The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America, they defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War in alliance with others. Members of American colonial society argued the position of "no taxation without representation", starting with the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, they rejected the authority of the British Parliament to tax them because they lacked members in that governing body. Protests escalated to the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the burning of the Gaspee in Rhode Island in 1772, followed by the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, during which Patriots destroyed a consignment of taxed tea; the British responded by closing Boston Harbor followed with a series of legislative acts which rescinded Massachusetts Bay Colony's rights of self-government and caused the other colonies to rally behind Massachusetts. In late 1774, the Patriots set up their own alternative government to better coordinate their resistance efforts against Great Britain.
Tensions erupted into battle between Patriot militia and British regulars when the king's army attempted to capture and destroy Colonial military supplies at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The conflict developed into a global war, during which the Patriots fought the British and Loyalists in what became known as the American Revolutionary War; each of the thirteen colonies formed a Provincial Congress that assumed power from the old colonial governments and suppressed Loyalism, from there they built a Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington. The Continental Congress determined King George's rule to be tyrannical and infringing the colonists' rights as Englishmen, they declared the colonies free and independent states on July 2, 1776; the Patriot leadership professed the political philosophies of liberalism and republicanism to reject monarchy and aristocracy, they proclaimed that all men are created equal. The Continental Army forced the redcoats out of Boston in March 1776, but that summer the British captured and held New York City and its strategic harbor for the duration of the war.
The Royal Navy blockaded ports and captured other cities for brief periods, but they failed to defeat Washington's forces. The Patriots unsuccessfully attempted to invade Canada during the winter of 1775–76, but captured a British army at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. France now entered the war as an ally of the United States with a large army and navy that threatened Britain itself; the war turned to the American South where the British under the leadership of Charles Cornwallis captured an army at Charleston, South Carolina in early 1780 but failed to enlist enough volunteers from Loyalist civilians to take effective control of the territory. A combined American–French force captured a second British army at Yorktown in the fall of 1781 ending the war; the Treaty of Paris was signed September 3, 1783, formally ending the conflict and confirming the new nation's complete separation from the British Empire. The United States took possession of nearly all the territory east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, with the British retaining control of Canada and Spain taking Florida.
Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of the United States Constitution, establishing a strong federal national government that included an executive, a national judiciary, a bicameral Congress that represented states in the Senate and the population in the House of Representatives. The Revolution resulted in the migration of around 60,000 Loyalists to other British territories British North America; as early as 1651, the English government had sought to regulate trade in the American colonies. On October 9, the Navigation Acts were passed pursuant to a mercantilist policy intended to ensure that trade enriched only Great Britain, barring trade with foreign nations; some argue that the economic impact was minimal on the colonists, but the political friction which the acts triggered was more serious, as the merchants most directly affected were most politically active. King Philip's War ended in 1678, much of it was fought without significant assistance from England.
This contributed to the development of a unique identity from that of the British people. In the 1680s, King Charles II determined to bring the New England colonies under a more centralized administration in order to regulate trade more effectively, his efforts were fiercely opposed by the colonists, resulting in the abrogation of their colonial charter by the Crown. Charles' successor James II finalized these efforts in 1686, establishing the Dominion of New England. Dominion rule triggered bitter resentment throughout New England. New Englanders were encouraged, however, by a change of government in England that saw James II abdicate, a populist uprising overthrew Dominion rule on April 18, 1689. Colonial governments reasserted their control in the wake of the revolt, successive governments made no more attempts to restore the Dominion. Subsequent English governments continued in their efforts to tax certain goods, passing acts regulating the trade of wool and molasses; the Molasses Act of 1733 in particular was egregious to the colonists, as a significant part of colonial trade relied on the product.
