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HIS121 Unit 2: The American Paradox

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Noah Cincinnati

on 2 December 2018

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Transcript of HIS121 Unit 2: The American Paradox

Revolution and the Boundaries of Liberty in the New Republic,
New York
New Hampshire
New Jersey
North Carolina
South Carolina
Ohio Valley
The Post-French and Indian War Crisis (2):
Financial and Political Costs for the British Empire
King George III
British Goals:

Refinance the Empire (Britain in debt by 150 million pounds).

Reassert political authority over the colonies.
British Canada
Great Britain
The New Conceptions of Freedom within the British Empire
But the vastness of the British Empire by the 1700s complicated these traditional relationships between taxation, liberty, and representational democracy:

The Parliament embraced a new doctrine of
"Virtual Representation"
throughout the Empire.
The American Paradox:
Taxation without Representation
Renewed Mercantilism
The Growth of Political Radicalism

In response, political activism and radicalism spread, especially in port cities, such as Boston:

Stamp Act Congress
successfully argued to revoke the stamp taxes.

Boycotts of British goods in the ports and a "homemade goods"
movement were designed to express the American rage towards mercantilism.

Boston Sons of Liberty
organized dramatic acts of political resistance--
feeling increasingly disenfranchised, radicals occasionally turned to political violence.

The British Clamp Down:

Enraged, the British Government sought to reassert its authority in a dramatic way:

Port of Boston closed to all trade--the city was effectively under military occupation.

Town meetings prohibited, freedom of association curtailed, and Royal governors empowered to appoint loyal local officials.

Quartering Act authorized British troops to forcibly lodge in private colonial residences.

These acts not only appeared a violation of liberal freedom and virtue, they began to undermine the consumption privileges of colonists.

Restoring their Rights:
Delegates from 12 colonies sought unity and to restore their full rights as British citizens.

Congress halted all trade with Britain
, called up local militias, and formed local committees to organize.

Radical delegates from Virginia and Massachusetts left greatly dissatisfied.

Lexington and Concord (April 1775)
Battle of Breed's (or Bunker) Hill (June 1775)
The Second Continental Congress (1775-1776)
June 1775: Congress authorized the raising and funding of a Continental Army with George Washington appointed its commander.

August 1775: Final attempts to secure peace fail as British did not respond to the "Olive Branch petition"--
King George declared colonies in open rebellion.
The Debates over Independence
Colonial Tensions
By early 1776, hundreds of counties, communities, and even some states issued their own declarations of independence.

Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" (1776):

The British constitutional monarchy had lost legitimacy.

An independent American nation could rule itself through virtue, freely trade with the world, and insulate itself from European imperial wars.

America could be an
"asylum for mankind."

With over 150,000 copies sold, Paine's ideas further spread the notion of independence, putting increased pressure on the Second Continental Congress to act.
The Declaration of Independence, July 2-4, 1776
Pontiac's Rebellion and the Proclamation of 1763
Ethnic diversity (especially in New York and Pennsylvania) complicated unity--Quaker pacifists, Germans, Dutch, Scotch-Irish, Catholics.

Loyalty to England in some colonies (especially S. Carolina).

Reluctance to break away and fear that revolution could destabilize colonial societies from within.

Initially, PA and SC would vote against independence, but would later reverse course. NY would ultimately abstain.
No Representation without Taxation:
Understanding the Role of Taxation in British Democracy
Beginning in the 1200s, the rise of the English Parliament led to the borrowing of money from English nobility.

To pay back those loans, the Parliament also began to tax--not just the wealthy, but various sectors of English society.

Since their money was vested in the government, representational democracy and the support for taxation became critical to English nobles.

By the 1700s, taxation was entrenched within the British system as critical to representational democracy.
The Slavery Problem
The core idealism of the Revolution revealed the fundamental paradox on the issue of slavery. Some considered these paradoxes, while others were not ready to end the institution.

The Southern colonies refused to deploy their militias north for the cause--
they feared it would leave them vulnerable to slave rebellions.

