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1775 to 1800

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 5 years, 5 months ago


The American Revolution, Critical Period and Constitution
1775 to 1800

After the British victory in the French and Indian War, the colonists were feeling good about themselves as British subjects. That began to change when they were taxed, regulated, and legislated. The American Revolution was fought between the world’s mightiest power, England, and its wayward America Colonies. The Americans shocked the world and earned victory with the help of France and Spain. During the war, the Articles of Confederation were written, becoming the first form of government. These documents had flaws that were later corrected by the Constitution.


Even at the beginning of the American Revolution, there were many people who were either more pro British or completely indifferent to the cause of independence. The American colonists were divided into three groups: the Patriots, Loyalists, and the largest group, the Neutralists. At the conclusion of the war many Loyalists moved to Canada to remain under British authority. Both the Loyalist and the Patriots were fighting the American Revolution to persuade the Neutralists to join their cause. To persuade the neutralists, Thomas Paine wrote the pamphlet Common Sense in 1776. Later that same year, on July 4th , Thomas Jefferson’s pre-immanent statement of rights, the Declaration of Independence, was signed and has been celebrated as America’s birthday ever since. With his army about to dissolve, George Washington iconicly crossed the Delaware River on December 25th 1776, my birthday, to attack the Hessian Mercenaries in the Battle of Trenton.


The American army scored a surprising victory at the Battle of Saratoga, causing the French to support our cause, mainly to kill British. The war concluded with an American Victory at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783 granting America its independence.


During the war, the Articles of Confederation were written, which became our first governing documents. Although extremely weak, they lead us through the crisis. Most notably the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1785, this act divided the present day Midwest into territories and, reflecting the Revolutionary spirit, prohibited slavery. Many Northern States began banning slavery as it didn’t seem to fit with the ideals of the revolution.


Woman’s status was beginning to change slightly, albeit perceptually. Mothers were looked upon as needing to raise children and instill republican ideals into them; this is known as Republican Motherhood.  But, women were all confined to the home as the term Cult of Domesticity reflects.


As the republic moved forward, it became increasingly obvious to the founders that the government was too weak. This was especially apparent after a discontented group of indebt farmers attacked the government during Shay’s Rebellion. The Constitutional Convention was called to fix the Articles of Confederation. They wanted a chief executive, the power to tax, and an Independent Judiciary. Unfortunately, there was not an argument on what the document should look like. The debates that followed were acrimonious and the convention nearly ended at one point over representation until the Great Compromise saved the day. Other debates and Compromises were passed about Federalism, the power of the Federal Government, and Slavery.


When the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification the debate was renewed and intensified. The seeds of political parties developed. The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, called for strong central government. The Anti-Federalists, led by Thomas Jefferson, insisted that state governments should be superior. The constitution was ratified in 1789 and in 1791 the Bill of Rights was added to protect individual rights. President George Washington established many of the customs that are still used today. One of his most lasting pieces of advice was a strict Policy of Neutrality, which lasted until after World War II in 1945. After two terms as president, Washington retired. The election of 1800 was considered revolutionary for it was the first time that political power was transferred peacefully between two different political parties the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans.


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