The American Revolution instigated various change within the newly independent nation, but in small amounts – particularly relating to slaves, women, and to a lesser extent, economically.
The Revolution had contradictory effects on slavery. The northern states either abolished the institution outright or adopted gradual emancipation methods, while in the South, the Revolution severely disrupted slavery, but did not abolish it as a direct result. The Revolution also inspired African-American resistance against slavery. For slaves in the war, loyalty to Britain could have meant freedom. A British governor even issued a proclamation stating that any slave who fought with the British would be granted freedom. Given this, many slaves fled their owners to fight for the British; many other slaves saw the revolution as a way to escape. Nearly 100,000 slaves joined the British militia, and when the British left America, around 15,000 went back to Britain with them. In addition, the ideas of the Enlightenment recognized through the Revolution inspired more thought towards the natural rights philosophy, by which freed slaves agitated against slavery. They petitioned Congress to end the slave trade and state legislatures to abolish slavery, pointing out the contradiction between American ideals of liberty and equality and the base reality of America’s slavery.
The great nation of America was soon led to realize that, more or less, every man is created equal. Given this, they understood that every man should have the same opportunities for education. During and after the revolution,the idea of “Republican Motherhood” became very important, reminding the nation that for a republic to survive, it was necessary to have a well-educated citizenry. Realizing that women were the primary, opportune educators, more women were granted educations so they could, in turn, teach the young men of the nation. Though they were essentially being used, women were on their way to becoming more privileged in the way of rights and certain freedoms. The change for women was rather minimal because they would not win the fight over suffrage for another 140 years, but this was the beginning of the recognition of gender equality.
The colonial victory in the Revolutionary War left the American economy with a mixed bag of benefits and disadvantages. Previous restrictions on trade and industrial interaction with Britain ended. As a result, an American merchant industry developed. But the first few years after the Revolution were hard on America, as they were struggling both from the loss of slavery in the North as well as the loss of their mercantilism practices in correspondence with their mothering country. Part of the agreement between the colonists and Britain when they were allowed their independence stated that they would pay for the damages done during the war. Consequently, the primary concerns of post-war economics were reducing the inflation rate and raising the value of the currency so as to repay and finance government war debts.
A revolutionary event similar to this American turning point is the French Revolution. Both revolutions were the products of Enlightenment ideals that emphasized the idea of natural rights and equality – “all men are at first created equal”. Based on this ideological basis, people clearly felt the need to be free from oppressive tyrannical rule. The leadership in both countries at the time of their revolutions was certainly repressive, especially in terms of taxation. Both countries preceding their revolutionary period had suffered social and economic hardships. This led to the realization that something must be done to overcome the hierarchy, ultimately leading to these revolutions.