The Lord Dunmore Proclamation (Nov. 1775):

Governor of Virginia declared martial law and that all slaves who joined the Royal cause would be granted freedom--Virginia slaveholders were enraged.

Through the war, some states would enlist free blacks and slaves (some 5,000 in total), with some being awarded freedom for service.
But many American slaveholders remained deeply fearful of arming black men.

A Government in Name Only:
The Articles of Confederation (1781-1787)
Original Intent of the Articles
Articles' Success:
The Land Ordinances (1784-1787)
Early National Crisis
Articles' Weakness and Economic Recession
Catalyst for a New Constitution:
Shays' Rebellion (1786-1787)
Daniel Shays, a war veteran and farmer, led debt-ridden farmers in western MA to storm local courts to prevent the seizure of their lands--the state violently put down the rebellion.

The rebellion worried many elites and legislators--
the Articles government had enabled a chaotic environment, declining economy, and could not enforce the rule of law.

Sept. 1786: Convention of various states agreed to end the Articles and meet in Philadelphia to build a new government.
The Constitutional Convention,
Philadelphia, May-Sept. 1787

From 12 states, 55 men of prominence, education, and wealth (lawyers, merchants, slaveholder planters, etc.).

Half the delegates had a college education (at a time when fewer than 1/10 of 1% of Americans had college educations).

Many assumed the process should be tightly controlled and kept out of public view:

Convention held in relative secret.

James Madison's detailed notes of the meetings were not published until 1840 (four years after he was the last delegate to pass away).
A Union of States:
The Separation of Powers or "Checks and Balances"
Article II:
The Executive (Presidency)
Article I:
The Legislative (Congress)
Article III:
The Judiciary (Supreme Court and Federal Court System)

The Constitutional Debates and American Slavery
As a document, the Constitution was a strong protector of the slavery institution (although the words "slave" and "slavery" were not originally included).

The Constitution prevented Congress from addressing the international slave trade for 20 years (which it would by abolishing it in 1808):

Addressed Lower South concerns about slavery's decline, but ensured that the import of African slaves would not be indefinite.

1788-1808: 170,000 Africans imported (mostly to GA and SC).

Average rate of import of Africans slaves to the colonies
(and later U.S.) per year:


Required all states, regardless of their laws regarding slavery, to return fugitive slaves to owners.

Ensured the "extraterritoriality" of states' slave laws--
the condition of bondage was attached to you even if you entered a state where slavery had been abolished.
The Three-Fifths Compromise
With their smaller free populations, Southern delegates worried that they would be underrepresented in the Congress.

To be counted for the purposes of Congressional representation, slaves were counted as 3/5 a human being.

Impact: Disproportionately increased the political power of Southern states and their voters by adding more Southern Congressional districts than actual voters.

(from 1789 to 1848, 12 of 16 Presidential elections resulted in a Southerner as President)
Why such profound compromises in the Constitution?
The Ratification Debates (1787-1788)
"The Federalist Papers" (1788):

The Anti-Federalists
Led by Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, and George Mason, the opponents to the Constitution
argued that human liberty depended upon as limited a central government as possible

Feared too much power in the hands of the few--believed the government would be dominated by the "well-born."

Citing the new government's power to direct state militias, Henry and Mason channeled Southern fears that the central government could free and even arm slaves.

Where is a "Bill of Rights"?
By the middle of 1788, 9 states had ratified. Ratification success due to a number of factors:

Overwhelming Federalist energy and organization.

In 1788, there were 92 newspapers in the U.S. Only 12 published Anti-Federalist writings.

Support for the Constitution was broad-based:
1780s witnessed the emergence of a coherent sense of American nationalism.

Many powerful Americans wanted stronger governance--
veterans, diplomats, bondholders, merchants, and manufacturers.

Although organized anti-Federalism was dead, its long-term legacy would live on through the subset of Americans who express fear of centralized government.
The Bill of Rights
The founding generation understood the Bill of Rights as a vital safeguard from potentially tyrannical government, but many also understood that the universal nature of these rights would have to be reinterpreted and reapplied for future generations.

