Experiment in Independence: New Jersey in the Critical Period, 1781-1789

Experiment in Independence: New Jersey in the Critical Period, 1781-1789

Experiment in Independence: New Jersey in the Critical Period, 1781-1789

Experiment in Independence: New Jersey in the Critical Period, 1781-1789

Excerpt

When viewed solely from the narrow perspective of nationalism, the years between the Revolution and the Constitution appear clouded with discord and failure and offer a dramatic contrast to the climactic achievement of 1789. No balanced history of the era can be written, however, from such a partial and inappropriate frame of reference. A broader approach, which recognizes that the unique and significant characteristic of the "critical period" was the dominance of the states in their individual capacities, is needed. Temporarily endowed with full sovereignty, the several members of the feeble Confederation were at liberty to devise solutions to their local problems on their own initiative. Each was engaged in an experiment in independence at the same time that all were conscious of a common heritage and a common destiny.

The difficulties New Jersey encountered after making the transition from colonialism and strife to freedom and peace were broadly similar to those which confronted its sister states. The damages that had been sustained in a long and costly war had to be repaired, the political institutions essential to . . .

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