The American Revolution was undoubtedly a success in its immediate aims of ending British rule and establishing a system of republican self-government. It was less successful, however, in putting republican principles into practice. The biggest stumbling block was slavery.
As British critics of the American colonists never tired of pointing...
out, demands for liberty sounded pretty strange coming from slave-owners. To be sure, many among the American political elite understood that slavery was something of an anomaly in a nation supposedly founded on liberty and equality; indeed, many slave-owning politicians felt the same way. But for one reason or another they were unable to square the circle.
The states had just thrown off the shackles of British rule and formed themselves into a loose confederation. The last thing anyone wanted was for the new arrangement to be jeopardized by squabbles over slavery. If concerted action had been taken to end slavery then it's almost certain that the Southern states would've seceded, thus plunging the new nation into the mother of all constitutional crises. As no one really wanted that, the problem of slavery was left for later generations to deal with, with tragic consequences. This inability to deal with the fraught issue of slavery is one legacy of the American Revolution that was emphatically not a success.