The taxes damaged the N
The Ohio Company, formally known as the Ohio Company of Virginia, was a land speculation company organized for the settlement by Virginians of the Ohio Country and to trade with the Native Americans. The company had a land grant from Britain and a treaty with Indians, but France claimed the area, the conflict helped provoke the outbreak of the French and Indian War. Virginian explorers recognized the potential of the Ohio region for colonization and moved to capitalize on it, as well as to block French expansion into the territory. In 1748, Thomas Lee and brothers Lawrence and Augustine Washington organized the Ohio Company to represent the prospecting and trading interests of Virginian investors. In addition to the mandate and investment of Virginia Royal Governor Robert Dinwiddie, other original members included John Hanbury, Colonel Thomas Cresap, George Mercer, John Mercer, "all of His Majesty's Colony of Virginia." In that same year, George Mercer petitioned King George for land in the Ohio country, in 1749, the British Crown granted the company 500,000 acres in the Ohio Valley between the Kanawha River and the Monongahela.
The grant was in two parts: the first 200,000 acres were promised, the following 300,000 acres were to be granted if the Ohio Company settled one hundred families within seven years. Furthermore, the Ohio Company was required to construct a fort and provide a garrison to protect the settlement at their own expense, but the land grant was tax free for ten years to facilitate settlement. The organizers signed a treaty of friendship and permission at Logstown with the main tribes in the region in 1752. A rival group of land speculators from Virginia, the Loyal Company of Virginia, was organized about the same time, included influential Virginians such as Thomas Walker and Peter Jefferson. In 1752 George Mason to become a major founding father, became treasurer of the Ohio Company, a post he held for forty years until his death in 1792. In 1748–1750, the Ohio Company hired Thomas Cresap who had opened a trading fort and founded Oldtown, Maryland on the foot of the eastern climb up the Cumberland Narrows along what was soon to be called the Nemacolin Trail, one of only three mid-mountain-range crossings of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley system outside the Hudson-Great Lakes route, or southern Georgia-Mississippi-Western Tennessee plains route.
Cresap was given a contract to blaze a small road over the mountains to the Monongahela River, to start widening this road into a wagon road. In 1750, the Ohio Company hired Christopher Gist, a skillful woodsman and surveyor, to explore the Ohio Valley in order to identify lands for potential settlement, he surveyed by estimating the Kanawhan Region and the Ohio Valley tributaries beginning in 1750, 1751 and 1753. His journals provide valuable insights of the Alleghenies. Gist travelled as far west as the Miami Indian village of Pickawillany. Upon the basis of his report, the Ohio Company settled in an area in Western Pennsylvania and present-day West Virginia. In 1752 the company had a pathway blazed between the small fortified posts at Wills Creek, Redstone Old Fort; the settlement efforts were complicated by the conflicting land claims of the time. The Ohio Country ceded by the King through Governor Dinwiddie included, in Dinwiddie's opinion, the "forks of the Monongahela," present-day Pittsburgh.
In addition to the Pennsylvania colonial government claims of this territory, the French were fighting for and occupying much of the Ohio Valley, most notably at Fort Duquesne. Dinwiddie responded by sending a military unit under the command of George Washington to the region, which led to the outbreak of the French and Indian War. In 1763, the Ohio Company sent a representative to petition the British Crown for a grant renewal; the plans for settlement and military development continued, with Henry Bouquet's 1764 plans to construct military posts around prospective western settlements. However, following Pontiac's War, land claims west of the Appalachian Mountains were forfeited to the Native American tribes in the Proclamation of 1763, requiring them to be re-purchased through King George III. In 1768, the British government authorized Sir William Johnson to make the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, purchasing land rights from the Iroquois, in accordance with the Proclamation of 1763. Samuel Wharton and William Trent applied for a "despoiled traders" land grant in 1768, to get approved by the British Crown, they joined with a number of other land speculators to form the Walpole Company, named for Thomas Walpole, a British lawyer involved in the endeavor.
