In what ways did the American Revolution not support all people in America?

1 Answer

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The American Revolution was a very complex event that affected different people in different ways. Some benefited from it tremendously, others not at all, and it was a negative development for others. The best way to answer this question is to understand that different people were involved in the Revolution for different reasons. The merchants and lawyers that served in the Continental Congress by and large did not see the Revolution as an event that ought to lead to democratic government. Rather, they assumed that they would be in charge of the governments that emerged from the Revolution. On the other hand, many ordinary people wanted land, debt relief, increased representation, and other demands from the Revolution. Many women hoped for expanded political rights. Many African-Americans hoped to cash in on the rhetoric of the Revolution. Some others, including many enslaved peoples, sided with the British during the war because they saw them as friendlier to their interests. This was especially true for Native Americans, who could not help but see the Revolution as a disaster. 

After a period of ten years or so in which many state governments experimented with remarkably democratic constitutions (especially Pennsylvania) the Constitution essentially reined in what was seen by many of the elites who had been Revolutionary leaders as excessive liberties. The new national government was to be dominated by such men. On the other hand, some changes due to the Revolution, especially the acquisition of land in the West, ultimately proved very beneficial to small farmers and other ordinary Americans. But this was, in turn, bad for Native Americans and, in the old Southwest, for enslaved people who would work the land. The point here is that the Revolution did not benefit everyone because everyone did not have the same interests when it broke out.