struggle for political independence (4reene, 1)
"uch of the revolutionary cause came from the Scolonial challenge to +arliament's power
of legislation S (!homas, FFF) !his was the beginning of the -evolution 3ince the
patriots' demands could not be met, the country proclaimed itself independent from
'mother England' and the 5nited 3tates of America were born
<iolence 3n !e Re%olution
8ne of the more important facets of a revolution is violence )n this respect the American
-evolution truly fits the description of a real -evolution !he most serious effect 7of the
colonies was the number and the force of the influences which were imelling large
classes to violence...& ...accustoming them to an unrestrained e"ercise of ower and
brea1ing down among them salutary resect for authority7 (Hec$y, &8F) Ahile some
scholars, especially English historians, may see this as an evil outcome of the -evolution,
the violence and its conse:uences were an important part of the -evolutionary
e6perience )t is from this violent uproar that the 5nited 3tates of America was born
Uprevious ( ne6tV
$ 2emocratic Re%olution
At the end of the -evolutionary Aar, in the 178's, some people, most notably the !ories,
wanted power to remain in the hands of the aristocracy= they believed that all men meant
all gentlemen "any !ories feared that 7the Revolution would lead to a democratic
uheaval7 and these fears were not 7without foundation7 ("iller, D'') 3ome Americans
certainly Sregarded the principles of the 1eclaration of )ndependence as presaging a new
social and political orderS (D'') !he democratic features of the -evolution included a
call for 'no ta6ation without representation' at home, denouncing certain titles such as '.is
E6cellency,' resentment against profiteers, demands for 7all institutions to be sub0ected to
the test of reason7 (D'1) and other aspects
8ne of the democratic features of the new country was the almost e:ual pay provided to
the soldiers !his egalitarianism was defended by the New Englanders and attac$ed by
the 3outherners !he best e6ample of democracy was the violent upheaval that swept
away the Iua$er oligarchy in +ennsylvania (D'F) !he final draft of the Constitution is a
great e6ample of democracy all in itself )t made America safe for democracy After the
+eace of +aris, Americans finally put away their arms and 7vigorously sought to aly
the ideals for which they had fought to conditions at home7 (D'D)
!eoretical 3nterpretation /f !e
$merican Re%olution
A summary of the theories of revolution points to the conclusion that the American
-evolution was a real revolution !he fact that scholars discuss it as part of a more
general overview of revolutions is proof that they consider it to be a -evolution "any
people (both the educated and the uneducated) un:uestioningly accept the fact that the
American -evolution was a revolution !his paper has shown that these claims and the
original assumption proved to be correct !he theories dealing with revolutions as the
phenomenon helped prove that these assumptions are legitimate A e6planation of a
revolution could be a comple6 one li$e Crane #rinton's, which traces a revolution
through several stages, as well as entailing details of the pre( and post(revolutionary
society A definition could be as simple as 4ottschal$'s, which states that a revolution
need not 7be more than ...a oular movement whereby a significant change in the
structure of a nation or society is effected$7 (+aynton and #lac$ey, &7) 3ome analysts
may not see the American -evolution as a revolution because it does not fit their narrow
model !heda 3$ocpol's discussion centers around social revolutions, li$e the one that
occurred in -ussia, and thus has no place for the American e6perience ;or sociologist
3eymour "artin Hipset, the main aspect of the American -evolution that made it
revolutionary is the ideas, values, and the beliefs that appeared after the event !hese
were revolutionary in their conte6t alone, and were integrated into the American way of
life ;or many scholars the main aspect of a revolution is social change (&7), an element
that was obviously present in America in 177% and later in 178F !he American
-evolution was a true revolution
Conclusion
!he American -evolution was unli$e any others in the history of revolutions )t
7occurred in the emire distinguished above all others in the eighteenth century by the
large measure of olitical& religious& and economic freedom it allowed its colonies
overseas7 ("iller, 6iii) !hus, Ameri( cans, unli$e other revolutionary people, had
already e6perienced some forms of freedom An important reason for the -evolution was
the desire for even more than they already had 7=i1e all revolutions& the American one
started with small& relatively unimortant demands that grew& during and after the
conflict& far beyond the vision of the original articiants7 ( Hipset, &&) Aould the
American colonies not rebelled had they not been ta6ed without representationR 8r would
they have found another issue of discontentR 3ome historians view the American
revolutionaries as clearly intending 7to ma1e a brea1 with @theirA !uroean ast7 ("iller,
6vii) !hese scholars believe the American -evolution was staged against Europe (
against monarchy, imperialistic wars, feudalism, colonialism, mercantilism, established
churches, the oppression of the many by the few )n this sense the 5nited 3tates declared
itself independent in 177% not only of 4reat #ritain but of Europe (6vii)
7...The revolutionary generation wanted benefits& not 0ust rotection&7 (#anning, 1'D)
from the #ritish Crown 3ome argue that 7searation...was the act of the /ritish
?arliament itself& which had thrown the thirteen colonies out of the rotection of the
Crown7 (Hec$y, &F7) .ad it not been for ta6ation, more grievances are apt to have
arisen !he American -evolution was inevitable
)n many respects, the American -evolution was the first of its $ind 53A is one of the
very few states in the world that underwent only one revolution )t is also among the
small minority of the states, whose revolution, ideologies, and the regime established
under it, lasted !here may be many theories of what constitutes a revolution but the
simplest one is the definition of revolution 7#hile some elements in the definition of
revolution have a degree of commonness& still no single one is to be found common to
all7 (+aynton and #lac$ey, &%) .owever, a sudden change in the government structure
signifies a revolution And the government that ensued in the late 17''s was very
