er The Confederation and the Constitution
The Pursuit of Equality
American Revolution was not a sudden radical change. Rather it was an accelerated evolution. Separation of church and state began. The "high-church" Anglican Church was disestablished (it stopped receiving tax money) although the Congregational Church continued is established status. The Anglican Church also became known as the Episcopal Church in order to distance itself from its English roots. To a large degree, life went on as usual—work, church, play. A change occurred in that with 80,000 Loyalists gone, a large chunk of the conservative wing was absent. "Equality" was the buzzword of the day.
With many conservatives gone, the door was opened for more equality-minded folks to rule. Commoners wanted to be called "Mr." and "Mrs.", titles once reserved for the elite. Slavery and equality were obviously at odds with one another. The beginnings of the anti-slavery movement were gaining steam. The Continental Congress of 1774 had called for the abolition of slavery. The Quakers founded the first abolition society in 1775, the world's first. Caught up in the equality movement, some slave owners were moved to free their slaves. Women gained little by the equality movement. There were small steps however… A few women served in the war disguised as men.
The New Jersey constitution permitted women to vote for a while. The notion of "republican motherhood" developed and gave the ladies a great deal of importance. The idea went that the women raised the children and therefore held great power and responsibility with the future of the republic in their hands. Constitution Making in the States
The 1776 Continental Congress called for each colony to write their own constitution and thus move from colony to state. Massachusetts gave America a "Constitutional Convention." It was a special meeting where the constitution was written, sent to the people for ratification (vote of approval), and could then only be changed by another Constitutional Convention. Many of the new constitutions shared similarities…
They were written documents and thus unchanging without a formal process. Being written, they were not based on a king's whims or on court decisions and common law which may change with the current winds. They reflected fundamental law. That is to say, they often dealt more in generalities and less in specifics which could be handled by specific laws passed by a state legislature. Many had a bill of rights.
Many specified annual elections of legislators (this was out of the desire to keep power with the people and from the fear that rulers in power too long grow comfortable and corrupted). They established weak executive and judicial branches. Again, this was out of the desire to keep power with the people, not with a governor or judges. Thomas Jefferson had warned that "173 despots [in a legislature] would surely be as oppressive as one (a despot is a dictator)." The legislative branch was often given nearly all of the power. New state capitals emerged. Many of these new capitals moved westward, or inland, following the westward migration of people. Examples are Manchester, NH; Albany, NY; Charlottesville, VA; Raleigh, NC; Columbia, SC; and Atlanta, GA. Economic Crosscurrents
Economic changes occurred after the war, but not to a revolutionary degree. Much of the Loyalist land had been seized and wound up in the hands of the poor. The Loyalists didn't see themselves beheaded however, as happened a few years later in the French Revolution. The myriad of goods and trade that used to come from England stopped. This both hurt and helped America. It hurt in the short run since England was America's top trade partner. It helped in the long run by forcing American industry to get started. This beginning of industry is not to be over-stated however. Americans were still by a large margin of around 90%, mostly farmers. Another benefit of losing trade with England was that...
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