|Unit 2 French Colonization/North America 1754-1800
-Thematic learning objectives (each multiple choice question is tied to one (1) of these that follows.
-Key Concepts that can be seen as responses the questions posed as learning objectives.
-information from sample Short Answer questions provided by AP and information from AP from a sample of the Long Essay that is covered in this unit.
Thematic Objectives: expressed as applicable to the above unit
This theme focuses on the formation of both American national identity and group identities in U.S. history. Students should be able to explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities. Students should be able to explain how these subidentities have interacted with each other and with larger conceptions of American national identity.
Q: How and why have debates over American National Identity changed over time?
ID-1: Analyze how competing conceptions of national identity were expressed in the development of political institutions and cultural values from the late colonial period through 1800.
Response: 2.3 II & 3.1 II & 3.2 I
Q: How have gender, class, ethnic, religious, regional, and other group Identities changed in different eras?
ID-4: Explain how conceptions of group identity and autonomy emerged out of cultural interactions between colonizing groups, Africans, and American Indians in the colonial era.
Response: 1.3II & 3.1 I & 3.3 III
ID-5: Analyze the role of economic, political, social, and ethnic factors on the formation of regional identities in what would become the United States from the colonial period through 1800.
Response: 3.3I & 3.3 III
ID-6: Analyze how migration patterns to, and migration within, the United States have influenced the growth of racial and ethnic identities and conflicts over ethnic assimilation and distinctiveness.
Response: 3.3 I
Work, Exchange, and Technology
This theme focuses on the development of American economies based on agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing. Students should examine ways that different economic and labor systems, technological innovations, and government policies have shaped American society. Students should explore the lives of working people and the relationships among social classes, racial and ethnic groups, and men and women, including the availability of land and labor, national and international economic developments, and the role of government support and regulation.
Q: How have changes in markets, transportation, and technology affected American Society from colonial times to the present day?
WXT-1: Explain how patterns of exchanging commodities, peoples, diseases, and ideas around the Atlantic World developed after European contact and shaped North American colonial-era societies.
Response: 3.1 II
WXT-2: Analyze how innovations in markets, transportation, and technology affected the economy and different regions of North America from the colonial period through 1800.
Response: 3.3 III
Q: Why have different labor systems developed in British North America and the United States, and how have they affected U.S. society?
WXT-4: Explain the development of labor systems such as slavery, indentured servitude, and free labor from the colonial period through 1800.
Response: 3.3 III
Q: How have debates over economic values and the role of government in the U.S. economy affected politics, society, the economy, and the environment?
WXT-6: Explain how arguments about market capitalism, the growth of corporate power, and government policies influenced economic policies from the late 18th century through 1800.
Response: 3.2 II
This theme focuses on why and how the various people who moved to, from, and within the United States adapted to their new social and physical environments. Students examine migration across borders and long distances, including the slave trade and internal migration, and how both newcomers and indigenous inhabitants transformed North America. The theme also illustrates how people responded when “borders crossed them.” Students explore the ideas, beliefs, traditions, technologies, religions, and gender roles that migrants/immigrants and annexed peoples brought them and the impact these factors had on both these peoples and on U.S. society.
Q: How have changes in migration and population patterns affected American life?
PEO-4: Analyze the effects that migration, disease, and warfare had on the American Indian population after contact with the Europeans.
Response: 3.3 II
PEO-5: Explain how free and forced migration to and within different parts of North America caused regional development, cultural diversity and blending, and political and social conflicts through 1800.
Response: 3.3 I
Politics and Power
Students should examine ongoing debates over the role of the state in society and its potential as an active agent for change. This includes mechanisms for creating, implementing, or limiting participation in the political process and the resulting social effects, as well as the changing relationships among the branches of the federal government and among national, state, and local governments. Students should trace efforts to define or gain access to individual rights and citizenship and survey the evolutions of tensions between liberty and authority in different periods of U.S. history.
Q: How and why have different political and social groups competed for influence over Society and government in what would become the United States?
