Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the political and social changes that took place within the American Revolution, focusing on how the concepts of liberty and freedom developed, as well as who gained and lost freedom as a result of the Revolution. The chapter begins with a look at a remarkable American woman, Abigail Adams.

The democratization of freedom via the public sphere is explored, looking at state constitutions and qualifications for voting. Issues involving religious liberty are examined through the numerous denominations that sprung up as well as from discussion about the separation of church and state. The chapter also comments on various economic models that competed in the public discourse, emphasizing Adam Smith’s theories put forth in The Wealth of Nations.

Limitations on freedom are then discussed. Those who remained loyal to the British found some of their liberties stripped away, but mostly they were able to reintegrate into society. Indians lost much of their freedom as a result of the war. Slaves believed that the rhetoric of freedom and liberty cried out by the patriots meant that emancipation was also necessary, and they were amazed when they realized that the Americans did not mean liberty for slaves too. Some slaves issued petitions for freedom to New England courts, and excerpts from two of those petitions are the focus of this chapter’s Voices of Freedom. The war did result in some emancipation, but not in the complete elimination of slavery. The chapter concludes with a look at women and their role in the war as soldier and as "republican mother" charged with the serious task of raising the next generation of republican leaders.

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