The goal was acquiring 2.5 million acres of Ohio Country land. Benjamin Franklin was one of the seventy-two shareholders, as well as included George Croghan and Sir William Johnson; the Walpole Company, Indiana Company, members of the Ohio Company reorganized, on December 22, 1769, formed the Grand Ohio Company. In 1772, the Grand Ohio Company received from the British government a grant of a large tract lying along the southern bank of the Ohio as far west as the mouth of the Scioto River. A colony to be called "Vandalia" was planned. However, the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War interrupted colonization and nothing was accomplished; the company, based in London, ceased operations in 1776. The Ohio Company of Associates was organized in 1786, composed of New England veterans wh
George Mason IV was an American planter and delegate to the U. S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution, his writings, including substantial portions of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, his Objections to this Constitution of Government in opposition to ratification, have exercised a significant influence on American political thought and events. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason principally authored, served as a basis for the United States Bill of Rights, of which he has been deemed the father. Mason was born in 1725, most in what is now Fairfax County, Virginia, his father died when he was young, his mother managed the family estates until he came of age. He married in 1750, built Gunston Hall, lived the life of a country squire, supervising his lands and slaves, he served in the House of Burgesses and involved himself in community affairs, sometimes serving with his neighbor George Washington.
As tensions grew between Britain and the American colonies, Mason came to support the colonial side, used his knowledge and experience to help the revolutionary cause, finding ways to work around the Stamp Act of 1765 and serving in the pro-independence Fourth Virginia Convention in 1775 and the Fifth Virginia Convention in 1776. Mason prepared the first draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776, his words formed much of the text adopted by the final Revolutionary Virginia Convention, he wrote a constitution for the state. During the American Revolutionary War, Mason was a member of the powerful House of Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly but, to the irritation of Washington and others, he refused to serve in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, citing health and family commitments. Mason was in 1787 named one of his state's delegates to the Constitutional Convention and traveled to Philadelphia, his only lengthy trip outside Virginia. Many clauses in the Constitution bear his stamp, as he was active in the convention for months before deciding that he could not sign it.
He cited the lack of a bill of rights most prominently in his Objections, but wanted an immediate end to the slave trade and a supermajority for navigation acts, which might force exporters of tobacco to use more expensive American ships. He failed to attain these objectives there, again at the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788, but his prominent fight for a bill of rights led fellow Virginian James Madison to introduce one during the First Congress in 1789. Obscure after his death, Mason has come to be recognized in the 20th and 21st centuries for his contributions both to the early United States and to Virginia. George Mason's great-grandfather, George Mason I, had been a Cavalier: militarily defeated in the English Civil War, some of them came to America in the 1640s and 1650s, he had been born in 1629 in the English county of Worcestershire. The immigrant George Mason settled in what is now Stafford County, having obtained land as a reward for bringing his party to the colony as 50 acres were awarded for each person transported into the Colony of Virginia.
His son, George Mason II, was the first to move to what in 1742 became Fairfax County at the frontier between English and Native American areas. George Mason III served in the House of Burgesses and, like his father, was county lieutenant. George Mason IV's mother, Ann Thomson Mason, was the daughter of a former Attorney General of Virginia who had immigrated from London and was of a Yorkshire family; the Masons lived in a colonial Virginia that had few roads, as most commerce was carried on Chesapeake Bay or along the waters of its tributaries, such as the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. Most settlement took place near the rivers. Thus, colonial Virginia developed few towns, since estates were self-sufficient, could get what they needed without the need to purchase locally; the capital, saw little activity when the legislature was not in session. Local politics was dominated by large landowners like the Masons; the Virginia economy rose and fell with tobacco, the main crop, raised for export to Britain.
Into this world was born George Mason, fourth of that name, on December 11, 1725. He may have been born at his father's plantation on Dogue's Neck, but this is uncertain as his parents lived on their lands across the Potomac in Maryland. On March 5, 1735, George Mason III died, his widow Ann raised their son George and two younger siblings as co-guardian with lawyer John Mercer, their uncle by marriage, having wed George Mason III's sister Catherine. Ann Mason selected property at Chopawamsic Creek as her dower house and there lived with her children and administered the lands that her elder son would control upon reaching his 21st birthday. In 1736, George began his education with a Mr. Williams, hired to teach him for the price of 1,000 pounds of tobacco per annum. George's studies began at his mother's house, but the following year, he was boarded out to a Mrs. Simpson in Maryland, with Williams continuing as teacher through 1739. By 1740, George Mason was again under the tutelage of a Dr. Bridges.
