I am leaning more towards the American Revolution being both revolutionary as well as conservative. After the French and Indian war, Britain gained territory in North American, but was also in financial turmoil due to the war. Because of this, Britain began taxing the colonies, tremendously.
Taxes, such as the Townshend’s Act and the Stamp act were placed upon them, unfairly because the colonists were not allowed representation in regards to their views or oppositions of such issues. They did not want “taxation without representation” as Mr. James Otis stated. And at every turn, the British were placing other Acts upon the colonies: The Navigation Act, the Sugar Act, the Quartering Act, and so forth. The colonists basically had to “pay” for their protection by providing housing to British soldiers, put in place by British Parliament. As stated in our history book America: A Narrative History, “What Americans most feared in the late eighteenth century was the governmental abuse of power” (pg. 245). And, from what I have learned, they did suffer from governmental abuse. They were under British rule by their mother country, however they were not treated like British citizens. The colonists revolted, breaking free from Britain. Once the American Revolution was won, the colonists, or rather Americans, no longer had to fear governmental abuse from Britain.
America was now her own country, allowing its citizens to follow the “the pursuit of happiness” which included ideas such as every man is created equal and individuals had an equal opportunity to prosper. It also meant that individuals had freedoms, such as freedom of religion. I believe that this is where the idea of conservative comes into play (though I could very well be wrong in my understanding). The colonists were already living by their ideas (the previously mentioned) but were being “held down” by Britain. However, now that America was her own country, the people could now live by these ideas. And a government also needed to be formed. Questions such as who would hold power, what would the relation be between each state as well as to the national government, and what was required of this government in order to see to the success of this now independent nation, needed to be answered (America: A narrative History, pg. 247). And no, lives were not changed overnight, and unfortunately, there were many struggles. America was facing debt after the war without a stable currency.
At first taxes were not in place, but when taxes were eventually put in place to help pay the debt owed by America, the people protested (especially when taxes paid were more than that of when they were under British rule). The Land Ordinance Act of 1786 gave the right to vote, hold office, and write constitutions to adult white males only. The Northwest Ordinance Act of 1787 involved banning slavery north of the Ohio River (except for those that were already enslaved). This Act also promised that land would not be taken from the Indians, but that promise was broken, many times. Reading Shay’s Rebellion, we see that the poor man became even more poor (particularly farmers) when they could not pay the taxes that were imposed on them.
So, no, unfortunately powers of positions did not change for many. However, delegates began working on the Constitution and laying out plans for a new government that would include a president, not a king.
- Shi, David Emory, & Tindall, George Brown (2016). America: A Narrative History (10E, Vol I). (page 245).
- Shi, David Emory, & Tindall, George Brown (2016). America: A Narrative History (10E, Vol I). (page 247).