Chapter 6 “The Revolution Within” Voices of Freedom, by Eric Foner. Identify three of the most significant social changes that resulted from the American Revolution

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First, we should note that Voices of Freedom is a document reader accompanying Give Me Liberty, a textbook by Eric Foner. In chapter six of this textbook, Foner shows that, overall, the Revolution opened the way for political struggles for increased freedoms and liberties for many Americans, even if the potential of this process was not fully realized in the Revolutionary era itself. So the process of extending freedoms to a variety of peoples was one major social change. Many states lowered property qualifications to allow, given the relatively widespread property ownership at the time, more white males to vote. Pennsylvania, for example, allowed all men who paid a poll tax to vote. Foner illustrates the debates over freedom for ordinary whites through "Thoughts on Government," a treatise on government by John Adams that was critical of the Pennsylvania constitution.

Another important social change highlighted by Foner was the establishment of religious tolerance in most states. The primary example of this phenomenon was Virginia, which passed, after considerable struggle, a statute for religious freedom. This law essentially banned religious establishment in Virginia. While not all states immediately followed suit, most extended legal toleration to Catholics and various dissenting sects.

Another significant social change that accompanied the Revolution was its effect on slavery. Tens of thousands of enslaved men and women had left their plantations, following the British army in search of freedom. Foner illustrates their struggle through documents including a petition from a group of Massachusetts slaves that argues for emancipation on the same grounds that colonists were protesting what they perceived as British tyranny. The degree to which their aspirations were often quashed by the new nation is shown by a document in which George Washington orders the return of escaped slaves to their owners.

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