Professor Freeman discusses the national debate over the proposed Constitution, arguing that in many ways, when Americans debated its ratification, they were debating the consequences and meaning of the Revolution. Some feared that a stronger, more centralized government would trample on the rights and liberties that had been won through warfare, pushing the new nation back into tyranny, monarchy, or aristocracy. The Federalist essays represented one particularly ambitious attempt to quash Anti-Federalist criticism of the Constitution. In the end, the Anti-Federalists did have one significant victory, securing a Bill of Rights to be added after the new Constitution had been ratified by the states.
Bailyn, Faces of Revolution, chapter 10
Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, pp. vii-xxxi, lix, #1-10, 15, 21, 33, 70, 84-85
Brown, Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution, pp. 389-438, 451-81
The American Revolution entailed some remarkable transformations--converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause--but it was far more complex and enduring then the fighting of a war. As John Adams put it, "The Revolution was in the Minds of the people... before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington"--and it continued long past America's victory at Yorktown. This course will examine the Revolution from this broad perspective, tracing the participants' shifting sense of themselves as British subjects, colonial settlers, revolutionaries, and Americans.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.