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The Impact of the American Revolution on American Society

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1 The Impact of the American Revolution on American Society

2 Changes to American Society
Blacks demanded the right to freedom in petitions & lawsuits States abolished “feudal” laws of primogeniture & entail The American Revolution led to unintended social changes by forcing many Americans to question the meaning of “equality” Many wanted to eliminate the idea of an American aristocracy Fighting British tyranny made slavery seem hypocritical; Abolitionist sentiment grew Women gained increased status Many states lowered property qualifications to vote; but none offered universal male suffrage Franklin, Jay, Hamilton founded abolition societies; Washington manumitted his slaves Most states clearly separated church & state VT, PA, MA abolished slavery Some Southern slave owners privately freed their slaves “Republican Motherhood”—mothers should instill virtue in their children In North, slavery not economically necessary; immigrants resented competing against slave labor VT, PA slavery was abolished; in MA slavery “unconstitutional” But…freed blacks discriminated In South, some slave owners privately free slaves, but economic motives too powerful (plantations, cotton gin in 1793, & opening of AL & Miss frontier) Took greater control over family farms & businesses

3 Benjamin Banneker & Phillis Wheatley
Benjamin Banneker was a free-born descendant of slaves who became a famous 18th-century astronomer, mathematician and surveyor. He is considered by many to be the first African-American scientist. Banneker was raised on a tobacco farm in rural Maryland, where he attended school but was largely self-taught in the sciences. Although Banneker worked most of his life as a farmer, his analytical and problem-solving skills have become legendary. His achievements are indeed impressive: at age 24 he figured out how to build a clock and constructed one out of wood; he taught himself astronomy and published a popular almanac, Benjamin Banneker's Almanac, from 1792 to 1797; he was appointed to assist in surveying the Federal Territory, the plot of land that was to become Washington, D.C.; he worked on calculating the precise measurement of the meter; and he corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on the issue of slavery and the intellectual equality of blacks. Banneker never married and much of his personal life is now a mystery, as his papers and belongings were destroyed in a fire that occurred on the day of his funeral. Phillis Wheatley The first black woman poet of note in the United States. Wheatley's better-known pieces include “To the University of Cambridge in New England,” “To the King's Most Excellent Majesty,” “On the Death of Rev. Dr. Sewall,” and “An Elegiac Poem, on the Death of the Celebrated Divine¼George Whitefield,” the last of which was the first of her poems to be published, in She was escorted by Mr. Wheatley's son to London in 1773, and there her first book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published. Her personal qualities, even more than her literary talent, contributed to her great social success in London. She returned to Boston shortly thereafter because of the illness of her mistress. Both Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley died soon thereafter, and Phillis was freed. In 1778 she married John Peters, an intelligent but irresponsible free black man who eventually abandoned her. At the end of her life Wheatley was working as a servant, and she died in poverty.

4 Postponing Full Liberty
The Revolution was limited in its extension of rights & failed to abolish slavery, grant universal male suffrage, or apply equality to women; But… …it introduced the ideal of freedom and equality that future generations would use to make these ideals a reality Lots of references to the “Spirit of ‘76” World War I propaganda poster 6

5 New State & National Governments

6 Forming New Governments
When independence was declared from England in 1776, colonists considered themselves a new nation & needed a new gov’t: Colonies became individually sovereign states governed by written state constitutions A national gov’t was needed to provide basic services like sign treaties & develop a military In 1776, the American Revolution has just started; The colonists did not wait to gain British recognition of their independence before creating new governments!

7 States Constitutions In 1776, the new states created written constitutions which: Clearly defined the citizens’ rights & the limits of government Guaranteed natural rights; Eight states had bills of rights Almost all states reduced the powers of the governor & kept most power in the hands of the people via state legislatures 7

8 How “democratic” are these new state gov’ts?
The United States, 1783 How “democratic” are these new state gov’ts?

9 Defining Republican Culture
But, creating a national gov’t that met everyone’s needs was hard: How to balance individual liberty with maintaining order? How to balance property rights with equality? How to create a centralized gov’t without creating a new tyrannical authority? 2

10 Defining Republican Culture
Civic virtue is now a necessity Americans set out to create a republican form of government after independence was declared: Gov’t with no king or aristocracy With power held by the citizens Even though all previous republics had failed, Americans were optimistic this would be an “uncompromising commitment to liberty & equality” 2

11 The Articles of Confederation
In 1775, three committees were formed to sever ties with England: Thomas Jefferson headed the committee to draft a declaration of independence John Adams headed committee to establish foreign alliances John Dickinson headed a committee to draft a new central government 11