POL-1: Analyze the factors behind competition, cooperation, and conflict among different societies and social groups in North America during the colonial period.
Response: 3.1 I & 3.1 II & 3.3 I & 3.3II
POL-2: Explain how and why major party systems and political alignments arose and have changed during the early Republic through 1800.
Response: 3.1 III & 3.3 III
Q: How have Americans agreed on or argued over the values that guide the political system as well as who is a part of the political process?
POL-5: Analyze how arguments over the meaning and interpretation of the Constitution have affected U.S. politics since 1787.
Response: 3.2 I & 3.2 II & 3.2 III
American in the World
In this theme, students should focus on the global context in which the United States originated and developed as well as the influence of the United States on world affairs. Students should examine how various world actors (such as people, states, organizations, and companies) have competed for the territory and resources of the North American continent, influencing the development of both American and world societies and economies. Students should also investigate how American foreign policies and military actions have affected the rest of the world as well as social issues within the United States itself.
Q: How have events in North America and the United States related to contemporary developments in the rest of the world?
WOR-1: Explain how imperial competition and the exchange of commodities across both sides of the Atlantic Ocean influenced the origins and patterns of development of North American societies in the colonial period.
Response: 3.1 II & 3.3 I
WOR-2: Explain how the exchange of ideas among different parts of the Atlantic World shaped belief systems and independence movements through 1800.
Response: 3.2 I & 3.2 III
Q: How have different factors influenced U.S. military, diplomatic, and economic involvement in international affairs and foreign conflicts, both in North America and overseas?
WOR-5: Analyze the motives behind, and results of, economic, military, and diplomatic initiatives aimed at expanding U.S. power and territory in the Western Hemisphere from Independence to 1800.
Response: 3.3 III & 3.2 II & 3.3 I & 3.3 II
Environment and Geography- Physical and Human
This theme examines the role of environment, geography, and climate in both constraining and shaping human actions. Students should analyze the interaction between the environment and Americans in their efforts to survive and thrive. Students should also explore efforts to interpret, preserve, manage, or exploit natural and man-made environments as well as the historical contexts within which interactions with the environment have taken place.
Q: How did interactions with the natural environment shape the institutions and values of various groups living on the North American continent?
ENV-2: Explain how the natural environment contributed to the development of distinct regional group identities, institutions, and conflicts from 1608 (Fr.) through the independence period.
Response: 3.1 I
ENV-3: Analyze the role of environmental factors in contributing to regional economic and political identities by 1800 and how the affected conflict in the American Revolution.
Q: How did economic and demographic changes affect the environment and lead to debates over use and control of the environment and natural resources?
ENV-4: Analyze how the search for economic resources affected social and political developments from the colonial period through 1800.
Response: 3.1 I
Ideas, Beliefs, and Culture
This theme explores the roles that ideas, beliefs, social mores, and creative expression have played in shaping the United States. Students should examine the development of aesthetic, moral, religious, scientific, and philosophical principles and consider how these principles have affected individual and group actions. Students should analyze the interactions between beliefs and communities, economic values, and political movements, including attempts to change American society to align it with specific ideals.
Q: How and why have moral, philosophical, and cultural values changed in what would become the United States?
CUL-1: Compare the cultural values and attitudes of different European, African American, and native peoples in the colonial period and explain how contact affected intergroup relationships and conflicts.
Response: 3.1 I
CUL-2: Analyze how emerging conceptions of national identity and democratic ideals shaped value systems, gender roles, and cultural movements in the late 18th century through 1800.
Response: 3.1 II & 3.2 III & 3.3 III
Q: How and why have changes in moral, philosophical, and cultural values affected U.S. history?
CUL-4: Analyze how changing religious ideals, Enlightenment beliefs, and republican thought shaped the politics, culture, and society of the colonial era through the early Republic.
Response: 3.1 II & 3.2 I
Key Concepts for Unit 2
European overseas expansion resulted in a series of interactions and adaptations among societies across the Atlantic.
