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?The American Revolution: Revolutionary or Not?
In determining whether or not the American Revolution was a true revolution,
one must clearly define the term ?revolution?. Historians believe that for a war to
be deemed a revolution it must encompass social, religious, economic, and
intellectual dimensions as well as political change. I believe that the American
Revolution conclusively exhibited all of these dimensions.
Socially, America began with modern values unlike those of their British
ancestry. The moral of equality was the foundation on which our nation began.
When the tension grew between the colonies and England, the new ideology spread
and began to widen to include almost all people. First, people began to realize that
they did not necessarily live in a way which modeled their belief in equality. This,
in itself shows the beginnings of a true revolution in that the people begin to see the
need for change even within their own families, social groups, and lifestyles. After
recognizing changes were needed, transformations began to occur in the colonies.
For instance, a new position for women as upright citizens and leaders of the society
emerged, and most states granted women equality of inheritance. Also, social
distinctions such as status-seating at church and membership to private social clubs
were attacked and diminished. People began referring to themselves as Mr. or
Mrs., terms that illustrated the equality of all people, regardless of class or prestige.
In addition, because most men were allowed a vote, education of the population
became a priority. Nationalism spread as the people of America came to understand
their common goals and needs. The concept of constituent power allowed for social
changes also, as the people came to believe that the power rested in the will of the
people, which caused them to gain self trust and esteem. People focused so much
on equality and the rights of all people that in the south, several states passed laws
which repressed the importation of slaves and made it easier to free slaves; in the
north, slavery was outlawed in most states, and abolitionist groups arose.
During the Revolution, the American people also formed new intellectual
standpoints. The most respected thinkers of the time began to shift their focus to
concentrate on creating political change. Men such as Ben Franklin, and other
inventors theologists, and philosophers began to focus on concerns such as
economic growth, constitutional revision, and westward expansion, rather than
philosophy and theology. Many scientific magazines began to be published and
new scientific organizations formed. Secular concerns became priority over
Established religion harvested change during the Revolution, also. During the
war, because of the violence and stress of the time, religious fervor decreased, and
church membership dwindled to seven percent. But, positive changes occurred also
,such as the passing of bills which provided for religious freedom, and the removal
of religious restrictions once stipulated for voting and office-holding. The ideals of
equality had spread even to the religious aspect of colonial life.
The economic status of America also greatly transformed during the
Revolutionary period. There was an extensive rise in banking and a spread of
incorporation. Negative effects of the revolution such as confiscation and
redistribution of Tory land holdings to wealthy Americans also occurred. But, the
new ideals of the people promoted American manufacturing, and societies arose
which advocated protective legislation and directed the economy inward to focus on
All in all, America was transformed during the revolution. Politically, the
colonies broke away from British rule, forged a new life as a united nation, fought
for equality of all men and formed a constitution which has been the cornerstone of
American society for over two hundred years. Moreover, the entire structure of
American economy and society was revolutionized to promote the common goals a
newly united people.
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