Mason's biographers have speculated that this was Charles Bridges, who helped develop the sc
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, each side supported by military units from the parent country and by American Indian allies. At the start of the war, the French colonies had a population of 60,000 settlers, compared with 2 million in the British colonies; the outnumbered French depended on the Indians. The European nations declared a wider war upon one another overseas in 1756, two years into the French and Indian war, some view the French and Indian War as being the American theater of the worldwide Seven Years' War of 1756–63; the name French and Indian War is used in the United States, referring to the two enemies of the British colonists, while European historians use the term Seven Years' War, as do English-speaking Canadians. French Canadians call it the Fourth Intercolonial War; the British colonists were supported at various times by the Iroquois and Cherokee tribes, the French colonists were supported by Wabanaki Confederacy member tribes Abenaki and Mi'kmaq, the Algonquin, Ojibwa, Ottawa and Wyandot tribes.
Fighting took place along the frontiers between New France and the British colonies, from the Province of Virginia in the south to Newfoundland in the north. It began with a dispute over control of the confluence of the Allegheny River and Monongahela River called the Forks of the Ohio, the site of the French Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the dispute erupted into violence in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in May 1754, during which Virginia militiamen under the command of 22-year-old George Washington ambushed a French patrol. In 1755, six colonial governors met with General Edward Braddock, the newly arrived British Army commander, planned a four-way attack on the French. None succeeded, the main effort by Braddock proved a disaster. British operations failed in the frontier areas of the Province of Pennsylvania and the Province of New York during 1755–57 due to a combination of poor management, internal divisions, effective Canadian scouts, French regular forces, Indian warrior allies.
In 1755, the British captured Fort Beauséjour on the border separating Nova Scotia from Acadia, they ordered the expulsion of the Acadians soon afterwards. Orders for the deportation were given by Commander-in-Chief William Shirley without direction from Great Britain; the Acadians were expelled, both those captured in arms and those who had sworn the loyalty oath to the King. Indians were driven off the land to make way for settlers from New England; the British colonial government fell in the region of Nova Scotia after several disastrous campaigns in 1757, including a failed expedition against Louisbourg and the Siege of Fort William Henry. William Pitt came to power and increased British military resources in the colonies at a time when France was unwilling to risk large convoys to aid the limited forces that they had in New France, preferring to concentrate their forces against Prussia and its allies who were now engaged in the Seven Years' War in Europe. Between 1758 and 1760, the British military launched a campaign to capture French Canada.
They succeeded in capturing territory in surrounding colonies and the city of Quebec. The British lost the Battle of Sainte-Foy west of Quebec, but the French ceded Canada in accordance with the Treaty of Paris. France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi to Great Britain, as well as French Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to its ally Spain in compensation for Spain's loss to Britain of Spanish Florida. France's colonial presence north of the Caribbean was reduced to the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, confirming Great Britain's position as the dominant colonial power in America. In British America, wars were named after the sitting British monarch, such as King William's War or Queen Anne's War. There had been a King George's War in the 1740s during the reign of King George II, so British colonists named this conflict after their opponents, it became known as the French and Indian War; this continues as the standard name for the war in the United States, although Indians fought on both sides of the conflict.
It led into the Seven Years' War overseas, a much larger conflict between France and Great Britain that did not involve the American colonies. Less used names for the war include the Fourth Intercolonial War and the Great War for the Empire. In Europe, the French and Indian War is conflated into the Seven Years' War and not given a separate name. "Seven Years" refers to events in Europe, from the official declaration of war in 1756—two years after the French and Indian War had started—to the signing of the peace treaty in 1763. The French and Indian War in America, by contrast, was concluded in six years from the Battle of Jumonville Glen in 1754 to the capture of Montreal in 1760. Canadians conflate both the American conflicts into the Seven Years' War. French Canadi
History of the United States Constitution
The United States Constitution was written in 1787 during the Philadelphia Convention. The old Congress set the rules the new government followed in terms of writing and ratifying the new constitution. After ratification in eleven states, in 1789 its elected officers of government assembled in New York City, replacing the Articles of Confederation government; the original Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times. The meaning of the Constitution is interpreted and extended by judicial review in the federal courts; the original parchment copies are on display at the National Archives Building. Two alternative plans were developed in Convention; the nationalist majority, soon to be called "Federalists," put forth the Virginia Plan, a consolidated government based on proportional representation among the states by population. The "old patriots," called "Anti-Federalists," advocated the New Jersey Plan, a purely federal proposal, based on providing each state with equal representation; the Connecticut Compromise allowed.