European expansion into the Western Hemisphere caused intense social/ religious, political, and economic competition in Europe and the promotion of empire building. (ENV-1) (ENV-4) (WXT-1) (WOR-1) (POL-1)
European exploration and conquest were fueled by a desire for new sources of wealth, increased power and status, and converts to Christianity.
Improvements in technology and more organized methods for conducting international trade helped drive changes to economies in Europe and the Americas.
Contacts among American Indians, Africans, and Europeans challenged the worldviews of each group.
European overseas expansion and sustained contacts with Africans and American Indians dramatically altered European views of social, political, and economic relationships among and between white and nonwhite peoples. (CUL-1)
Many Europeans developed a belief in white superiority to justify their subjugation of Africans and American Indians, using several different rationales.
Native peoples and Africans in the Americas strove to maintain their political and cultural autonomy in the face of European challenges to their independence and core beliefs. (ID-4) (POL-1) (CUL-1) (ENV-2)
European attempts to change American Indian beliefs and worldviews on basic social issues such as religion, gender roles and the family, and the relationship of people with the natural environment led to American Indian resistance and conflict.
Europeans and American Indians maneuvered and fought for dominance, control, and security in North America, and distinctive colonial and native societies emerged.
Differences in imperial goals, cultures, and the North American environments that different empires confronted led Europeans to develop diverse patterns of colonization.
Seventeenth-century Spanish, French, Dutch, and British colonizers embraced different social and economic goals, cultural assumptions, and folkways, resulting in varied models of colonization. (WXT-2) (PEO-1) (WOR-1) (ENV-4)
French and Dutch colonial efforts involved relatively few Europeans and used trade alliances and intermarriage with American Indians to acquire furs and other products for export to Europe.
Unlike their European competitors, the English eventually sought to establish colonies based on agriculture, sending relatively large numbers of men and women to acquire land and populate their settlements, while having relatively hostile relationships with American Indians.
French, and Dutch colonies accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples
Along with other factors, environmental and geographical variations, including climate and natural resources, contributed to regional differences in what would become the British colonies.
European colonization efforts in North America stimulated intercultural contact and intensified conflict between the various groups of colonizers and native peoples.
Competition over resources between European rivals led to conflict within and between North American colonial possessions and American Indians. (WXT-1) (PEO-1) (WOR-1) (POL-1) (ENV-1)
Conflicts in Europe spread to North America, as French, Dutch, British, and Spanish colonies allied, traded with, and armed American Indian groups, leading to continuing political instability.
As European nations competed in North America, their colonies focused on gaining new sources of labor and on producing and acquiring commodities that were valued in Europe.
The goals and interests of European leaders at times diverged from those of colonial citizens, leading to growing mistrust on both sides of the Atlantic, as settlers, especially in the English colonies, expressed dissatisfaction over territorial settlements, frontier defense, and other issues.
Clashes between European and American Indian social and economic values caused changes in both cultures. (ID-4) (WXT-1) (PEO-4) (PEO-5) (POL-1) (CUL-1)
Continuing contact with Europeans increased the flow of trade goods and diseases into and out of native communities, stimulating cultural and demographic changes.
By supplying American Indian allies with deadlier weapons and alcohol and by rewarding Indian military actions, Europeans helped increase the intensity and destructiveness of American Indian warfare.
The increasing political, economic, and cultural exchanges within the “Atlantic World” had a profound impact on the development of colonial societies in North America.
Atlantic World” commercial, religious, philosophical, and political interactions among Europeans, Africans, and American native peoples stimulated economic growth. (WXT-1) (WXT-4) (WOR-1) (WOR-2) (CUL-4)
Several factors promoted Anglicization in the British colonies: the growth of autonomous political communities based on English models, the development of commercial ties and legal structures, the emergence of a trans-Atlantic print culture, Protestant evangelism, religious toleration, and the spread of European Enlightenment ideas.
