States cherished their new freedom from British control, and ratification of the Constitution by state legislatures was by no means certain. All thirteen states finally ratified by 1790, but only with the addition of ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, that guaranteed citizens' rights and freedoms.
What is the difference between a liberty and a right? Both words appear in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. The distinction between the two has always been blurred, and today the concepts are often used interchangeably. However, they do refer to different kinds of guaranteed protections.
They were the ones who were not afraid. They knew instinctively that talk and politics alone would not bring an end to British tyranny. They were willing to resort to extralegal means if necessary to end this series of injustices. They were American patriots northern and southern, young and old, male and female. They were the Sons and Daughters of Liberty.
Volumes and volumes of written work was emerging in the American colonies on the subject of British policies. Apart from major documents and publications, much writing had been produced as letters, pamphlets, and newspaper editorials. The arguments set forth in this way were at times very convincing. American patriots of the 1770s did not have modern means of communication at their disposal. To spread the power of the written word from town to town and colony to colony, Committees of Correspondence were established.
In the summer that followed Parliament's attempt to punish Boston, sentiment for the patriot cause increased dramatically. The printing presses at the Committees of Correspondence were churning out volumes.
During the war years, those Americans not involved in warfare were doing their best just trying to survive. Farmers continued to grow food, artisans continued to practice their trades, and merchants attempted to maintain their businesses. Despite efforts to maintain business as usual, the entire social landscape was changed.
While the previous explorations of African American and white female experience suggest both the gains and limitations produced in the Revolutionary Era, from the perspective of almost all Native Americans the American Revolution was an unmitigated disaster. At the start of the war Patriots worked hard to try and ensure Indian neutrality, for Indians could provide strategic military assistance that might decide the struggle. Gradually, however, it became clear to most native groups, that an independent America posed a far greater threat to their interests and way of life than a continued British presence that restrained American westward expansion.
The Revolution succeeded for many reasons, but central to them was broad popular support for a social movement that opposed monarchy and the hereditary privilege. Diverse Americans rallied to the cause to create an independent American republic in which individuals would create a more equal government through talent and a strong commitment to the public good. Two groups of Americans most fully represented the independent ideal in this republican vision for the new nation: yeomen farmers and urban artisans.
The crisis of the 1780s was most intense in the rural and relatively newly settled areas of central and western Massachusetts. Many farmers in this area suffered from high debt as they tried to start new farms. Unlike many other state legislatures in the 1780s, the Massachusetts government didn't respond to the economic crisis by passing pro-debtor laws (like forgiving debt and printing more paper money). As a result local sheriffs seized many farms and some farmers who couldn't pay their debts were put in prison.
Since 1492, European explorers and settlers have tended to ignore the vast diversity of the people who had previously lived here. It soon became common to lump all such groups under the term "Indian." In the modern American world, we still do. There are certain experiences common to the survivors of these tribes. They all have had their lands compromised in some way and suffered the horrors of reservation life.
When the British set foot on the North American continent at Jamestown, they encountered the Powhatan Indians. The Pequots and Narragansetts lived in New England as the Pilgrims and Puritans established a new home. William Penn encountered the Leni Lenape natives while settling "Penn's Woods." Although these tribes have great differences, they are linked linguistically. All of these tribes (or nations) speak an Algonquin language. These Algonkian (or Algonquian) groups were the first the English would encounter as these early settlements began to flourish.
The American Industrial Revolution, concentrated in the northeast, would ultimately prove to be the most significant force in the development of the modern United States. This economic innovation sprung primarily from necessity. New England's agricultural economy was the poorest in the country and that helped to spur experimentation there. Meanwhile, the far more fertile southern states remained fully committed to agriculture as the central source of its wealth, here, too, dramatic changes created a wholly new economy that would have been unrecognizable to late-18th century Americans.
During the era of the "cult of domesticity," a woman was seen merely as a way of enhancing the social status of her husband. By the 1830s and 40s, however, the climate began to change when a number of bold, outspoken women championed diverse social reforms of prostitution, capital punishment, prisons, war, alcohol, and, most significantly, slavery.
At the dawn of the 20th century, nine out of ten African Americans lived in the South. Jim Crow laws of segregation ruled the land. The Supreme Court upheld the power of the Southern states to create two "separate but equal" societies with its 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson opinion. It would be for a later Supreme Court to judge that they fell short of the "equal" requirement.