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The American Revolution Using E.Q.U.A.L. The American Institute for History Education Dr. Yohuru Williams
Standards Correlations This lesson correlates to the National History Standards. Era 3 -Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s) Standard 1C -Demonstrate understanding of the factors affecting the course of the war and contributing to the American victory. This lesson correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government. Standard IV.A.2. -Explain how nation-states interact with each other. Constitutional Connection This lesson focuses on the American Revolution, which encouraged the founding fathers' desire to create a government that would, as stated in the Preamble, insure domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense.
Two American Revolutions? “The alleged “critical period” between the end of the Revolution and the Constitution’s adoption was not dominated by economic depression, political turmoil, and international peril, jeopardizing the independent survival of the American experiment in liberty. Those who assembled at the Philadelphia Convention to write a new Constitution were not disinterested demigods, nor did they intend to establish a federal system of divided government powers. The Constitution did not have the support of most Americans. And finally, rather than representing the culmination of the previous Revolution, the Constitution represented a reactionary counter- revolution against its central principles.” Source: Did the Constitution Betray the Revolution? Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, William Marina January 1, 1981
The Classic Revolution After the Revolution: The Anti-federalists With the words, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” Patrick Henry sounded the keynote of the American Revolution. After the Revolution, Henry and his supporters blocked the Constitution’s ratification until it bore the amendments known as the Bill of Rights. Mindful of these principles, the first generation of Americans reinvented themselves and their society.
The Classic Revolution After the Revolution The creation of the Constitution entailed hours of debate and compromise, and even when it was completed, some delegates were unhappy with it. The task of fixing the ailing Confederate government was not complete yet; each state had to ratify, or approve, the Constitution. Basically, people divided into two groups, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Each of their viewpoints is worth examining, as they both had sound reasoning and in a real sense appealed to the ideals of the Revolution.
The Classic Revolution After the Revolution: The Anti-Federalists The Anti-Federalists did not want to ratify the Constitution. Basically, they argued that: It gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the state governments. There was no bill of rights. The national government could maintain an army in peacetime. Congress, because of the `necessary and proper clause,' wielded too much power. The executive branch held too much power.
Betraying the Revolution? They envisioned that the spirit of the revolution would be betrayed and the new nation would be troubled by the same problems burdened the colonies under British Rule.
Shay’s Rebellion 1786 to 1787. When the fighting ceased and with their independence won, the American people were left with thirteen loosely united states. What seemed simple – that these individual states could be both independent and united as a nation – would not be easy.
The Anti-Federalists and the American Revolution The way in which we conceptualize the revolution and engage its meaning for the Constitution can broaden our understanding of its deeper meaning. For example, how exactly did their values transform politics, economics, and culture in the new republic?
Breaking down the R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N In order to do this we are literally going to break down the Revolution into its parts beginning with the letter R...
R: Reason In light of their struggle with Britain the colonists saw themselves as a new society based on new principles of government. “Governments are instituted among men,” proclaimed Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This idea– that the people, not their rulers, are sovereign – was revolutionary... But it also must be understood in the context of World History.
From Reason to Revolution The eighteenth century is often called the Age of Reason or The Age of Enlightenment. During this time, the colonies, like many other European nations, were caught up in the ideas of such men as Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Diderot. In the popular coffee houses of Paris people from all walks of life were meeting to discuss these new philosophies. There were five basic ideas of the Enlightenment: Reason, Nature, Happiness, Progress and Liberty.
Background: The Power of Ideas The Ideas of the Enlightenment The Declaration of Independence The American Revolution The French Revolution The Haitian Revolution
Historical Fingerprinting What we will be looking for is the Core. The base of the argument or appeal. The crossover, how that argument or appeal builds on earlier or relates to later historical events. And in what ways is it unique or an “island” unto itself. So these five ideas Reason, Nature, Happiness, Progress and Liberty Reason are the fingerprints of the Enlightenment.
R: Reason The Revolution Takes Place in the Age of Reason William Pitt
Sugar or Equal Sweetening your colonial coffee or more appropriately Tea
E.Q.U.A.L. The document should contain an Enumeration of basic rights and principles. The document should address Quality of life issues. The document should promote the cause of community Unity. The document should be an Antecedent, forerunner to the United States Constitution. The document should express an appreciation of freedom and or Liberty.
A City Upon a Hill Antecedent documents trace back to the Magna Carta (1215) which limited the power of the English King and include such diverse sources as John Winthrop’s City Upon a Hill and Nathaniel Bacon’s Declaration of the Rights of the People (1676) not to mention the West New Jersey Charter (1676).
