Revolutionary Changes

  1. Mobilizing the people

    1. Joining the battle

      1. One-third to one-half of all white males participated in the war

      2. Initially recruits came from all classes, but increasingly the poor made up most of the ranks

    2. African Americans in the war

      1. As many as 20% of slaves sought freedom behind British lines, many fighting for Britain

      2. Scattered slaves uprisings in response to American talk of liberty, and British promises of freedom

      3. Many used the confusion to escape north or into Amerindian territory

    3. Civilians in War

      1. Occupation by British, destruction in battle disputed urban life in many cities

      2. Civilians experienced severe shortages because of trade disruption and seizure of goods by armies

      3. Thousands of refuges fled to the interior

      4. Smallpox and other diseases spread rapidly, killing thousands

    4. Propaganda and political mobilization

      1. Politics consumed peoples lives and newspapers an pamphleteers multiplied

      2. Baptist, Congregational, and Presbyterian pastors preached that the Revolution was the will of God

      3. Some believed the Second Coming was at hand

      4. Patriot mobs rioted and attacked Loyalist targets, frequently out of anger over poverty, government restrictions and privileges of the aristocracy

  2. A Republican Ideology

    1. In rejecting monarchy, the revolutionaries rejected the idea of a natural aristocracy

    2. Monarchy was based on the idea that the King, appointed by God, was owed obedience by the people in exchange for the protection he gave them

    3. The new republicanism held that the people created government by contracting together for their mutual good

      1. the people must have oversight over the power of government or it will become tyrannical

      2. Public virtue - in republicanism,  order and stability would be maintained by individuals putting the public good ahead of personal interest

      3. Factional conflict should be avoided, since faction put the interest of party ahead of that of the nation

    4. After the war, there was a broad consensus that government must be grounded in the consent of the people, but no consensus of what that meant

      1. The poor and small farmers took this to mean that there should be complete political equality

      2. Many in the upper classes felt that only an "aristocracy of talent" could give the people the needed direction an maintain order

    5. State constitutions written during and right after the war embodied many of these issues

      1. Constitutions would be written by elected assemblies, and were seen as embodying the sovereign will of the people

      2. Governments designed to function within clearly defined limits

      3. Much more democratic than old colonial governments - large assemblies, more wide spread voting rights, frequent elections