After a majority of delegates signed the Constitution, it would only go into effect after 9 of 13 states held conventions to ratify the document.
It was not certain that it would be ratified.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees every state the ability to govern itself, maintain its sovereignty, and pass laws on behalf of its citizens.

But the supremacy clause requires all states to adhere to federal laws passed on behalf of all of them. Ultimately, federal authority is paramount.
Thomas Jefferson authored multiple laws to encourage westward settlement into the Ohio Valley, which he saw as vital to the survival of the new nation.

These laws auctioned off public land to private individuals and companies at bargain prices. The goal was to enable the creation of new states.

The Ordinances and Slavery:

1784: Jefferson needed one vote to make slavery illegal in all of the Western territories, but couldn't get it.

1787: The Northwest Ordinance prohibited slavery north of the Ohio River.
In doing so, the Articles government created a long-term problem.

Who were the delegates?
The Dynamics of the Convention Debates
Slavery's Constitution
1) Political:
Fear of disunion as some Southern delegates threatened to leave if slavery was not protected.

2) Economic:
Both North and South, there was a sense that the nation's early capitalist development depended upon the wealth produced by slave property.

3) "Necessary Evil": Fears of abolition's consequences:
Some believed that black freedom was simply impossible.

Fearful slaveholders argued that an immediate end to slavery would lead to a race war--that the security of white communities was at stake.

Recognizing the need and fearful that anti-Federalists would call for a second Constitutional Convention, James Madison led the effort to add a Bill of Rights.

Ultimately, 12 of his amendments passed the Congress, with 10 achieving ratification by the states in 1791.

Madison drew on numerous sources for inspiration, but the most important were the bills of rights in numerous state constitutions.

4) White Supremacy and the Paradoxes of the Enlightenment:

Can one's "property" rights trump another's right to own oneself?

Enlightenment expanded "scientific" understandings of race, cementing categories of difference and exclusion based on blood, ancestry, and phenotype--
to some of the founders, racial difference appeared rooted in natural law.

Thus, many whites believed only whites were fully capable of "reason." In other words, perhaps natural rights were not universal in nature.

Along with slavery, the very notions of citizenship were cemented as the unique right of white men (ex. 1790 Naturalization Act: only "free white men" were eligible for citizenship after immigrating to U.S.).
Building a New Republic, 1783-1791.
Fears of centralized authority led to the creation of a very limited government,
with most power reserved for the states

The government consisted of a one-house Congress with virtually no domestic power:

No ability to tax or regulate commerce (funding came through state contributions).

Legislation required 9 of 13 states' delegates to approve.

Amending the Articles required unanimous approval.
The Congress, the states, and ordinary citizens were all in massive debt due to wartime borrowing--most war veterans had not yet seen a single paycheck.

Without the power to tax or regulate commerce, the Articles was powerless to do anything:

States printed their own money and enacted their own tariffs, creating inflationary chaos in the process.

Some states delayed debt collections, while others accelerated them (such as Massachusetts).

Making Federal Governance:
Enforces federal law.
Execute administrative operations of the fed. gov.
Conducts diplomacy and war.
Two houses of legislators (Senate and House):
Each state has two Senators/
House of Representatives based on states' populations

Pass laws--including the power to tax and regulate commerce.
Confirms Executive appointments and ratifies treaties (Senate only).
Declares war.
Reviews the constitutionality of the nation's laws.
"The Tyranny of the Majority":
Limiting Democracy
Many Convention delegates feared popular uprisings, mob rule, and demagoguery.

They believed American democracy needed to be purposely deliberative with numerous filters between representatives and the people.

U.S. Senators originally chosen by state legislatures, not the people.

Federal judges appointed by the President, confirmed by Senate, and serve for life.