The impact of colonial wars stimulated the growth of ideas on race in this Atlantic system, leading to the emergence of racial stereotyping and the development of strict racial categories among British colonists, which contrasted with Spanish and French acceptance of racial gradations.
Britain’s desire to maintain a viable North American empire in the face of growing internal challenges and external competition inspired efforts to strengthen its imperial control, stimulating increasing resistance from colonists who had grown accustomed to a large measure of autonomy. (WOR-1) (WOR-2) (ID-1) (CUL-4)
As regional distinctiveness among the British colonies diminished over time, they developed largely similar patterns of culture, laws, institutions, and governance within the context of the British imperial system.
Late 17th-century efforts to integrate Britain’s colonies into a coherent, hierarchical imperial structure and pursue mercantilist economic aims met with scant success due largely to varied forms of colonial resistance and conflicts with American Indian groups, and were followed by nearly a half-century of the British government’s relative indifference to colonial governance.
Resistance to imperial control in the British colonies drew on colonial experiences of self-government, evolving local ideas of liberty, the political thought of the Enlightenment, greater religious independence and diversity, and an ideology critical of perceived corruption in the imperial system.
British imperial attempts to reassert control over its colonies and the colonial reaction to these attempts produced a new American republic, along with struggles over the new nation’s social, political, and economic identity.
Britain’s victory over France in the imperial struggle for North America led to new conflicts among the British government, the North American colonists, and American Indians, culminating in the creation of a new nation, the United States.
Throughout the second half of the 18th century, various American Indian groups repeatedly evaluated and adjusted their alliances with Europeans, other tribes, and the new U.S. government. (ID-4) (POL-1) (ENV-2) (ENV-4) (CUL-1)
English population growth and expansion into the interior disrupted existing French–Indian fur trade networks and caused various Indian nations to shift alliances among competing European powers.
After the British defeat of the French, white–Indian conflicts continued to erupt as native groups sought both to continue trading with Europeans and to resist the encroachment of British colonists on traditional tribal lands.
During and after the colonial war for independence, various tribes attempted to forge advantageous political alliances with one another and with European powers to protect their interests, limit migration of white settlers, and maintain their tribal lands.
During and after the imperial struggles of the mid-18th century, new pressures began to unite the British colonies against perceived and real constraints on their economic activities and political rights, sparking a colonial independence movement and war with Britain. (ID-1) (WXT-1) (POL-1) (WOR-1) (CUL-2) (CUL-4)
Great Britain’s massive debt from the Seven Years’ War resulted in renewed efforts to consolidate imperial control over North American markets, taxes, and political institutions — actions that were supported by some colonists but resisted by others.
The resulting independence movement was fueled by established colonial elites, as well as by grassroots movements that included newly mobilized laborers, artisans, and women, and rested on arguments over the rights of British subjects, the rights of the individual, and the ideas of the Enlightenment.
Despite considerable loyalist opposition, as well as Great Britain’s apparently overwhelming military and financial advantages, the patriot cause succeeded because of the colonists’ greater familiarity with the land, their resilient military and political leadership, their ideological commitment, and their support from European allies.
In response to domestic and international tensions, the new United States debated and formulated foreign policy initiatives and asserted an international presence. (WOR-5) (POL-2)
The continued presence of European powers in North America challenged the United States to find ways to safeguard its borders, maintain neutral trading rights, and promote its economic interests.
The French Revolution’s spread throughout Europe and beyond helped fuel Americans’ debate not only about the nature of the United States’ domestic order but also about its proper role in the world.
Although George Washington’s Farewell Address warned about the dangers of divisive political parties and permanent foreign alliances, European conflict and tensions with Britain and France fueled increasingly bitter partisan debates throughout the 1790s.
In the late 18th century, new experiments with democratic ideas and republican forms of government, as well as other new religious, economic, and cultural ideas, challenged traditional imperial systems across the Atlantic World.
