Consider the momentous years between 1775 and 1800. What main issue did the Revolutionary War resolve? What issues did the 1787 Constitution resolve? By placing some groups (who?) outside the...

Consider the momentous years between 1775 and 1800. What main issue did the Revolutionary War resolve? What issues did the 1787 Constitution resolve? By placing some groups (who?) outside the “political community,” to what degree did the Framers create future tensions and social conflicts?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Revolution and the writing of the Constitution were both very important events in the history of the United States.  However, the writing of the Constitution resolved many more issues than the Revolutionary War did.  This is not surprising given that the Constitution set up a new system of government while the war really just broke down an old system.

The Revolution only resolved one issue.  It decided whether the colonists would win their independence from the United Kingdom.  It did not resolve issues within the new United States.  For example, it did not decide which groups of the former colonists would have more or less power.  It did not decide what sort of government the new country would have or what sort of relationship the various states would have with one another.  In other words, this was “just” a revolution that overthrew a government, not an event that shaped a new system of government and society.

In contrast to the Revolution, the writing of the Constitution really did create a whole new system.  It resolved many issues, even if some of the issues it tried to resolve would come back to haunt the US in later years.  It decided that the national government would be strong and the state governments would be relatively weak.  It decided that the US would have an indirect democracy and that the “common people” in the states would not have as much power as they had under the Articles of Confederation.   This meant that it decided that elites would have more power, at least at first, than the common people did.

With regard to the last part of your question, I would argue that the Constitution did not really create future tensions and social conflicts.  Those social conflicts and tensions already existed to some extent.  What the Constitution did was to prevent them from becoming major issues in 1787.  It pushed the issues down the road and left them to be dealt with by future generations.  For example, it excluded African Americans from the political community by allowing slavery.  This helped lead to the abolition movement and the Civil War.  It also excluded women from the political community.  This helped lead to the conflict between proponents and opponents of women’s rights that began in the 1840s and continued for decades (and arguably continues today).  The Constitution did not create these issues.  It is more accurate to say that it dodged them so that the country could united behind the Constitution and save these divisive issues for later.

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