City Upon a Hill Applying the E.Q.U.A.L. Enumeration Quality of Life Promote the cause of Unity Antecedent Expresses a desire for freedom or liberty.
The Declaration of Independence When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
The Declaration of Independence We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man Approved by the National Assembly of France, August 26, 1789 There were 17 in total. 1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good. 2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. 3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation. 4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law. 5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
E: Emancipation The Revolution presented the opportunity for liberation for many people inspired by the language of the Enlightenment
The Paradox of American Slavery As Lawrence Goldstone provocatively makes clear in Dark Bargain, “to a significant and disquieting degree, America’s most sacred document was molded and shaped by the most notorious institution in its history.”
Paradox Defined How could the founding fathers who envisioned a nation where “all men are created equal” also hold other human beings in bondage and preserve the concept of slavery? This is a question that has plagued historians for decades.
The Unintended and the Unexpected Recognize the importance of individuals who have made a difference in history Appreciate the force of the non-rational, the irrational, and the accidental Understand the relationship between geography and history as a matrix of time and place.
Women, Slaves and Common Men Defending the British soldiers accused in perpetrating the Boston Massacre, John Adams attempted to calm the town by dismissing the waterfront characters who had been killed as "a rabble of saucy boys, negroes and mulattoes, Irish teagues, and outlandish jack tars."
The poetry of Grace Growden Galloway, 1760s "... I am Dead Dead to each pleasing thought each Joy of Life Turn'd to that heavy lifeless lump a wife." "never get Tyed to a Man for when once you are yoked Tis all a Mere Joke of seeing your freedom again."
Abigail Adams Abigail Adams to John Adams, March 31, 1776 “I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.”
Abigail Adams "Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation. "That your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute; but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up -- the harsh tide of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend.”
Abigail Adams "Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? "Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the (servants) of your sex; regard us then as being placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness."
“the despotism of the petticoat” JOHN ADAMS TO ABIGAIL ADAMS APRIL 14, 1776 "We have been told that our struggle has loosened the bonds of government everywhere; that children and apprentices were disobedient; that schools and colleges were grown turbulent; that Indians slighted their guardians, and negroes grew insolent to their masters.”
Republican Motherhood & Petticoat Despotism “But your letter was the first intimation that another tribe, more numerous and powerful than all the rest, were grown discontented. This is rather too coarse a compliment, but you are so saucy, I won't blot it out.”
The power of the petticoat? "Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems. Although they are in full force, you know they are little more than theory. We dare not exert our power in its full latitude. We are obliged to go fair and softly, and, in practice, you know we are the subjects.” John Adams to Abigail Adams April 14, 1776
The Cult of Domesticity "We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes would fight."
Desperate First Wives ABIGAIL ADAMS TO JOHN ADAMS, MAY 7, 1776: "I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives. "But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken; and, notwithstanding all your wise laws and maxims, we have it in our power, not only to free ourselves, but to subdue our masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet."
Good Wives: Republican Wives and Mothers According to historian James Henretta, “democratic-republican ideology encouraged demands for the legal emancipation of women even as republican practice denied them.” “A few American public leaders,” he continued, “responded positively to female demands for greater equality, but usually with male needs in mind.” James Henretta, Society and Republicanism: America in 1787 No. 15, Summer 1987.
Good Wives: Republican Motherhood “In his Thoughts on Female Education (1787),” Henretta notes,... “Benjamin Rush advocated intellectual training of women, so they would, “be an agreeable companion for a sensible man.” Rush and other men of affairs likewise praised “republican mothers” who instructed “their sons in the principles of liberty and government.”
The Haitian Revolution In August 1791, a massive slave revolt exploded in the French colony Saint Domingue, now known as Haiti. This civil unrest lasted from 1791 to 1804, and was a result of the conflicts between white planters, free coloureds, slaves and petit blancs. Other Caribbean islands experienced similar revolts but no other country was able to defeat the planters, free the slaves, and make a successful bid for independence.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man 17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.
Historical Agency and the Haitian Revolution The exceptional experience of Haiti can be explained by the fact that France, the colonizer, was also in a state of revolution from 1789. This lit the flames of revolution in Haiti. The principles of the French Revolution with its watchwords of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, served as an inspiration for the inhabitants of Haiti. The white planters saw it as an opportunity to secure independence from France, the free people of color wanted full citizenship, the petits blancs wanted “active citizenship“ for all white persons, and the slaves wanted freedom. The conflict between the free coloureds and the grand blancs gave the slaves a perfect opportunity to fight for their freedom.