During the 18th century, new ideas about politics and society led to debates about religion and governance and ultimately inspired experiments with new governmental structures. (ID-1) (POL-5) (WOR-2) (CUL-4)
Protestant evangelical religious fervor strengthened many British colonists’ understandings of themselves as a chosen people blessed with liberty, while Enlightenment philosophers and ideas inspired many American political thinkers to emphasize individual talent over hereditary privilege.
The colonists’ belief in the superiority of republican self- government based on the natural rights of the people found its clearest American expression in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and in the Declaration of Independence.
Many new state constitutions and the national Articles of Confederation, reflecting republican fears of both centralized power and excessive popular influence, placed power in the hands of the legislative branch and maintained property qualifications for voting and citizenship.
After experiencing the limitations of the Articles of Confederation, American political leaders wrote a new Constitution based on the principles of federalism and separation of powers, crafted a Bill of Rights, and continued their debates about the proper balance between liberty and order. (WXT-6) (POL-5) (WOR-5)
Difficulties over trade, finances, and interstate and foreign relations, as well as internal unrest, led to calls for significant revisions to the Articles of Confederation and a stronger central government.
Delegates from the states worked through a series of compromises to form a Constitution for a new national government while providing limits on federal power.
Calls during the ratification process for greater guarantees of rights resulted in the addition of a Bill of Rights shortly after the Constitution was adopted.
As the first national administrations began to govern under the Constitution, continued debates about such issues as the relationship between the national government and the states, economic policy, and the conduct of foreign affairs led to the creation of political parties.
While the new governments continued to limit rights to some groups, ideas promoting self-government and personal liberty reverberated around the world. (ID-4) (WOR-2) (POL-5) (CUL-2)
During and after the American Revolution, an increased awareness of the inequalities in society motivated some individuals and groups to call for the abolition of slavery and greater political democracy in the new state and national governments.
The constitutional framers postponed a solution to the problems of slavery and the slave trade, setting the stage for recurring conflicts over these issues in later years.
The American Revolution and the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence had reverberations in France, Haiti, and Latin America, inspiring future rebellions.
Migration within North America, cooperative interaction, and competition for resources raised questions about boundaries and policies, intensified conflicts among peoples and nations, and led to contests over the creation of a multiethnic, multiracial national identity.
As migrants streamed westward from the British colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, interactions among different groups that would continue under an independent United States resulted in competition for resources, shifting alliances, and cultural blending. (ID-5) (ID-6) (PEO-5) (POL-1) (WOR-1) (WOR-5)
The French withdrawal from North America and the subsequent attempt of various native groups to reassert their power over the interior of the continent resulted in new white–Indian conflicts along the western borders of British and, later, the U.S. colonial settlement and among settlers looking to assert more power in interior regions.
Migrants from within North America and around the world continued to launch new settlements in the West, creating new distinctive backcountry cultures and fueling social and ethnic tensions.
The Spanish, supported by the bonded labor of the local Indians, expanded their mission settlements into California, providing opportunities for social mobility among enterprising soldiers and settlers that led to new cultural blending.
The policies of the United States that encouraged western migration and the orderly incorporation of new territories into the nation both extended republican institutions and intensified conflicts among American Indians and Europeans in the trans-Appalachian West. (POL-1) (PEO-4) (WOR-5)
As settlers moved westward during the 1780s, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance for admitting new states and sought to promote public education, the protection of private property, and the restriction of slavery in the Northwest Territory.
The Constitution’s failure to precisely define the relationship between American Indian tribes and the national government led to problems regarding treaties and Indian legal claims relating to the seizure of Indian lands.
As western settlers sought free navigation of the Mississippi River, the United States forged diplomatic initiatives to manage the conflict with Spain and to deal with the continued British presence on the American continent.
New voices for national identity challenged tendencies to cling to regional identities, contributing to the emergence of distinctly American cultural expressions. (ID-5) (WXT-2) (WXT-4) (POL-2) (CUL-2) (ENV-3)
As national political institutions developed in the new United States, varying regionally based positions on economic, political, social, and foreign policy issues promoted the development of political parties.