12 Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation was adopted as America’s 1st national gov’t in 1777 (but ratified in 1781) The Articles established an intentionally weak central gov’t in order to protect state power The confederation-style gov’t gave all 13 states 1 vote in a unicameral congress There was no national president Each state was treated as a pseudo-nation The war is still going on (will not end until 1781 with Cornwallis surrender & 1783 Treaty of Paris) Too similar to a monarch

13 The Articles of Confederation
The Articles were created to loosely tie the states together The only powers granted to the national government were to Settle disputes between states, negotiate treaties, handle Indian affairs, oversee a military It could not tax citizens or states; could only request contributions Laws required 9 of the 13 states Amending the gov’t required agreement by all 13 states

14 “A firm league of friendship”
The colonies were loosely joined to address common problems "each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power...which is not... expressly delegated to the United States.…"

15 What is the significance of the following quote:
“People do not chop off heads so readily when they can chop down trees.”

16 Western Lands The “West” presented a problem:
Many states had overlapping land claims in the West Some “landless” states (MD, NJ, DE) wanted part of West & refused to ratify the Articles without this issue resolved The US gov’t negotiated treaties with Indians to gain land in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky 12

17 The USA in the “Critical Period”
The United States, 1783 The USA in the “Critical Period”

18 Western Lands Virginia took the lead to solve the “West problem” by ceding its western claims to the national gov’t Other states, especially NY, ceded their western lands too By 1781, Congress (not the states) gained control over all lands west of the Appalachians With dispute over, Maryland was the last state to ratify the Articles With the new gov’t finally ratified in 1781, Congress created the Departments of War, Foreign Affairs, & Finance 12

19 Western Land Claims Ceded by the States
Don’t forget Indian lands too Indian Land Cessions:

20 The Land Ordinance of 1785 The U.S. gov’t was eager to sell off Western lands to settlers to gain revenue (since the gov’t did not have the power to tax) The Land Ordinance of 1785 established an orderly process for laying out western townships Section 16 of the each township was dedicated to public schools 13


22 The Northwest Ordinance
The Northwest Ordinance (1787) gave structure to the NW territory: Created new territories, ruled by a governor, & whose citizens were protected by a bill of rights Residents could create a legislative assembly when the population reached 5,000 Residents could apply for statehood with 60,000 people Slavery outlawed in NW lands 13

23 Prospectors poured into Kentucky & Tennessee
The United States, 1783 Because of the 1785 & 1787 ordinances, the Northwest territories were well organized & orderly Prospectors poured into Kentucky & Tennessee By 1790, the region was plagued by land claims & counterclaims that generated lawsuits for years The USA in 1787 Territories south of the Ohio River received less attention from Congress

24 Conclusions The Articles of Confederation accomplished exactly what its framers intended: By creating a weak central gov’t, the power of the states was preserved & no tyrants emerged The weaknesses of the central gov’t failed to meet the long-term needs of the new USA

25 Essential Question: Why did the Americans create the Articles of Confederation & what problems did the Articles present? Warm-Up Question: What major decisions did the new American nation have to answer after winning the war for independence? Lesson Plan for September 9, 2008: Warm-up, Articles of Confed Notes, Examine the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation cartoon

26 Examining the Articles of Confederation

27 The Weaknesses of the Articles
The Articles of Confederation served as the framework for the U.S. gov’t from 1781 until 1789: Early in the “Confederation Period,” the weakness of the national gov’t was seen as good because it eliminated tyranny Later, these same weaknesses kept the gov’t from solving serious national problems

28 Economic Problems During the American Revolution, colonial boycotts hurt trade Everyone expected the economy to improve after independence, but the Confederation Congress had a difficult time: Paying off debt & collecting taxes Halting inflation Generating a favorable balance of trade (foreign & domestic) 14

29 Debt, Taxes, & Inflation The gov’t could request, but not require, states to send money to Congress The U.S. was burdened with $40 million in war debt in 1783: The Confederate Congress could not ease the national debt because it had no power to tax Congress printed $200 million in new currency to pay off debt but this led to massive inflation Creditors demanded repayment of debts at market value

30 Trade Problems under the Articles
Connecticut levied heavier duties on Massachusetts goods than on British goods Congress was unable to create a favorable balance of trade: To raise revenue, states created tariffs on goods from other states The lack of hard currency made trade difficult Desire for cheap British goods hurt infant American industries England prohibited its Caribbean colonies from trading with USA This especially hurt the North This especially hurt Southern planters

