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AP 3

America: A Concise History, Volume 1: To 1877

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THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION - To impress the AP examiners: discuss DEBATES IN AMERICAN HISTORY. - Historiography. Debates that will impress examiners. - The revolution is an unusual one, because it is a conservative revolution. This is because the colonial elite did not want it to go into tyranny. - The problem for the elites: need support of common people to 1) put pressure on British 2) fight (ordinary folk fight) 3) proclaim revolution - Revolution was in the interests of the elite. Tried to control: - 1) When the mobs got out of hand, the elite took great care to restore control - 2) George Washington was ALWAYS looking for dissent in the army. He didn’t hesitate to respond forcefully to any challenge to authority within the army of the Continental Congress. Washington hanged a lot of men for stepping out of line. Discipline was absolute. Washington recognized the danger that these discontented young men might pose - 3) Question of slavery. Declaration of independence “all men created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. What about slaves? There was a concern with what the revolution might mean for slavery. Many of the major land owners and leader came from Virginia, where they owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, HUGE slave owners. They operated their large estates with slaves. There were people opposed to slavery, and slaves who opposed the idea. Initially, in the Declaration of Independence, there was going to be a reference condemning King George for the slave trade. Then they realize it wasn’t a good idea. The colonial elite recognized the contradictions. There was a push for some folks that said the revolution should address slavery. Thomas Paine, who wrote Common Sense pamphlet giving common man’s argument for revolution (rights of ALL men). The leaders of the revolution have this problem. How are we going to channel this energy about the slave question? DOWN PLAY THE QUESTION OF SLAVERY, put it aside. To control the people. Eventually, not able to bury it.
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