The expansion of slavery in the lower South and adjacent western lands, and its gradual disappearance elsewhere, began to create distinctive regional attitudes toward the institution.
Enlightenment ideas and women’s experiences in the movement for independence promoted an ideal of “republican motherhood,” which called on white women to maintain and teach republican values within the family and granted women a new importance in American political culture.
The new republic struggled to define and extend democratic ideals in the face of rapid economic, territorial, and demographic changes.
The United States developed the world’s first modern mass democracy and celebrated a new national culture, while Americans sought to define the nation’s democratic ideals and to reform its institutions to match them.
The nation’s transformation to a more participatory democracy was accompanied by continued debates over federal power, the relationship between the federal government and the states, the authority of different branches of the federal government, and the rights and responsibilities of individual citizens. (POL-2) (POL-5) (POL-6) (ID-5)
As various constituencies and interest groups coalesced and defined their agendas, various political parties, most significantly the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans in the 1790s were created or transformed to reflect and/or promote those agendas.
Information from AP Samples that are covered in Unit 2:
I post this information for 2 reasons; 1) The information about the topics covered will give you a deeper understanding of the particular subject…2) and…to give you some insight on the structure and requirements of the Long Essay…
From 2 short answer sample(s): 1) on Native Americans relationship with Europeans and 2) on the Northwest Ordinance (1787):
Briefly explain ONE example of how contact between Native Americans and Europeans brought changes to Native American societies in the period 1492 to 1700.
- Native American population declined as a result of disease and warfare.
Many Native Americans were enslaved and/or subjected to forced labor
Traditional tribal economies changed as a result of increased trade with Europeans.
Native Americans and Europeans began to intermarry in Spanish and French colonies, producing racially mixed populations and caste systems.
Views on gender roles, family, and property changed as a result of European influence.
The introduction of guns, other weapons, and alcohol stimulated cultural and demographic changes in some Native American societies.
Alliances with European nations changed politics and policies within and among tribes.
Briefly explain ONE example of how Native American societies resisted change brought by contact with Europeans in the same period.
- Tribes sometimes worked to preserve their traditional tribal culture, beliefs, language, and worldviews rather than accept or adapt to European ways and beliefs.
Tribes sometimes formed alliances with one another, such as the Iroquois Confederacy in modern NY, in order to resist encroaching European colonial societies.
Some tribes formed alliances with some Europeans to resist and wage war on other Europeans (or to play one European nation against another).
Information about the Northwest Ordinance (1787) and how it led to a sectional debate over slavery… (one aspect of this law that is important…other that the EQUALLY (SOME SAY MORE) SIGNIFICANT ASPECT…WHICH IS THE PROCESS BY WHICH THE UNITED STATES ADDS NEW STATES, ON A COMPLETELY EQUAL BASIS, INTO THE UNION THRUGH “TEMPORARY TUTELAGE (THE TERRITORY SYSTEM)
Claims that the NW ord. affected the impact of the Slavery issue as the USA develops:
The Ordinance restricted slavery in the Old Northwest, which produced controversy.
The Ordinance established slave and nonslave territory in the nation, a situation that led to numerous debates.
The Ordinance provoked controversy by asserting the right of the federal government to act on issues involving slavery in the territories.
The Ordinance hardened regional identities between slave and nonslave regions.
Evidence that a debate or conflict existed over slavery in this time period:
The sectional debate over the Three-Fifths Clause in the proposed Constitution
The sectional debate over inclusion of a fugitive slave law in the Constitution
The sectional debate over the slave trade at the Constitutional Convention
Growth of antislavery organizations, especially in the North, after 1787
Passage of emancipation acts in Northern states between 1787 and 1804
Passage of state laws facilitating the emancipation of slaves in the upper South after 1787
The Long Essay Sample:
Information about the LONG ESSAY:
Students will choose one of two long essay questions to answer in writing. The long essay requires that students demonstrate their ability to use historical evidence in crafting a thoughtful historical argument. For the sample questions presented here, students will analyze an issue using the historical thinking skills of historical argumentation and patterns of continuity and change over time. As with any essay, a good response begins with the development of a relevant thesis. The Question in this sample set begins with a sentence describing a historical interpretation about continuity and change and then ask students to “support, modify, or refute” that interpretation. A solid thesis will take a stance that chooses one of these three options. In the rest of the essay, the student should provide evidence in a manner that is convincing, thoughtful, and built on a sound knowledge of historical information relevant to the topic.