31 Economic Problems Washington kept generals from overthrowing the new government: "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country." The economic stagnation of the Confederation era led to uprisings: The lack of tax revenue & failure of the gov’t to pay soldiers sparked a military coup in 1783 called the Newburgh Conspiracy Property foreclosures led to desperation & uprising farmers in 1787 called Shays’ Rebellion Shays’ Rebellion proved to be the convincing event that led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 Following his address Washington studied the faces of his audience. He could see that they were still confused, uncertain, not quite appreciating or comprehending what he had tried to impart in his speech. With a sigh, he removed from his pocket a letter and announced it was from a member of Congress, and that he now wished to read it to them. He produced the letter, gazed upon it, manipulated it without speaking. What was wrong, some of the men wondered. Why did he delay? Washington now reached into a pocket and brought out a pair of new reading glasses. Only those nearest to him "As he read the letter, many were in tears" knew he lately required them, and he had never worn them in public. Then he spoke: "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country." This simple act and statement by their venerated commander, coupled with remembrances of battles and privations shared together with him, and their sense of shame at their present approach to the threshold of treason, was more effective than the most eloquent oratory. As he read the letter to their unlistening ears, many were in tears from the recollections and emotions which flooded their memories. As Maj. Samuel Shaw, who was present, put it in his journal, " There was something so natural, so unaffected in this appeal as rendered it superior to the most studied oratory. It forced its way to the heart, and you might see sensibility moisten every eye." 15

32 Shay’s Rebellion in Western Massachusetts
Poor farmers in western MA were angered over high taxes & prospect of debtors jail Daniel Shays led an uprising & closed debt courts & threatened a federal arsenal In 1786, nearly 2,000 debtor farmers in western Massachusetts were threatened with foreclosure of their mortgaged property. The state legislature had voted to pay off the state's Revolutionary War debt in three years; between 1783 and 1786, taxes on land rose more than 60 percent. Desperate farmers demanded a cut in property taxes and adoption of state laws to postpone farm foreclosures. The lower house of the state legislature passed relief measures in 1786, but creditors persuaded the upper house to reject the package. When lower courts started to seize the property of farmers such as Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran, western Massachusetts farmers temporarily closed the courts and threatened a federal arsenal. Although the rebels were defeated by the state militia, they were victorious at the polls. A new legislature elected early in 1787 enacted debt relief. By the spring of 1787, many national leaders believed that the new republic's survival was at risk. The threat of national bankruptcy, commercial conflicts among the states, Britain's refusal to evacuate military posts, Spanish intrigues on the western frontier, and armed rebellion in western Massachusetts underscored the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. The only solution, many prominent figures were convinced, was to create an effective central government led by a strong chief executive.

33 Economic Problems “Nationalists” called for a stronger central gov’t & a constitutional amendment to allow create a 5% import tax & a national bank 12 states agreed, but a group of Rhode Island “Localists” refused & killed the amendment The failure to reform the Articles led Nationalists to consider the Articles hopelessly defective Led by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, & Robert Morris “A national debt if not excessive, will be a national blessing”—Hamilton 15

34 Foreign Policy Problems
Congress & the army were too weak to resist The Articles proved inadequate to handle interstate & foreign affairs: When Americans did not repay legitimate war debts, Britain kept troops in the Ohio Valley Spain refused to recognize the southern U.S. border & closed access to the Mississippi River Algerian pirates attacked & enslaved American merchants States argued over river rights John Jay’s Jay-Gardoqui Treaty was met with regional resistance & was rejected in Congress 16

35 “Have We Fought for This?”
“Have we fought for this? Was it with these expectations that we launched into a sea of trouble?” —George Washington, 1785

36 Constitutional Reform
American political ideology changed from the beginning of the American Revolution to the late Confederation period: In the 1770s, American political leaders saw tyranny as the greatest threat to the USA But…by the mid-1780s, they saw ordinary citizens who lacked virtue as the greatest threat Thus, states created weak state governors & a weak Articles of Confederation The problem is an excess of democracy not an excess of tyranny Shays’ Rebellion will help prove this point to the Founding Fathers 17

37 Constitutional Reform
Congress did not have the tax funds to send an army Merchants in MA hired their own mercenary militia to end the uprising By 1787, the fatal flaws of the Articles of Confed were exposed: Shays’ Rebellion broke out among desperate MA farmers who faced losing their farms or being sent to debtor’s prison Congress called for a meeting in Philadelphia to discuss revising the Articles & strengthening the national gov’t Shays’ Rebellion gave nationalists like Washington, Madison, Hamilton the urgency to call for a stronger national gov’t In Sept 1786, James Madison led the Annapolis Convention to discuss improving American trade 18


39 The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, 1787

40 The Philadelphia Convention
Shays Rebellion led to increased support for a stronger central government & more attendance at the Philadelphia Convention In May 1787, 55 delegates from all states (except RI) met to discuss revising the Articles of Confederation, but it soon became apparent that something more serious was needed They did NOT intend to replace the Articles 19

