Chapter six summery
Defining Republican Culture
Republican not a political party, but a political culture during the eighteenth century.
In the uncertain political atmosphere American were divided over the importance of liberty versus the importance of order.
During the 1780s persons of extraordinary talent focused their creative energies on how republicans should govern themselves.
Living in the Shadow of Revolution
Revolution changed American society.
Raised fundamental questions about equality in American society.
1. Social and Political reform
Americans denounced any traces of aristocratic pretense.
Washington formed society of the Cincinnati to maintain old friendships, but republicans companied about this.
Republican ferment also encouraged many states to lower property requirements for voting.
The most important changes in voting patterns were the result of western migration.
Americans reexamined the relationship between church and state.
2. African Americans in the New Republic
Revolutionary fervor forced Americans to confront the most appalling contradiction to republican principles-- slavery.
During the Revolution period, abolitionist sentiment spread.
By keeping the issue of slavery in public eye through writing and petitioning, African Americans undermined arguments advanced in favor of human bondage.
The scientific accomplishments of Benjamin Baker, Maryland's first African American astronomer and mathematician, Boston's celebrated "African muse," made increasingly difficult for white Americans to maintain credibility that African Americans could not hold their own in a free society.
In the Northern states, there was no real economic justification for slavery, and white laborers, often recent European immigrants, resented having to compete in the workplace against slaves.
In several states north of Virginia, the abolition of slavery took a number of different forms.
Some of these developments were: Vermont drafting a constitution that specifically prohibited slavery, Pennsylvania legislature passing a law effecting the gradual emancipation of slavery, and a Massachusetts state judge ruled slavery unconstitutional.
These positive developments did not mean that white people accepted blacks as equals.
Even in the south where African Americans made up a large percentage of the population , slavery disturbed thoughtful white republicans.
Despite promising starts in the freeing of slaves ,the southern states did not abolish slavery.
3. The Challenge of women's rights
The Revolutionary experience accelerated changes in the way ordinary people viewed the family.
In this changing intellectual environment that American women began making new demands not only on their husbands but also on republican institutions.
Women justified their assertiveness largely on the basis of political ideology.
During this period women began to petition for divorce on new grounds.
Despite scattered gains, republican society still defined women's roles as exclusively in terms of mother, wife, and homemaker.
The States: Experiments in Republicanism
In May 1776, the Second Continental Congress invited the states to adopted constitutions.
Several constitutions were boldly experimental, and some states later rewrote documents that had been drafted in the first flush of independence.
1. Blueprints for state Government
Despite differences over details, Americans who wrote the various state constitution shared certain political assumptions.
However logical the decision to produce written documents may have seemed to Americans, it represented a major break with English practices.
2. Natural Rights and the State Constitutions
The authors of the state constitution believed men and women possessed certain natural rights over which government exercised no control whatsoever.
In almost every state, delegates to constitution conventions drastically reduced the power of the governor.