The Betterment of Humanity
THE POLITICAL upheaval and change that was an integral part of the American Revolution made possible other changes in American society: changes that were sometimes an answer to ancient grievances, and sometimes a response to new conditions. The deep-rooted antagonism to established churches was expressed in the revolutionary constitutions and in laws disestablishing or removing the special privileges of established churches. Negro slavery, long hateful to some, was attacked anew as inconsistent with the idealism of the Revolution, and several states (invariably where slavery was unimportant), abolished slavery and the slave trade. The criminal codes, long as merciless as England's, were revised in the direction of humaneness. Prison reform was advocated and conditions were improved.1 The engrossment of the land was not stopped but the abolition of laws of entail and primogeniture did away with one legal foundation for great land holdings. British Crown lands and confiscated estates of Loyalists fell to the individual states and in turn were sold and granted, usually in smaller lots. In a measure, this contributed to the democratization of land holding, as did the opening up of the vast national domain west of the Appalachians.
On the practical side, Americans now got together as they had never done before in creating societies for social and economic improvement, digging canals, building bridges, and improving roads. They founded newspapers and magazines at a rate undreamed of before the war. All these and many more activities____________________