Republicans: Transforming Late 18th and Early 19th Century America Many different forms of government can be put into place that will dramatically influence the culture and lifestyle of a particular society. The influence of republicans was significant in helping to shape colonial America. Republicans grew and helped to transform colonial America exponentially in the years 1764 through 1812. In present-day America one simply views a republican as a member of a political party. In contrast, “the term republican no longer possesses the evocative power it did for eighteenth-century Americans.
For them, it defined an entire political culture” (TAS 141). In order for republicanism to be held in such high regard in the eighteenth-century republicans had to have done something extremely significant. Republican’s significance lies in the fact that they, “had done something that no other people had achieved for a very long time. They founded a national government without a monarch or aristocracy, in other words, a genuine republic” (TAS 141). Founding the United States of America based on republican values was an incredible feat.
However, there was great opposition and many tribulations that would be encountered on the way to founding America based on a republican form of government. Many colonial Americans would understandably doubt many of the ideas of republicans. For example, “in the early 1780s, no one could have predicted that the Constitution as we know it would have been written, much less ratified” (TAS 141). In order for something as highly doubted as the Constitution to succeed a group of well-educated people must work together to accomplish what is best for the people.
In “the 1780s, the country’s intellectual leaders Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams, among others focused their creative energies on the problem of how republicans ought to govern themselves” (TAS 142). With the helpful insight from many of the late eighteenth-century leaders, states began to progress with republican ideals. However, a problem arose “When the Second Continental Congress convened in 1775, the delegates found themselves waging war in the name of a country that did not yet exist” (TAS 50). It became apparent that America needed to rely more heavily on republican ideas. For example, “In May 1776, the Second Continental Congress invited the states to adopt constitutions” (TAS 148). State constitutions would likely give each state the ability to govern itself under a national government. However, “In 1780, no one knew whether the state experiments would succeed” (TAS 150). Skepticism undoubtedly enveloped republicanism and caused many to question the ideas that republicans sought to employ.
The problems continued when, “creating a viable central government proved more difficult than anyone anticipated” (TAS 150). Despite the problems, republican leaders helped the Articles of Confederation to be, “approved in November 1777… The delegates who drafted the framework shared a general republican conviction that power… was inherently dangerous and that the only way to preserve liberty was to place as many constraints as possible on federal authority” (TAS 151). While several positive aspects existed in republican America in the 1770’s, improvements to the republican ideas and ideals were necessary.
The perseverance that the founding fathers exemplified helped to shape and transform America in unimaginable ways. Perseverance was shown by republican leaders when, “A concerted movement to overhaul the Articles of Confederation began in 1786” (TAS 158). The attempt to change the Articles of Confederation showed that many leaders cared about America and would work hard to implement a constitution that was well supported by the people. For example, “In the spring of 1787, fifty-five men representing twelve states traveled to Philadelphia… to take part in the proceedings” (TAS 160).
This meeting was known as, “The Philadelphia Convention” (TAS 160). Many different suggestions and ideas were discussed in the Philadelphia Convention. An overall agreement was finally reached when, “On July 26, the convention formed a Committee of Detail to prepare a rough draft of the Constitution” (TAS 162). A well thought out Constitution was the result of extreme effort and care by those who attended The Philadelphia Convention. One thing that all Americans should be familiar with is the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protected the freedoms of assembly, speech, religion, and the press; guaranteed speedy trial by an impartial jury; preserved the people’s right to bear arms; and prohibited unreasonable searches” (TAS 157). The Bill of Rights was a necessity to be implemented into the Constitution. Furthermore, “by December 15, 1791, the amendments had been ratified by three-fourths of the states” (TAS 157). The ideas shown in the Bill of Rights are pertinent in today’s society and were instrumental in shaping America.
Many present-day Americans find comfort in the equal representation that is set forth in the Constitution. Unfortunately, Colonial Americans were not able to immediately enjoy the ability for every citizen to vote. However, “Americans aggressively denounced any traces of aristocratic pretense. As colonists, they had long resented the claims that certain Englishmen made to special privilege simply because of noble birth” (TAS 142). Similar to today’s society, equality was extremely important.
For example, “Republican ferment also encouraged many states to lower property requirements for voting” (TAS 143). The lowering of property requirements for voting would rightfully allow males from all economic classes to participate in elections. The beginning of voting equality was monumental to the transformation of America. Native Americans have been a part of the American culture since colonists first arrived. The relationship between Native Americans and colonists was often strained and not very friendly. Various reasons contributed to the hostility between the two cultures.
Foremost, “Before Great Britain finally withdrew its troops from the Great Lakes and Northwest Territory, its military officers encouraged local Indian groups… to attack settlers and traders from the United States” (TAS 183). Furthermore, Native Americans knew, “that the newcomers intended to seize their land” (TAS 183). For example, “At the battle of Fallen Timbers (August 20, 1794), Wayne’s forces crushed Indian resistance in the Northwest Territory, and the native peoples were compelled to sign the Treaty of Greenville, formally ceding to the U.
S. government the land that became Ohio” (TAS 184). The combination of British conspiracy and America’s westward expansion transformed America by decreasing the number of Native Americans and consolidating the areas that they lived in. Westward expansion of America is an extremely large part of what helped to shape America. “After 1790… a flood of people rushed west” beginning the settlement of western America (TAS 197). One might wonder whether the United States simply took this land from the Spanish and Native Americans or purchased it.
America was able to rightfully obtain an abundance of land when, “Talleyrand, the French minister for foreign relations, had offered to sell the entire Louisiana Territory in April 1803. For only $15 million, the Americans doubled the size of the United States” (TAS 203). As settlement expanded westward, “territorial governments were formed in Indiana (1800), Louisiana (1805), Michigan (1805), Illinois (1809), and Missouri (1812)” (TAS 197). The westward expansion allowed for America to literally transform and shape into a larger country.
Republicans presented many different ideas and ideals in order to help shape America into the country that it is today. Many difficulties were faced in order for the republican ideals to succeed. The founding fathers of America persevered through the tough times and worked hard to implement the ideas that they believed were the best for America. Republican leaders showed that if one sets his mind to accomplishing something that particular thing is possible with perseverance and faith.