The Electoral College for choosing the President--each state has electoral votes based on total representatives in Congress.
Electors not required to vote the same as popular vote in a state.
The War for Independence, 1776-1783.
The Fabian Strategy:
Washington hoped that a decisive overwhelming victory could win the war, but he gradually concluded that a
war of attrition
(attacking British outposts, supply lines, and smaller British forces) could exhaust the British military.

It took a number of important lessons for Washington to embrace this strategy.

Battle of Brooklyn (August 1776)
The Turning Point:

The Battle of Saratoga (Oct. 1777)
News of the victory at Saratoga aided the U.S. delegation in Paris, reassuring the French that the American cause seemed possible.

The French agreed to a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1778
(French recognized the United States of America and promised French military assistance).

In the immediacy French military advisers and volunteers began to arrive to support Washington's campaign.

The eventual arrival of the French navy would prove crucial.

Loyalists made up 20-25% of the total colonial population, disproportionately in SC and GA:
20,000 Loyalists would ultimately served in the British military.

British occupation policies on slavery (freeing and arming slaves, confiscating slaves and selling to loyal owners) only further inflamed tensions.

Philipsburg Proclamation (1779)--British military offered freedom to any runaway slave (ultimately 80,000-100,000 did run away).

1778: The British invaded the Southern states in the hope of exposing the Loyalist divide.
As the occupation of the South dragged on, the British military became bogged down by the American militias' use of irregular warfare.
The Siege at Yorktown (August- Oct. 1781)
Treaty of Paris (1783)

1. Britain recognized the independence of the United States.

2. United States received all territory east of the Mississippi and in between Canada and Florida.

3. New England fishermen received fishing rights in the Atlantic off the coast of Canada.

4. U.S. agreed that all former loyalists would be free from persecution and would have their property restored.

One of the unsettled issues was the 15,000 slaves the British evacuated to freedom--ultimately, the British paid compensation to 1,100 American slaveholders.
The Revolution's Impact on the Nation's Sectional Divide
New England and Mid-Atlantic States:

Inspired by the Revolution's ideals, and less economically dependent on slavery, these states passed gradual abolition laws during the war.

Southern States:

British confiscation policies and Southerners' interpretation of Revolutionary ideology as a "property" ideology cemented Southern commitment to slavery.

The state of slavery by 1787:

The war had dramatically reduced the enslaved population (loss of 80,000-100,000 slaves), devastating the Lower South economies.

Growing movement of Americans wanted to eradicate the international slave trade (including many of the power Virginia founders).
An Active Colonial Body Politic
1) Land ownership = voting (50%-80% of adult white men vote in the colonies).

2) High literacy rates, active public sphere, and vibrant colonial press.

3) Rise of the Colonial Assemblies.
Historically, centralized authority within the British Empire was relatively weak.

This meant that local colonies, despite their status as "royal colonies," were afforded a great deal of local sovereignty.
A Statement of the Rights of Humankind:
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay composed a series of 85 essays in support of the Constitution.

Collectively, these essays gave articulation to the Constitution's meaning, offering the most foundational explanations of the U.S. system of self-government:

Separation of powers and federalism kept government in check.

Safeguards prevented foreign powers from interfering in American democracy.

System prevented "populist factions" from rising up and channeling irrational passions--provided power for the political majority, but also the political minority.

The Post-French and Indian War Crisis (1):
The Spread of Independence
Final Victory:
"Curbing the Excesses of Democracy"
The Origins of the American Political Tradition and Constitutional Institutions
The Founders saw the new United States as a revolutionary break from the decay of the Old World:

They despised the British system, which was dominated by the greed, corruption, and self interest of landlords, merchants, and hereditary nobility.

Inspired by Enlightenment liberalism and republicanism,
they believed that America's natural elite were free from economic and political coercion.

Thus, the body politic could trust this natural elite to govern for the betterment of the "commonweal" (the general welfare of the community or nation).
Creating the American Paradox:
Self-Evident Truths:
The Advent of Enlightenment Rationalism

1) Classical Liberalism:

Emphasizes the notion of
individual liberty
, property rights, and freedom from invasive government.