V: Victory The Declaration of Independence showed England and other countries that Americans were determined to become a free nation. If the colonists lost the war, all the men who signed the declaration would hang.
Tiananmen Square: June 5, 1989 “On May 13 the hunger strike began in Tiananmen Square. Somehow that was a catalyst: more and more thoughts began to cross the line; Marx was replaced by Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King. Never had I expected to see a Chinese student in Tiananmen Square with a headband bearing the English words, "I have a dream."
Tiananmen Square: June 5, 1989 When workers joined the demonstrations, a success few had dared to hope for, the students lost their ideological nerve. Those demonstrating for due process and separation of powers stood side by side with those who admired Mao; together they faced down the army in the wee hours of May 21 and held control of Peking. "You have won," I told my Chinese friends. "The army has disobeyed." "The army will never disobey," they replied. "This is China." My Chinese friends were right. The Chinese government is not designed to respond to public opinion. There is no way orderly change can occur in a totalitarian society. George Jochnowitz, “The words of Marx, the methods of Lenin,” (Tiananmen Square massacre, China) National Review August 4, 1989.
O: Opportunity "I am sure America will be victorious finally, but her sufferings for want of union and public spirit may be great first. There is no people on earth that ever had so fair an opportunity to establish their freedom at so easy a rate, if the opportunity had been properly approved. God grant a happy issue to the war!" Letter from Gen. Greene to his wife, May 1777. Gen. Nathanael Greene (1742- 1786), second-in-command to Gen. George Washington
L: Liberty “The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.” John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
Paradox Defined How could the founding fathers who envisioned a nation where “all men are created equal” also hold other human beings in bondage and preserve the concept of slavery? This is a question that has plagued both apologists and critics of the American system.
The Paradox of American Slavery Some also took action. Franklin became president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negros Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Washington provided in his will for the emancipation of his slaves after the death of his wife. John Adams never owned slaves, as a matter of principle, yet in his letter to two Quaker abolitionists he expresses the widespread fear that emancipation—and agitation for it—would lead to violence. All three at various times expressed support for colonization.
The Paradox of American Slavery And again to Jefferson, who writes in 1809 that he has come to believe that black Africans "are on a par with ourselves" and that this awareness among citizens will hasten "the day of their relief." Someday. How one judges these men is problematic; they have been lauded and condemned for their words here.
Imperfect gods? When he died in 1799 Washington called for his manservant William Lee to be freed immediately, and given a pension. The other slaves were to be freed when his widow died. Martha chose to free them two years later. According to Abigail Adams this was because she feared her life might be in danger, since her death meant freedom for the slaves. (Hirschfield, p 214) Ironically, neither Washington nor his wife could legally free the dower slaves which still belonged to the Custis estate.
Dark Bargain created a fatal defect But in failing to address the issue of slavery fully in the hopes of securing a new Constitution, the founders allowed a deadly infection to continue to breed that would eventually result in the Civil War.
The Paradox of American Freedom In his book, American Slavery and Freedom (1975) Edmund S. Morgan moved the origins- of-slavery debate away from sectional differences and deep roots, relocating it in relation to the undoubted fact that late- eighteenth-century Virginia gave America its foremost exemplars of liberty. The link between what they proclaimed and how they lived was not, he suggests, mere happenstance or a regrettable but minor contradiction. It was fundamental. Edmund S. Morgan American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia, (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1975).
What made the founding fathers experts on Liberty? The great paradox of the Revolution is slavery, and the men we call the Founding Fathers knew it. They talked and wrote about it, justified its survival under the Constitution, and northerners among them urged its eradication, someday.
U: Unity Benjamin Franklin’s "Join or Die" Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), May 9, 1754 Newspaper Serial and Government Publications Division Library of Congress.
U: Unity In response to the Coercive Acts (several acts designed to restructure colonial government and reduce colonial freedoms passed in 1774), the colonies (except for Georgia) met at Philadelphia in the First Continental Congress. Along with a declaration of principle, the delegates also elected to boycott all British goods and cease exporting American products to Britain and its possessions. Women like those in North Carolina joined with their male counterparts and refused to buy and use British products, especially tea.
