American Revolution Impact on Colonial Society Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2607 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

American Revolution had far ranging effects not only in Colonial America but also throughout the rest of 18th Century society. These effects started slowly but eventually transcended nearly every aspect of life in America and spread to Europe.

The changes that occurred subsequent to the American Revolution began long before the actual conflict. Great Britain had established a fairly loose approach in regard to the day-to-day management of the American colonies and, as a result, the American colonists enjoyed far more liberties than most people throughout the world and their taxes were the lowest of any of Great Britain's other colonial holdings. Against, this background, however, protest and, eventually, revolution was fostered.

In the process that gradually progressed into an actual rebellion, there were fervent attempts by most of the founding fathers to reach a compromise with the British monarch and Parliament. Although there were a variety of issues, the colonists would have likely been satisfied with effective representation in Parliament but this possibility was never forthcoming and the colonists became frustrated by the lack of progress in this area.

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TOPIC: Research Paper on American Revolution Impact on Colonial Society Assignment

One of the initial changes was the concept of egalitarianism (Wood, 1993). Prior to the Revolution, society in America mirrored the condition present in Europe where society was divided into classes and there was a clear line of demarcation between the classes. With the outbreak of the Revolution, both the wealthy and poor were joined together in an effort to rid the Colonies of what the colonists believed was monarchial oppression. This forced combination was the beginning of a generalized idea in the equality of all men. In time, family background and income became less important and opportunities began opening up for those who worked hard or were able to develop new ideas. This egalitarianism, unfortunately, applied only to white Americans as Blacks and Native Indians continued to be excluded but it was a major step forward as it marked a radical change from the rigid class structure of 18th century Europe (Holton, 1999).

This exclusion applied particularly to Blacks living on American soil. Slavery continued to be an important economic consideration in the South and in formation of the new government the Southern states were adamant about protecting the institution of slavery The South's economy depended heavily upon slavery continuing so while the North is rapidly ridding its borders of slavery the South was advancing in the opposite direction by increasing its level of reliance on the institution. There were a number of Southern politicians such as Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry who fought to develop a system that would gradually abolish the practice of slavery but their arguments fell largely on deaf ears. Jefferson and Henry both realized that a sudden abolishment of slavery would stall the South's economy and neither advocated an immediate abolishment. This proved to be the case following the end of the Civil War and the retention of slavery allowed the South to develop economically following the Revolution but it also planted the seed for problems that would eventually result in the American Civil War.

The effect of the Revolution on Native Americans was negative as well. The results of the Revolution meant that there would be increased pressure on the colonial borders as more and more settlers began to establish communities in areas formerly occupied by Native American tribes. Prior to the Revolution, the monarch and Parliament had restricted colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains but once the War ended these restrictions were removed and the settlers entered territory that was previously allocated to Native Americans. As more and more new settlements were being developed the pressure on the Native Americans increased and the conflicts between the two societies intensified. Relationships between the United States and the Native American tribes worsened over the intervening years and resulted in the young nation's participation in government sanctioned relocation movements that pushed the Native Americans tribes farther and farther west.

Settlers attempting to expand the borders of the United States also had to contend with the continued presence of British and Spanish military forces on the frontier. The British in particular contributed to the Native American problem by supporting them in their efforts to stall frontier development by American settlers.

Acerbating the economic problems of the new nation was the large national debt created by the war. The colonies were forced to borrow millions from the French and Dutch governments in an attempt to finance the war against Great Britain. In addition, the new government had issued bonds that citizens were now clamoring for payment as they became due.

In response to financial pressures, the individual states began developing their own currencies and, as a result, travel from state to state was difficult and these new currencies were not accepted by foreign governments who demanded payment in gold and silver. This process created confusion and uncertainty for the new nation. Prior to the Revolution the economy of the colonies were financially supported by the British government but the founding fathers of the new nation failed to adequately provide for the financial future of the colonies. For a period of a number of years the American economy teetered on the edge of depression and resulted in the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first governing document to be abandoned, and a new Constitution being drafted that provided greater powers to the national government. Powers that enabled the government to effectuate changes that eventually led to a stronger monetary structure for the country's economy and provided to financial security.

The Revolution also signaled the end of mercantilism as an economic system as it related to the former American colonies. Prior to the Revolution the colonies were required to do all trading through Great Britain. The Revolution ended this requirement and the colonies were now free to trade with other nations. This development had both positive and negative effects. Although the new nation was now free to trade with nations other than Great Britain, it also, for a period of time, lost the profits from loss trade in products such as rice, indigo, and tobacco that were bought in large amounts from the America. The new country had tremendous resources in the form of land and cheap labor due to the existence of slavery that enabled it to prosper.

Within a few short years the new American economy began take advantage of its opportunities by exporting its surplus products. The exporting led to a corresponding growth in the nation's shipping industry. This growth allowed the young nation to begin paying back its heavy war debt. As they did so, they also established themselves as a good credit risk in the international marketplace, and using this good credit to their advantage American businessmen saw their share of international trade increase.

The different regions of the United States did not benefit equally from the country's surge in business. The industrial North due to climatic and environmental factors was never able to successfully develop agriculturally but its abundant source of water and good, deep water ports afforded the region the opportunity to develop a strong industrial base. Meanwhile, the South enjoyed the climate and good soil that the North did not and, therefore, the South based its economy on agriculture. The result was that the South's economy was based primarily on the less profitable farming industry while the North prospered from the export of the South's agricultural products and its own growing textile mills. These economic differences became an additional source of friction between the two areas and would manifest themselves in the years following the Revolution and would play a significant part in the North being able to defeat the South in the American Civil War.

The Revolution also resulted in social changes. The democratic form of government in the United States abolished the use of aristocratic titles. Instead of a monarchy and nobility that was positioned in authority by the luck of birth, the new United States was destined to be governed by elected representatives. A concept that had been tried before but not on the scale set forth by the U.S. Constitution. Separation of Church and State was a proposal that was unique in the world when the founding fathers incorporated it into the U.S. Constitution. Traditionally, this had not been the case but it also eliminated the process of the Church paying taxes on the lands that they owned.

The role of women in society was also affected by the Revolution (Zagarri, 2007). Prior to the War the role of women in the colonies mirrored the situation that had existed throughout most of Europe. In society's ruled by monarchies the need for an educated populous is minimized. The monarchy determines what the needs of the general population are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "American Revolution Impact on Colonial Society" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

American Revolution Impact on Colonial Society.  (2011, July 19).  Retrieved September 18, 2021, from

MLA Format

"American Revolution Impact on Colonial Society."  19 July 2011.  Web.  18 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"American Revolution Impact on Colonial Society."  July 19, 2011.  Accessed September 18, 2021.