A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States - Vol. 1

By Melvin I. Urofsky; Paul Finkelman | Go to book overview

4

The Revolutionary Era

Congress Governs • The Articles of Confederation • New
State Governments • Conservatives and Radicals • State
Constitutions • Religious Freedom • Slavery • Judicial Review
and the Success and Failure of State Constitutions in the Rev-
olutionary Era • The Common Law Survives • Blackstone's
Influence • Conclusion • For Further Reading

WITH INDEPENDENCE PROCLAIMED, a new chapter in American history began. People who for more than a century and a half had considered themselves primarily English citizens in imperial outposts now proudly declared themselves “Americans.” However, although they continued to treasure much of their English heritage, they were also determined to discard those aspects they believed detrimental to their liberty. Even while fighting the Revolution, Americans began their first experiments in molding new governments, both in state constitutions and in the Articles of Confederation. They did not, however, write on an empty slate, and these initial forays clearly reflected the ideas of the Enlightenment as well as the American's experience with partial self-government in the colonial period. The founders of the new state governments, as well as of the new national government, also drew on their English heritage, especially the tumultuous events of the seventeenth century that led to the English Civil War, the beheading of King Charles I, and the Glorious Revolution.

Before creating a new constitutional order, the Americans first had to secure their independence and provide legitimacy to their government.


Congress Governs

Although residents of the thirteen rebelling colonies called themselves Americans, there were nearly as many factors dividing as uniting them. The New England farmer had little in common with the Tidewater planter or the Philadelphia merchant. Different religious, economic, and social systems, as well as intellectual patterns, could easily have

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A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • For Susan and Byrgen—yet Again v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: From the Old World to the New 1
  • 2: Law in Colonial America 17
  • 3: The Road to Independence 39
  • 4: The Revolutionary Era 61
  • 5: The Crisis of Confederation 80
  • 6: A More Perfect Union 93
  • 7: Launching the Great Experiment 120
  • 8: The Supreme Court: the First Decade 147
  • 9: The Changing Face of the Law 165
  • 10: Adams, Jefferson, and the Courts 181
  • 11: The Marshall Court and National Power 207
  • 12: The Marshall Court and Economic Development 229
  • 13: A Law Made for the Times 248
  • 14: Politics, Nationalism, and Competition 271
  • 15: Jacksonian Democracy 296
  • 16: The Taney Court: Change and Continuity 320
  • 17: The Peculiar Laws of America's Peculiar Institution 337
  • 18: A House Dividing 366
  • 19: The Union Sundered 401
  • 20: The Union Unrestored 429
  • 21: Reconstruction 451
  • 22: The Court and Civil Rights 479
  • Appendixes - The Declaration of Independence 501
  • Articles of Confederation 505
  • Constitution of the United States 511
  • Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court 528
  • Case Index 537
  • Subject Index 542
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