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Significant social changes resulting from the American Revolution


The American Revolution led to significant social changes, including the rise of republicanism, increased political participation, and challenges to traditional social hierarchies. It promoted ideals of liberty and equality, leading to gradual changes such as the abolition of slavery in Northern states and greater advocacy for women's rights. The revolution also fostered a sense of American identity and unity.

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What are the three most important social changes from the American Revolution?

The three most important social changes due to the American Revolution were the migration of Loyalists, more political equality, and religious freedom.

The Loyalists made up about one-third of the population of the rebellious colonies. Their devotion to England put them in a precarious position. Thousands fought for the British. Others fled to the safety of the British lines. Their property was confiscated by the colonies. Thousands left America, and most of them ended up in Canada. Their exodus had both social and economic impacts.

The war made the new country more democratic. Those men who fought together against the British expected equality in the new nation. After 1776, property qualifications required for voting were relaxed. One key reason for the war was the colonists' dislike of taxation without representation, and that sentiment carried over into the postwar era. In addition, more commoners began serving in state legislatures.

A third change ushered in by the war was increased religious freedom. The nascent country moved toward separation of church and state. The state of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson championed this cause. In 1786, the Virginia legislature passed Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom. Also, the First Amendment to the US Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion.

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Identify three significant social changes resulting from the American Revolution.

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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