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To What Extent Did the American Revolution Fundamentally Change American Society?

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After the American Revolution, the British no longer controlled the Americans, and they started to examine politics, the economy and society. Americans also changed how they wanted to govern their society, even though they reverted to a more centralized government. The uneducated people, as viewed by the elite, didn’t experience a lot of change, although, the revolution still driven some to seek better financial opportunities. Women, slaves, and loyalists (Tories) experienced a significant amount of change in society as women experienced more freedom, some slaves were set free, and loyalists left America. America didn’t experience a lot of economic change, but it did experienced political and social changes.

Americans adopted the Articles of Confederation, but it had no national executive branch. Raising taxes was not possible, because the Articles had no power, and the people who led the national government needed a strong centralized government. The constitution was written and it was eventually led into the process for ratification by all the states. James Madison wrote, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition” (Document I), which shows the concept of checks and balances could be used to keep the national government in line and not get corrupted.

Economically, Americans did not experience a lot of change. In Document F, The Philadelphia society for the promotion of agriculture in 1786, handed out a medal, which said, “venerate the plough”. The elite were still “rewarding” the common people who didn’t improve financially, before the revolution. This also relates to Shay’s Rebellion, and according to Document G, Adams wrote, “Some of them were crying out for a paper currency, some for an equal distribution of property.” This demonstrates farmers revolting.

After the Revolution, women, slaves, and loyalists experienced different extents of change in society. Women trained during the revolution and they also introduce values of justice and freedom in their children. According to Document A, in a woodcut of a patriot woman, a woman is depicted carrying a rifle and a gunpowder horn representing how women had significant roles in society by accompanying the soldiers, and also fighting alongside with them in the revolution. However, after the revolution, women wanted to play a larger role in society instead of reverting back to household chores. In Document J, Molly Wallace says, “if to read, why not speak?” This demonstrates how women wanted to further their domestic roles. For slaves, there was change in society, depending on the region.



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