Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The American Revolution was a product and a symbol of the Age of Reason, a period in which Western philosophical and political thought focused on the so-called rights of man. For the Americans, however, winning their freedom on the battlefield brought the even more complex task of using that freedom to unite thirteen former colonies under a legitimate form of government that would open the road for a new nation with new political goals. While the war brought about a necessary unity among the new states, it also hid a number of disagreements that flared up once the hostilities ended.
The Continental Congress that convened in November of 1777 adopted the Articles of Confederation, codifying a government for the thirteen states. This first attempt at a government proved insufficient, however. It embodied a mode of separatism that prevented the states from taking advantage of their geography, their natural resources, or their growth in population—or from satisfying their need for security. The states needed to be molded into a cohesive and loyal nation. Realizing that the Articles of Confederation created a national government that lacked the authority the new nation needed, the Congress appointed a Constitutional Convention to create a new document that would be the basis of a new government. When the Congress received the completed Constitution on September 20, 1787, another kind of battle was engaged, this one between the Federalists, who favored the...
(The entire section is 1487 words.)
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