Other controversies developed regarding a Bill of Rights in the original document. The drafted Constitution was submitted to the Confederation Congress, it in turn forwarded the Constitution as drafted to the states for ratification by the Constitutional method proposed. The Federalist Papers provided justification for the Constitution; some states agreed to ratify the Constitution only if the amendments that were to become the Bill of Rights would be taken up by the new government, they were duly proposed in the first session of the First Congress. Once the Confederation Congress certified that eleven states had ratified the Constitution, elections were held, the new government began on March 4, 1789, the Articles Congress dissolved itself. Amendments address individual liberties and freedoms, federal relationships, election procedures, terms of office, expanding the electorate, ending slavery, financing government, consumption of alcohol and Congressional pay. Criticism over the life of the Constitution has centered on expanding democracy and states rights.
On June 4, 1776, a resolution was introduced in the Second Continental Congress declaring the union with Great Britain to be dissolved, proposing the formation of foreign alliances, suggesting the drafting of a plan of confederation to be submitted to the respective states. Independence was declared on July 4, 1776. Although the Declaration was a statement of principles, it did not create a government or a framework for how politics would be carried out, it was the Articles of Confederation that provided the necessary structure to the new nation during and after the American Revolution. The Declaration, did set forth the ideas of natural rights and the social contract that would help form the foundation of constitutional government; the era of the Declaration of Independence is sometimes called the "Continental Congress" period. John Adams famously estimated as many as one-third of those resident in the original thirteen colonies were patriots. Scholars such as Gordon Wood describe how Americans were caught up in the Revolutionary fervor and excitement of creating governments, societies, a new nation on the face of the earth by rational choice as Thomas Paine declared in Common Sense.
Republican government and personal liberty for "the people" were to overspread the New World continents and to last forever, a gift to posterity. These goals were influenced by Enlightenment philosophy; the adherents to this cause seized on English Whig political philosophy as described by historian Forrest McDonald as justification for most of their changes to received colonial charters and traditions. It was rooted in opposition to monarchy they saw as venal and corrupting to the "permanent interests of the people." To these partisans, voting was the only permanent defense of the people. Elected terms for legislature were cut to one year, for Virginia's Governor, one year without re-election. Property requirements for suffrage for men were reduced to taxes on their tools in some states. Free blacks in New York could vote. New Hampshire was thinking of abolishing all voting requirements for men but religion. New Jersey let women vote. In some states, senators were now elected by the same voters as the larger electorate for the House, judges were elected to one-year terms.
These "radical Whigs" were called the people "out-of-doors." They distrusted not only any small, secretive group as being unrepublican. Crowds of men and women massed at the steps of rural Court Houses during market-militia-court days. Shays Rebellion is a famous example. Urban riots began by the out-of-doors rallies on the steps of an oppressive government official with speakers such as members of the Sons of Liberty holding forth in the "people's "committees" until some action was decided upon, including hanging his effigy outside a bedroom window, or looting and burning down the offending tyrant's home; the government of the First and Second Continental Congress, the period from September 1774 to March 1, 1781 is referred to as the Revolutionary Congress. Beginning in 1777, the substantial powers assumed by Congress "made the league of states as cohesive and strong as any similar sort of republican confederation in history"; the process created the United States "by the people in collectivity, rather than by the individual states", because only four had state constitutions at the time of the Declaration of Independence founding the nation, three of those were provisional.
