Of The War
The end of the Revolutionary War brought independence for 13 American
states. How Americans would use their newfound freedom was not immediately
certain. Between 1776 and 1780, the states wrote new constitutions
or changed their old charters to become republics.
When the alliance of the states under the Articles
of Confederation proved inadequate, a convention in 1787 produced
the Constitution, which remains our governmental framework. The
Constitution settled many issues and formed a stronger union of
the states, but it also contained contradictions that would echo
through our history. Flying in the face of the Declaration of Independence's
statement of human equality, the Constitution protected African-American
In the English-speaking world of 1787, few
even entertained the possibility that women possessed equal political
or economic rights. Much of American history after 1776 represents
a struggle to extend full citizenship to white males without property,
to people of color, and to women.
For Indians, the formation of the United States
only increased the flow of white settlers onto their lands and led
to more clashes. An acknowledgement of the Revolution's deferred
promises, however, should not blind us to its far-reaching effects.
The republican form of government, with all its powers grounded
in the consent of the people, was practiced nowhere else in 1776.
Later revolutions in France, Hispaniola
(present-day Haiti), and throughout Latin America drew inspiration
from the American Revolution. Once adopted by the United States,
the ideals of liberty and self-government would have future effects
never imagined by the original revolutionaries.
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