different from its -oyal English predecessor !he people of America and the people of
4reat #ritain view authority, and thus, government, in distinct terms !his is due to the
varied e6periences and points of view of the American and the English people towards
their government
)n contrast to the great revolutions that have mar$ed the twentieth century, the American
-evolution succeeded in accomplishing what it set out to do ( 7to give men more liberty
than they had reviously ossessed7 ("iller, 6viii(6i6)
Ahile the :uestion of how revolutionary the American -evolution was remains an
inherently unresolved issue (Hipset, 1'), there is no doubt that the American e6perience
was a real -evolution )t was a struggle to progress from dependent colonies to
independent states, from monarchy to republic, from membership in an e6tended empire
in which the several members were connected only through the center to participation in
a singly federal nation (4reene, 1) And it succeeded
=; &oundations of $merican ,o%ernment
Henry Hudson's ship
3ea travel e6panded the hori<ons of many European nations and created prosperity and
the conditions for the Enlightenment )n turn, the Enlightenment ideals of liberty,
e:uality, and 9ustice helped to create the conditions for the American -evolution and the
subse:uent Constitution
1emocracy was not created in a heartbeat )n a world where people were ruled by
monarchs from above, the idea of self(government is entirely alien 1emocracy ta$es
practice and wisdom from e6perience
!he American colonies began developing a democratic tradition during their earliest
stages of development 8ver 1D' years later, the colonists believed their e6perience was
great enough to refuse to recogni<e the #ritish $ing !he first decade was roc$y !he
American -evolution and the domestic instability that followed prompted a call for a new
type of government with a constitution to guarantee liberty !he constitution drafted in
the early days of the independent American republic has endured longer than any in
human history
Ahere did this democratic tradition truly beginR !he ideas and practices that led to the
development of the American democratic republic owe a debt to the ancient civili<ations
of 4reece and -ome, the +rotestant -eformation, and 4utenberg's printing press #ut the
Enlightenment of 17th(century Europe had the most immediate impact on the framers of
the 5nited 3tates Constitution
!e Pilosopes
Europeans of the 17th century no longer lived in the Sdar$nessS of the "iddle Ages
8cean voyages had put them in touch with many world civili<ations, and trade had
created a prosperous middle class !he +rotestant -eformation encouraged free thin$ers
to :uestion the practices of the Catholic Church, and the printing press spread the new
ideas relatively :uic$ly and easily !he time was ripe for the hilosohes, scholars who
promoted democracy and 9ustice through discussions of individual liberty and e:uality
Washington Crossing the Delaware
!he ideas of 18th(century philosophes inspired the ;ounding ;athers to revolt against
what they perceived as unfair #ritish ta6ation #ashington Crossing the )elaware is one
of the most famous depictions of the American -evolution
8ne of the first philosophes was !homas .obbes, an Englishman who concluded in his
famous boo$, =eviathan, that people are incapable of ruling themselves, primarily
because humans are naturally self(centered and :uarrelsome and need the iron fist of a
strong leader Hater philosophes, li$e 2oltaire, "ontes:uieu, and -ousseau were more
optimistic about democracy !heir ideas encouraged the :uestioning of absolute
monarchs, li$e the #ourbon family that ruled ;rance "ontes:uieu suggested a separation
of powers into branches of government not unli$e the system Americans would later
adopt !hey found eager students who later became the founders of the American
government
Jon 0oc1e
!he single most important influence that shaped the founding of the 5nited 3tates comes
from 0ohn Hoc$e, a 17th century Englishman who redefined the nature of government
Although he agreed with .obbes regarding the self(interested nature of humans, he was
much more optimistic about their ability to use reason to avoid tyranny )n his Second
Treatise of Government, Hoc$e identified the basis of a legitimate government
According to Hoc$e, a ruler gains authority through the consent of the governed !he
duty of that government is to protect the natural rights of the people, which Hoc$e
believed to include life, liberty, and property )f the government should fail to protect
these rights, its citi<ens would have the right to overthrow that government !his idea
deeply influenced !homas 0efferson as he drafted the 1eclaration of )ndependence
3mportant Englis 2ocuments
)ronically, the English political system provided the grist for the revolt of its own
American colonies ;or many centuries English monarchs had allowed restrictions to be
placed on their ultimate power !he "agna Carta, written in 1&1D, established the $ernel
of limited government, or the belief that the monarch's rule was not absolute Although
the document only forced Ming 0ohn to consult nobles before he made arbitrary decisions
li$e passing ta6es, the "agna Carta provided the basis for the later development of
+arliament 8ver the years, representative government led by a +rime "inister came to
control and eventually replace the $ing as the real source of power in #ritain
Philosophes
!he ideas of the ;rench Enlightenment hilosohes strongly influenced the American
revolutionaries ;rench intellectuals met in salons li$e this one to e6change ideas and
define their ideals such as liberty, e:uality, and 9ustice
!he +etition of -ight (1%&8) e6tended the rights of ScommonersS to have a voice in the
government !he English #ill of -ights (1%88) guaranteed free elections and rights for
citi<ens accused of crime Although Ming 4eorge ))) still had some real power in 177%,
#ritain was already well along on the path of democracy by that time
!he foundations of American government lie s:uarely in the 17th and 18th century
European Enlightenment !he American founders were well versed in the writings of the
philosophes, whose ideas influenced the shaping of the new country !homas 0efferson,
4eorge Aashington, 0ames "adison, and others too$ the brave steps of creating a
government based on the Enlightenment values of liberty, e:uality, and a new form of
9ustice "ore than &'' years later, that government is still intact