The revolution period created change in the American society because people demanded socio-political freedom. Given that the American Revolution in the late eighteenth century marked the American Independence from the British, Americans wanted to enjoy freedom from any form of control (Hunt 139). The elites in the society denounced theocratic rule. For example, John Locke opposed the idea that people should be loyal to the crown because it symbolized a form of divine power or rule. Instead, most elites in the society wanted a democratic government that served the needs of the people and not oppressing them by taking their rights. Though an egalitarian government seemed desirable for a moment, the wealthy and elites refuted the idea because they wanted a form of hierarchy integrated in the system (Hunt 144). This means that the elite and wealthy people in the society wanted to hold more power in order to maintain their status and influence in the society. This paper shows how the revolutionary period struggled with the idea of an egalitarian society when it came to blacks and slaves in America.
The Enlightenment period projected freedom and equal rights as a rational ideology that would be perfect for a democratic society. However, after America gained its independence from the British people in the 18th century, the elites and wealth wanted to maintain social hierarchy in the society to project status quo. The elites and the wealthy did not want to be equalized to the poor or the minority in the society (Lualdi 108). The Declaration of Independence would have to be compromised because people could not be at par despite reinforcing a democratic society. For example, during the American Revolution period, only white elite men had a right to vote. Given that the elites made the laws in the country, they believed that the poor and non-educated people in the society could not vote intelligently as required by the constitution (Hunt 89). In addition, people of color were regarded as minorities and could not be equated to the white male elites. Thus, the American Revolution was pro-democracy but did not exercise it. The African Americans could not be granted natural rights because the elites believed that it was not rational for them to vote or be part of the greater society because of their phenotype.
Given that the American Revolution symbolized Independence for all American people, the African Americans were not considered to be part of an egalitarian society. However, this notion was divided in the nation because the Northern states freed the slaves whereas the Southern states were pro-slavery in the 18th century (Lualdi 187). The American Revolution paved way for the formation of the first Congress in the US whereby the national government abolished slavery. Regardless of the national government abolishing slavery, slavery as an institution heightened during the American Revolution which is ironical because the revolution stood for Independence and not more slavery. The national government banned slavery in the US in the 18th century. However, only the Northern states conferred to freeing slaves which was contrary to the Southern states. Slavery was indispensable in the South because of the big plantations that required manual labor. The African Americans were a good source of cheap labor that brought economic success to most plantation owners in the South thereby, expanding slavery as an institution despite its abolition. This shows that the American Revolution brought independence to the greater society but expanded slavery as an institution.
Hunt, Lynn Avery, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Smith. The making of the west: peoples and cultures.. 3. ed. Boston [u.a.: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. Print.
Lualdi, Katharine J.. Sources of The Making of the West: peoples and cultures. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012. Print.