Unity The colonists invented or adopted emblems -- images accompanied by a motto -- and personifications -- allegorical figures -- to express their political needs. They used them as propaganda tools to draw together the country's diverse peoples (who spoke many languages) in order to promote national political union, the best hope of securing liberty and equal justice for all. Benjamin Franklin was responsible for suggesting the country's first emblem -- a native rattlesnake -- and its first personification -- Hercules. Both were readily understood by his contemporaries: the snake device conveyed the need for political solidarity among the colonies, while the strength of the infant Hercules was likened to that of the mighty young nation.
T: Tension From the Revolution to the Civil War Using ESP. What social, economic and political tensions are occasioned by the Revolution and the adoption of the new Constitution and persist to the American Civil War some 80 years later
What has this meant in terms of American social, economic and political traditions in the United States? American foreign policy? American popular culture and America’s image abroad?
O: Order The leaders of the American Revolution, writes the distinguished historian Bernard Bailyn, were radicals. But their concern was not to correct inequalities of class or income, not to remake the social order, but to "purify a corrupt constitution and fight off the apparent growth of prerogative power." They wished, in other words, to mend a broken system and improve upon it. In doing so they drew on many traditions of political and social thought, ranging from English conservative philosophers to exponents of the continental Enlightenment, from backward-looking interpretations of ancient Roman civilization to forward-looking views of a new American people.
O: Order “Novus Ordo Seclorum" "Novus Ordo Seclorum" was the motto suggested in 1782 by Charles Thomson, the Founding Father chosen by the Continental Congress to come up with the final design for the Great Seal of the United States. He adapted it from a line in Virgil's Eclogue IV, a pastoral poem that expresses the longing for a new era of peace and happiness which was written by the famed Roman writer in the first century B.C.
O: Order “Novus Ordo Seclorum" He put the motto at the bottom of the reverse side where its meaning ties into the imagery above it: the unfinished pyramid with the date MDCCLXXVI (1776). Thomson did not provide an exact translation of the motto, but he explained its symbolism: Novus Ordo Seclorum signifies "the beginning of the new American Era," which commences from 1776.
O: Order “Novus Ordo Seclorum" The farsighted founders of the United States thought in terms of ages. They looked back into history as well as forward, realizing their actions would have long-lasting consequences. In January 1776, Thomas Paine inspired the Colonies with a vision of this new American Era. In Common Sense he wrote: "The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind... 'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now."
Thomas Paine, The Crisis -- December 1776 "These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it Now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph."
O: Order “Novus Ordo Seclorum" In his farewell letter to the Army (June 8, 1783), George Washington wrote: "The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period."
N: Nationhood The Federalists had answers to all of the Anti- Federalist complaints. Among them: The separation of powers into three independent branches protected the rights of the people. Each branch represents a different aspect of the people, and because all three branches are equal, no one group can assume control over another. A listing of rights can be a dangerous thing. If the national government were to protect specific listed rights, what would stop it from violating rights other than the listed ones? Since we can't list all the rights, the Federalists argued that it's better to list none at all.
N: Nationhood Overall, the Federalists were more organized in their efforts. By June of 1788, the Constitution was close to ratification. Nine states had ratified it, and only one more (New Hampshire) was needed. To achieve this, the Federalists agreed that once Congress met, it would draft a bill of rights. Finally, New York and Virginia approved, and the Constitution was a reality. Interestingly, the Bill of Rights was not originally a part of the Constitution, and yet it has proved to be highly important to protecting the rights of the people.
Forging a new Nation Every time we revisit the issues posed in the bill of rights we revisit the Revolution and its meaning across time space, the good, the bad and the “Ugly.”
Final Thought: Gordon Wood Q. One of the most interesting observations you make is that Americans are unique in turning to the Founders of their country for guidance about current issues. Just recently Richard Brookhiser devoted an entire book to the subject, providing the answers he thinks the founders would give to the questions we face. Why do we do this?
Final Thought: Gordon Wood “I think we go back to the Founders to renew and reaffirm our faith in the values and ideals of the nation. We are not a nation in the usual sense of the term. To be an American is not to be somebody, but to believe in something. And that something is the ideals and values that came out of the Revolution and the framing of the Constitution. So the Founders give us a sense of who we are and what we believe in...”
the Founders give us a sense of who we are and what we believe in...” “Almost everything we believe as a people--our noblest ideals and highest aspirations--come out of the Revolution--our belief in liberty, equality, constitutionalism, self- government, the well-being of ordinary people--so it is not surprising that we should want to know about the men who created these ideas, institutions, and values.” Source: Interview with Gordon Wood: Revolutionary Characters By Rick Shenkman, History News Network, :12-04-06
We, the people, are sovereign! Next Time: Teaching the Preamble...