Student Question

Describe the state governments created during and after the Revolution and their democratic nature.

Expert Answers

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Historians generally say that the governments created in the states after the Revolutionary War were very democratic.  In fact, many more conservative Americans felt that the state governments during the time of the Confederation were too democratic.  This is why they called for a new constitution and set up the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

The state governments were, in general, quite democratic.  Almost all of them had bills of rights in which they explicitly listed rights upon which the government could not infringe.  (Of course, these rights were not extended to non-white people and many rights were not extended to women.)  Protection of people‚Äôs rights is a major aspect of democracy.  The state governments also tended to give very little power to governors.  Instead, they gave the power to the legislatures.  These legislatures were elected by the people, or at least by white men.  It is clear that many of these governments were not beholden to elites.  Many early state governments passed laws that clearly helped the poorer people at the expense of the rich.  This was one of the major reasons why many conservative and wealthy Americans were so concerned with conditions in the country and wanted a new constitution.

Thus, we can clearly say that the early state governments were quite democratic for their time.  We would not see them as very democratic today because they did not give rights to groups like blacks and women, but they were very democratic for their time.

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