The following question is meant to illustrate an example of a question that might appear in this part of the exam.
Some historians have argued that the American Revolution was not revolutionary in nature. Support, modify, or refute this interpretation, providing specific evidence to justify your answer.
- A good response to this question will support, modify, or refute the interpretation that the American Revolution was not revolutionary in nature.
The AP suggested idea:
An essay supporting this interpretation would craft an argument using specific evidence that shows the American Revolution did not foster revolutionary change but instead maintained continuity. Although not required to do so, a good response might also acknowledge that the situation is nuanced and to some degree ambiguous. The essay might therefore contend that for the most part, the historical evidence supports the claim made in the question stem, while pointing out that some contrary evidence exists as well.
In supporting the interpretation, a good essay might cite historical facts from any of a number of appropriate areas. It might note, for example, that the outcome of the American Revolution saw no broad change in the composition of those who dominated the social, political, and economic structure of the former colonies. Those individuals who were wealthy, powerful, and influential before the event continued to possess wealth, power, and influence later. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson could serve as examples. This approach would argue that the Revolution was basically a revolt by colonial elites against the elites in England.
Another analysis supporting the assertion made in the exam question might draw upon the work of historian Charles Beard, who famously argued that the creation of the Constitution in the late 1780s was a counterrevolution. Beard contended that the Constitution was created to maintain commercial and landowning elites’ power, influence, and standing in the face of events such as Shays’s Rebellion and other attempts at revolutionary change. Note that since the question does not confine the response to a particular time period, it would be appropriate to cite events and other evidence from the 1780s in the essay.
Other good responses might analyze the absence of revolutionary change for groups such as women, slaves, and Native Americans following the Revolution. In the case of women, the revolutionary rhetoric about natural rights did not result in their obtaining political or economic independence. Neither did the Revolution significantly change the plight of most slaves. While Northern states began to outlaw slavery, the vast majority of slaves lived in Southern states where their conditions were largely unchanged. Native Americans actually lost liberty.
Conversely, a good response might take the opposite approach and refute the assertion cited in the exam question, using persuasive evidence to contend
that the Revolution was revolutionary in nature and that significant change did occur. This argument could point to a significant change in government, in that the Revolution did away with royal power and authority and instead substituted written state constitutions guaranteeing a republican form of government. In
a similar vein, a good response might note that the Revolution did away with certain aristocratic practices such as primogeniture (which limited inheritance of land to the eldest son). This led to the possibility of a greater dispersion of the ownership of land.
Other appropriate arguments refuting the interpretation might assert that the Revolutionary period resulted in the spread of American democratic culture. The rise of pamphleteering prior to the Revolution indicated democratization in politics, as did the growing enfranchisement of citizens. A good response might point out that voter participation grew immediately before and following the Revolution, setting the stage for even greater democratization in the early 19th century. Natural rights rhetoric about liberty and equality, furthermore, gave women and African Americans a basis for combatting legal inequalities that limited their roles in society.
Finally, a good response might instead choose to modify the interpretation presented in the question. In all likelihood, this approach would emphasize that the totality of evidence is not clear-cut: that the American Revolution was in some ways revolutionary but in other ways was not. To make this argument, a good response would probably select facts supporting each of the two possibilities listed above, presenting proof that the Revolution was ambiguous.
In all of the above cases, a strong response will demonstrate knowledge of relevant chronology and incorporate a detailed understanding of historical events, arguments, and circumstances.
I know this is a lot of information, however, if you take the time to read this through it will promote questions that you can ask in class and enable you to have an edge on the test…Busch