"social contract"
as critical to the rule of law and self-government.

2) Republicanism:

To maintain the Republic,
property-owning citizens must demonstrate their civic virtue by sacrificing some self-interest
for the welfare of the broader community and nation-state.

Reimagining Ancient Virtue
Revolutionary-Era Americans (especially elites and intellectuals) were obsessed with the histories and myths of Ancient Rome and Greece.

They often drew lessons that they thought applicable to the growing crisis within the British Empire.

Ex.: The legend of Cincinnatus.

The Crisis:
British admiralty courts' power expanded for the aggressive targeting of smugglers and revoking of jury trials.

1765: The Stamp Act
required printed materials in the colonies must carry a stamp purchased from the British government.

1766-1767: New round of taxes on consumer goods and issuing of warrants
to aggressively search ships for smuggling activity.
Birth of a Crisis:
The Tipping Point:
The Tea Issue
1773: British passed the Tea Act to bail out the financially irresponsible British East India Company:

Colonists were required to pay a new tax on the cheap tea being dumped on their markets.

Dec. 1773: Boston radicals held a "Boston Tea Party."
The Coercive (or Intolerable) Acts (1774)
The War Erupts:
No Turning Back:
The Fallout from Saratoga:

An Alliance with France
A Republic of Virtue:
The Founding Generation's View of History
The Antithesis of Civic Virtue:
Corruption and Coercion
Liberals and republicans alike feared those Old World elements that could erode individual virtue and the wider Republic:

Standing militaries.
Powerful centralized financial institutions.
Urbanized populations.
Demagogues and authoritarianism.

The First Continental Congress (1774)
Towards Independence:
Scars of Separation:
The Violence of the American Revolution
Liberty, Virtue, and Self-Rule:
Taken together, many colonists believed
that certain inherent rights were universal
that liberty depended upon the rule of law, the social contract, and legitimacy of self-determination.
To quell the growing unrest, British troops landed in Boston in 1768--tensions climaxed with the
"Boston Massacre" in March 1770.
British-acquired mercenaries were unleashed.

British military shelled port cities and cut off civilian food supplies.

Both sides occasionally killed and abused prisoners of war.

Loyalists were targeted and their property frequently confiscated.

American militias occasionally massacred Amerindians along the frontier.
Freedom of religion (and separation of church and state), speech, press, assembly, association, petition.

The right of the people to "bear arms" in service of regulated state militias. Meaning later expanded to include individual ownership of firearms for self-defense.

No unlawful quartering of troops.

Freedom from unlawful searches and seizures (the necessity of search warrants).

Freedom from self-incrimination. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury of one's peers. Right to know what criminal charges you face. Right to proper jurisdiction for the prosecution of a crime.

Right to a jury trial in federal civil cases.

No cruel or unusual punishments upon convictions.

Certain rights, though not stated in the Constitution, are still guaranteed outside of the Constitution.

Reinforcement of federalism--powers not granted to the federal government and not prohibited to the states are reserved for the People and their states.
Washington's Lifts
the Siege of Boston (March 1776)
Deploying the Fabian Strategy:
U.S. Victories at Trenton and Princeton (Dec. 1776- Jan. 1777).
Despite the mythology manufactured after the war, the American Revolution was hardly clean.
Both sides engaged in practices that stretched the boundaries of the emerging codes of lawful warfare.
By 1689, British citizens' inherent rights were cemented in the
Bill of Rights
guaranteed Parliament's role in governing taxation, as well as freedoms of speech, petition, ownership of firearms (for Protestants only), and jury trials.
The most contentious issue at the Convention was
the problem of the international slave trade.

Northern Quaker delegates' moral warnings.

SC and GA delegates did not trust the VA delegates.

Broad agreement that even the appearance of "slavery" in the Constitution posed a long-term problem.

Taken together, the debates became a broader fight over the place of slavery in the new Republic.

The Slave Trade Clause
The Fugitive Slave Clause
Full transcript