Oct. 11-16-18, 2001
Consequences of the American Revolution
Escalation: From Home Rule to Natural Rights
A. Continuing crises during
the 1760s and 1770s caused progressive escalation of American rhetoric and
1. Elite need to
recruit supporters among the common people led to argument that Americans
fought for liberty itself, not just against particular taxes.
2. All coercive
authority/sovereignty came under suspicion.
3. American leaders
reconsidered the basis of their rights. "Rights of Englishmen"
that once made Americans proud came to seem limited and insufficient.
3. New basis would
be "natural rights": identified by reason, possessed in state of
nature, universal, eternal & absolute.
B. The Reaction to the
Coercive Acts, 1774
1. Triggered Locke’s
right of revolution and led to the disappearance of British authority in
colonies. Committees of safety and provincial congresses took over.
2. Calling of 1st
Continental Congress: more a meeting than a government. Still avoided
criticizing the King.
II. War and
A. The Outbreak of War, But
1. Fighting breaks
out when British try to seize American arms and leaders outside Boston,
organized "minuteman" companies respond, are defeated at
Lexington, but rout British force at Concord=s
North Bridge, 19 April 1775.
3. Attacked by
militia and citizenry all the way back, retreating British suffer 275
casualties. Savagery erupts on both sides.
4. Full-scale war
then broke out, as New England troops captured Ft. Ticonderoga (May), fought
British to a costly standstill at Bunker Hill (June) and invaded Canada
5. Less fighting in
South, but a shocking development in Lord Dunmore's Proclamation (Dec.
1775): Royal governor of VA freed slaves who joined the British.
6. 2d Continental
Congress called and national army organized.
B. Slow movement
toward independence spurs more escalation.
1. Thomas Paine and Common
Sense, 1776, appealed to common people, defined struggle as one
against monarchy and for political liberty and equality.
2. Paine’s shockingly
democratic ideas about government: Annually-elected national legislature,
w/o an upper house or a permanent executive.
3. Thomas Jefferson’s
Independence: invoked right of revolution, installed natural rights
& Paine's ideas as founding principles of new nation.
4. As Declaration spread,
mobs tore down the symbols of royal authority and real revolution began.
Revolutionary Transformation of America
A. Overview of the
1. A process
began of making every aspect of American life consistent with Revolution=s
stated republican & egalitarian ideals.
and reformers developed their own interpretations of Revolutionary ideals,
took Revolutionary changes much further than the protesters of the 1760s had
B. The Revolution and the
Problem of Slavery
1. A contradiction
revealed, between equality/natural rights, and chattel slavery. Blacks
petitioned for freedom or otherwise showed that they did not want to be
2. New England:
quick abolition, sometimes by legal ruling.
3. Middle States:
gradual abolition, growth of an independent black community.
4. During war,
British freed or confiscated thousands of slaves. Blacks fought on both
5. Upper South:
increased manumission, liberalization.
6. Lower South:
harsher slave codes, increased imports.
C. The Revolution Against
1. Decline of
deference in daily social life and styles.
democratization of child-rearing and marriage.
3. Beginnings of
the recognition of womens’ rights.
D. The Democratic Revolution
1. Written state
constitutions (world’s first) put tight limits on government authority.
2. Features of
early state constitutions: weak governors, weak judiciaries, broad suffrage.
Most radical was the Pennsylvania Constitution of
3. Confiscation of
4. Democratic state
politics: new men in power, laws protecting debtors, localism, and lack of
cooperation with Congress.
5. Common people
(including soldiers) rebelled, rioted, and mutinied when their rights were
violated, even by Americans.
"Disestablishment" of the churches in the South and the Middle
States. Increases sectional difference.