Prior to the Articles of Confederation, the Articles Congress, the Supreme Court in Ware v. Hylton and again in Penhallow v. Doane's Administrator
Virginia Ratifying Convention
The Virginia Ratifying Convention was a convention of 168 delegates from Virginia who met in 1788 to ratify or reject the United States Constitution, drafted at the Philadelphia Convention the previous year. The Convention met and deliberated from June 2 through June 27 in Richmond at the Richmond Theatre, presently the site of Monumental Church. Judge Edmund Pendleton, Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention, served as the convention's president by unanimous consent; the Convention met from June 2–27, 1788, in the wooden "Old Capitol" building at Richmond VA, elected Edmund Pendleton its presiding officer. The Virginia Ratifying Convention narrowly approved joining the proposed United States under a Constitution of supreme national law as authorized by "We, the People" of the United States. James Madison led those in favor, Patrick Henry, delegate to the First Continental Convention and Revolutionary wartime governor, led those opposed. Governor Edmund Randolph, who had refused to sign the Constitution in the Philadelphia Convention, chose in Virginia's Ratifying Convention to support adoption.
George Mason had refused to sign due to the lack of a Bill of Rights in Philadelphia and would continue in his opposition. The Virginia ratification included a recommendation for a Bill of Rights, Madison subsequently led the First Congress to send the Bill of Rights to the states for ratification. On receiving the proposed Constitution from the Philadelphia Convention, Congress initiated a ratification procedure for the proposed Constitution which by-passed the sitting state legislatures, going directly to the people of the country, state by state. Four delegates, James Madison with Edmund Randolph for the Federalists and Patrick Henry with George Mason for the Anti-federalists made most of the speeches of the Convention. An early estimate gave the Federalists seeking ratification a slim margin of 86 to Anti-Federalists rejecting at 80, with four unknowns. Federalists came from the Tidewater and Northern Neck, the Shenandoah Valley and western counties, although the Kentucky counties along the Ohio River feared being abandoned to the Spanish under the new government.
The Anti-federalists found strength in the central Piedmont and southwest counties. Unlike the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, the Virginia Ratifying Convention was open to the public and crowds filled the galleries along with the press. Delegates changed sides over the debates, demonstrators paraded in the streets, the press churned out accounts of the proceedings along with commentary pamphlets; the Federalist Papers first became a factor in state ratification conventions outside New York in Virginia. Although a majority of Virginians were said to be against adoption of the Constitution, the Anti-federalists had the oratorical advantage with Patrick Henry, the Federalists were better organized under the leadership of judges, trained by George Wythe, former Continental Army officers who aligned with George Washington. Patrick Henry questioned the authority of the Philadelphia Convention to presume to speak for "We, the people" instead of "We, the states". In his view, delegates should have only recommended amendments to the Articles of Confederation.
Consolidated government would put an end to Virginia's liberties and state government. Nine states making a new nation without the rest would abrogate treaties and place Virginia in great peril. Edmund Randolph had changed from his opposition in the Philadelphia Convention to now supporting adoption for the sake of preserving the Union, he noted that the Confederation was "totally inadequate" and leading to American downfall. The new Constitution would repair the inadequacies of the Articles. If something were not done, the Union would be lost; the new government should be based on the people who would be governed by it, not the intermediary states. The Constitution should be ratified, along with any "practical" amendments, after the new nation was begun. George Mason countered that a national, consolidated government would overburden Virginians with direct taxes in addition to state taxes, that government of an extensive territory must destroy liberty. Although he conceded that the Confederation government was "inefficient", he wanted a clear line between the jurisdictions of the federal and state governments, including the judiciary, because he feared the shared powers would lead to "the destruction of one or the other."
Madison pointed out that the history of Confederations like that provided in the Articles of Confederation government were inadequate in the long run, both with the ancients and with the modern Germans and Swiss. They brought "confusion", disharmony and foreign invasion. Efficient government can only come from direct operation on individuals, it can never flow from negotiations among a confederation's constituent states; the proposed Constitution creates a republic with each branch of government grounded in the people without hereditary offices. Its mixed nature was both federated and consolidated, but in all cases was based on "the superior power of the people"; the states would remain important because the House of Representatives were chosen by people in each state, the Senate was chosen by the state legislatures. The Constitution limited the national government to enumerated powers; the Virginia Ratification Convention made a final vote on George Wythe's motion to ratify, passing it 89 to 79.