41 The Philadelphia Convention
Is this a government of the people? The Philadelphia Convention delegates in Philadelphia made 3 important (& illegal) decisions: The Articles of Confederation were to be completely replaced Nothing from the meeting was to be printed or spoken to the public Every state got 1 vote but all decisions needed a majority vote (not 9 of 13 states) to pass To amend the Articles, all 13 states had to agree

42 Inventing a Federal Republic
Delegates incorporated 4 major principles into this new gov’t: Limited gov’t—even though a stronger gov’t was being created, citizens’ liberty is protected Republicanism—the people vote for their leaders Separation of powers—three branches with defined powers Federalism—the national gov’t shares power with state gov’ts 21

43 Three Branches of Government

44 Federalism

45 Inventing a Federal Republic
James Madison presented the Virginia Plan: Bicameral legislature Larger states had more representatives Create a chief executive appointed by Congress William Paterson presented the New Jersey Plan: Congress given power to tax Each state had one vote in a unicameral legislature But Articles mostly untouched Small states objected to this large-state dominance The large states listened politely then overwhelmingly voted against it 21

46 The Great Compromise Also known as the “Connecticut” Compromise” Roger Sherman helped resolve the differences between the large & small states by proposing the Great Compromise Congress would be a bicameral legislature (House & Senate) Each state was given 2 delegates in the Senate House of Representatives was determined by state population Victory for the small states Victory for large states Only the House of Reps could introduce tax bills 22

47 What did Congress look like after the Great Compromise?


49 The 3/5 Compromise Problems still remained between the northern & southern states regarding how to count population size (do slaves count?) The Three-Fifths Compromise settled the issue: Three-fifths of the slave population could be counted toward representation in the House of Representatives 22


51 Compromising with Slavery
Despite the contradiction slavery posed, Southerners threatened to leave the USA anytime the slave question was discussed As a compromise for the South, the slave trade could continue to 1808 & runaway slaves returned “Great as the evil is, a dismemberment of the Union would be worse.” —James Madison 23

52 The Last Details In 1787, a final draft included:
Electoral College to vote for the president to “filter the masses” System of checks & balances among the 3 branches of gov’t President would serve for 4 years rather than for life Delegates decided against a Bill of Rights because most state constitutions already had them Including ideas once considered tyrannical: Presidential power to appoint judges & presidential veto power over Congress

53 FYI: Electoral Votes (2000 Census)


55 James Madison helped broker many of the compromises that made the Constitution possible & is referred to as the “father of the Constitution”

56 Key Ideas of the Constitution
Only Congress can make laws, declare war, create taxes The “elastic clause” gives Congress implied powers to make laws seen as “necessary & proper” The Senate ratifies treaties & confirms judicial appointments

57 Key Ideas of the Constitution
The president can only recommend legislation to Congress but can veto bills The president oversees the bureaucracy

58 Key Ideas of the Constitution
The only court mentioned in the Constitution is the Supreme Court

59 Federalism—state gov’ts & the national gov’t both have power
The supremacy clause establishes the Constitution (not the states) as the "the supreme law of the land" A state law cannot contradict a national law

60 The Struggle for Ratification

61 The Struggle for Ratification
The delegates in Philadelphia knew that ratification of the new Constitution would not be easy: They had no authority to change the Articles of Confederation They did not inform the public of their ongoing decisions They fundamentally altered the relationships between the states & the central government

62 Federalists & Anti-Federalists
Supported ratification of the Constitution Were well-organized & educated Used Federalist Papers to argue for ratification Had the support of the media Anti-Federalists Against ratification Distrusted of a gov’t that removed power from the hands of the people Claimed the new Constitution favored the upper class Authored by Madison, Hamilton, & Jay Anti-Federalists argued for more protection of individual liberties “The Constitution is itself a Bill of Rights” 26

63 Ratification of the Constitution

64 Adding the Bill of Rights
To win ratification, the Federalists agreed to add a Bill of Rights With this protection of citizens’ liberty, all 13 states agreed to ratify the Constitution Constitution became the official the law of the land in 1789 After bitter fight, most Americans chose to support the Constitution If 1776 was the 1st American Revolution… 1787 was the 2nd American Revolution 27


66 Discussion Question Which of the following ideas was most important to the framers of the Constitution in 1787? Federalism Separation of powers? Checks and balances? Republican democracy? Gov’t limited by the people? Which is most important today?


68 Essential Question: In what ways did the Constitution deviate from the gov’t under the Articles of Confederation? What were the Federalist and Anti-Federalist critiques regarding the new Constitution? Lesson Plan for Thursday, September 11, 2008: RQ 8A, Constitution Notes, Examine Federalist Papers vs. Anti-Federalist documents, & Constitution scavenger hunt

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