The Confederation and the Constitution, 1776–1790
Theme: The American Revolution was not a radical transformation like the French or Russian revolutions, but it did produce political innovations and some social change in the direction of greater equality and democracy. Theme: Compromise on a number of important issues was required in order to create the new federal Constitution. Adopting the new document required great political skill and involved changing the ratification process defined in the Articles of Confederation, writing persuasively in support of the stronger central government, and promising to add amendments to protect individual liberty and states' rights. Theme: The federal Constitution represented a moderately conservative reaction against the democratic and decentralizing effects of the Revolution and the Articles of Confederation. In effect, it embedded the revolutionary ideals of liberty and popular government within a strong framework designed to advance national identity and interests against the dangers of fragmentation and disorder. CHAPTER SUMMARY
The American Revolution did not overturn the social order, but it did produce substantial changes in social customs, political institutions, and ideas about society and government. Among the changes were the separation of church and state in some places, the abolition of slavery in the North, written political constitutions, and a shift in political power from the eastern seaboard toward the frontier. The first weak national government, the Articles of Confederation, was unable to exercise real authority, although it did successfully deal with the western lands issue. The Confederation’s weaknesses in handling foreign policy, commerce and the Shays rebellion spurred the movement to alter the Articles. Instead of revising the Articles, the well-off delegates to the Constitutional Convention created a permanent charter for a whole new government. In a series of compromises, the convention produced a plan that provided for a vigorous central government, a strong executive, and protection for property, while still upholding republican principles and states’ rights. The pro-Constitution Federalists, generally representing wealthier and more commercial forces, frightened other groups who feared that the new government would undermine their rights and their interests. The Federalists met their strongest opposition from Anti-Federalists in Virginia and New York, but through effective organization and argument, as well as promises to incorporate a bill of rights into the document, they succeeded in getting the Constitution ratified. By establishing the new national government, the Federalists checked the Revolutionary movement, but their conservative regime embraced the central Revolutionary values of popular republican government and liberty.
Society of the Cincinnati
Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom
Empress of China
Second Continental Congress
Articles of Confederation
Land Ordinance of 1785
Northwest Ordinance of 1787
North African Pirates
Checks and Balances
Bill of Rights
The Pursuit of Equality
What social changes resulted from the American Revolution?
How did the relationship...
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