Virginians reserved the right to withdraw from the new government as "the People of the United States", "whenever the powers granted unto it should be perverted to their injury or oppression," but it held that failings in the Constituti
The American Enlightenment was a period of intellectual ferment in the thirteen American colonies in the 17th to 18th century, which led to the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America. The American Enlightenment was influenced by the 17th-century European Enlightenment and its own native American philosophy. According to James MacGregor Burns, the spirit of the American Enlightenment was to give Enlightenment ideals a practical, useful form in the life of the nation and its people; the Enlightenment applied scientific reasoning to politics and religion. It promoted religious tolerance and restored literature and music as important disciplines worthy of study in colleges. "New-model" American style colleges were founded such as King's College New York, the College of Philadelphia. Yale College and the College of William & Mary were reformed. A non-denominational moral philosophy replaced theology in many college curricula. Puritan colleges such as the College of New Jersey and Harvard University reformed their curricula to include natural philosophy, modern astronomy, mathematics.
Among the foremost representatives of the American Enlightenment were presidents of colleges, including Puritan religious leaders Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Clap, Ezra Stiles, Anglican moral philosophers Samuel Johnson and William Smith. The leading political thinkers were John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Paine, George Mason, James Wilson, Ethan Allen, Alexander Hamilton, polymaths Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Leading scientists included Benjamin Franklin for his work on electricity, William Smith for his organization and observations of the Transit of Venus, Jared Eliot for his work in metallurgy and agriculture, the astronomer David Rittenhouse in astronomy and instruments, Benjamin Rush in medical science, Charles Willson Peale in natural history, Cadwallader Colden for his work in botany and town sanitation. Colden's daughter, Jane Colden, was the first female botanist working in America. Count Rumford was a leading scientist in the field of heat; the term "American Enlightenment" was coined in the post-World War II era.
It was not used in the eighteenth century when English speakers referred to a process of becoming "enlightened." Various dates for the American Enlightenment have been proposed, including the dates 1750–1820, 1765–1815, 1688–1815. One more precise start date proposed is the date a collection of Enlightenment books by Colonial Agent Jeremiah Dummer were donated into the library of the small college of Yale at Saybrook Point, Connecticut on or just after October 15, 1714, they were received by a young post-graduate student Samuel Johnson, of Guilford, who studied them. He found, he wrote that, "All this was like a flood of day to his low state of mind", that "he found himself like one at once emerging out of the glimmer of twilight into the full sunshine of open day". Two years in 1716 as a Yale Tutor, Johnson introduced a new curriculum into Yale using the donated Dummer books, he offered what he called "The New Learning", which included the works and ideas of Francis Bacon, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Boyle and literary works by Shakespeare and Addison.
Enlightenment ideas were introduced to the colonists and diffused through Puritan educational and religious networks through Yale College in 1718. Enlightened Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington, fought for and attained religious freedom for minority denominations. According to the founding fathers, the United States should be a country where peoples of all faiths could live in peace and mutual benefit. James Madison summed up this ideal in 1792 saying, "Conscience is the most sacred of all property."A switch away from established religion to religious tolerance was one of the distinguishing features of the era from 1775 to 1818. The passage of the new Connecticut Constitution on October 5, 1818, overturned the 180-year-old "Standing Order" and The Connecticut Charter of 1662, whose provisions dated back to the founding of the state in 1638 and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut; the new constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, disestablished the Congregational church.
Between 1714 and 1818 a great intellectual change took place that changed the British Colonies of America from a distant backwater into a leader in the fields of moral philosophy, educational reform, religious revival, industrial technology, and, most notably, political philosophy. It saw a consensus on a "pursuit of happiness" based political philosophy. After 1780, the Federal-style of American Architecture began to diverge from the Georgian style and became a uniquely American genre. In the fields of literature, poetry and drama some nascent artistic attempts were made in pre-war Philadelphia, but American culture in these fields was imitative of British culture for most of the period and is considered not distinguished. Politically, the age is distinguished by an emphasis upon economic liberty and religious tolerance, as expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence. Attempts to reconcile science and religion resulted in a rejection of p