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In the post-revolutionary United States, they set forth in building a government that did not mirror the monarchial one they fought their independence from. “Conflicts in Europe helped to fuel the growth of the first U.S. political partied, which reflected deep disagreements among Americans about how their new government should work.”2 During 1789-1815 American politics were shaped by outside nations. Example of these influences included, the French Revolution, slave rebellions in the Caribbean, and the War of 1812.
The French experienced their own revolution that Americans believed was a result of their American Revolution victory. At the beginning Americans supported the French pursuit of independence, but French revolts would begin to spread fear amongst the American government. The French Revolution made a radical move that would be known as “The Terror” in France.2 “The Terror” was a series of executions of anyone who opposed the liberation movement.2 Seeing the radicalism in France made Americans realize, “the revolt would support or disrupt American politics.”2 They believed the revolts would spark radical movements within the United States. This fear began with the Whiskey Rebellion, which was squashed by Washington who would use “unprecedented executive power.”2
As a result of French Revolution, Slavery was abolished in France which gave fuel to rebellions happening in other nations, especially the slave rebellions in Saint-Domingue. “Led by charismatic former slave Toussaint Louverture, the rebels switched to the French Revolutionary cause in 1794 after the French Government abolished slavery.”2 The slave rebellions in Saint-Domingue were on track to independence, which was received in 1804. These rebellions again sparked fear in Americans that slaves would get the same idea. “Plantation societies built on bondage, prejudice, and inequality were peculiarly vulnerable to the ideology of revolutionary France, but the dramatic example of self-liberation offered by Saint-Domingue’s transformation into Haiti bought the message much closer to home.”1 Which happened with Gabriel’s rebellion in Virginia. Gabriel was a Virginia slave who was hired out by his master, which gave him ability to spread his cause. He led a march on Richmond, but he was betrayed, tried, and executed.2 His revolt resulted in extremely strict slave codes to deter future rebellious ideas from slaves.
The United States attempted to stay neutral in the French and English conflicts, but wouldn’t succeed during the War of 1812. “The United States entered the War of 1812…The War Hawks hoped to guarantee “free trade and sailors’ rights,” to expel Britain from North America, and to pacify Indian nations who they felt stood in the way of American expansion in the West.”2 Native Americans wanted to stop the growing invasion in the west and sided with Britain. Also, the Federalist opposed the war and problems arouse, as seen in the Baltimore riots. Despite internal conflicts the United States fought victorious battles on the sea and the land against the British. Some battles were lost, but by 1814 England wanted the war to end. The Treaty of Ghent, signed at the end of 1814, British promised to leave American territory, both sides would make peace with Native nations, and promised future talks about the Canadian border.2 Only resolving part of the problem and didn’t address the interception of American ships and trade conflicts that lead to the United States entering the war. Also, the United States would not abide by the treaty, in regards to making peace with the Native Americans and returning the land claimed during the war. Instead, the United States claimed more land afterwards.
As the United States learns to navigate the world and find their place among the other nations. They would be back at war with Britain, which would result in pushing the British out of America and claiming more land post-war. It would also shine a light on the dismay with in its own borders. Revolts and rebellions in other nations would shape American politics as Americans would attempt to stop the same from happening in the United States. This fear would result in stricter slave codes and government overreach.
American Politics were influenced by other nations in many ways. State constitutions were influenced by royal charters and colonial decrees. Each state pursued economic policies, contracted debts, and pursued land claims with a minimum of coordination between them. (Schaller,2018). They kept many of their traditional decrees, but States wanted to let go of colonial governors who represented royal authority. So they limited the power of governors and established governors councils appointed by the elected legislatures. Each state established a balance between executive, legislative, and judicial powers, in keeping with the political idea of separation of powers articulated by the French Enlightenment philosopher the Baron DE Montesquieu (Schaller,2018). New Federal union restored and idealized imperial regime that promoted colonization through the technology of flow(Onuff,2015). State constitutions consolidated the local legal authority of post colonial regimes, and new state advocates sought congressional recognition for their own colonizing projects (Onuff,2015).
Another way American politics was influenced by other nations was the writing of the constitution. In which Britain inspired. The English bill of rights was an act the parliament of England, passed to give a separation of power. The document also ensured the rights of everyone,giving the citizens protections. The Founding fathers knowledge of the English Bill of rights set in motion the document “Bill of rights’ to be drafted. The Bill of rights provided specific freedom to the citizens and limited the power of the government. Without Knowledge of the English Bill of Rights, there would be no Bill of rights.
American politics was also affected by the reign of the King of England. The corruption they felt steaming from being ruled under a monarch made it was very important that the nation not be ruled by one leader. They were afraid that it would lead to repeat corruption and an unfair government in which they had seen before with the King of England. Because of what the colonist endured under the King’s reign they had an idea of what type of government they wanted and what they wanted their nation to be. They knew they did not want to be ruled under a monarch. They wanted a government that could’t be corrupted, and that would protect the rights of all citizens. Their past experiences, and ideas helped them create many government systems limiting the power of leaders. Articles of Confederation were also created and limited centralized power and reserved lesion making to the states.
Ideas of individual rights and freedom, sparked a chain of revolutions and influenced European and American politics in the 19th century. As the Americans rejected the British empire, independent Americans perpetuated the old empires colonization project creating a new federal constitution structure that guaranteed the rights of member states and the equity of new members(Onuff, 2015). This would go on to be the backbone for which this constitution stands on still till this day.
American politics between 1789 and 1815 were largely thanks to Britain. Had it not been for Britain’s treatment of the colonies (taxes and representation) who knows where the United States would be currently.
When the United States decided they wanted emancipation from Britain they had a good starting point. They knew they didn’t want a monarchy in their new country, so they adopted a Democracy, seen first in ancient Greece around fifth century B.C.E. “The word “democracy” comes from two Greek words that mean people (demos) and rule (kratos)” (National Geographic Society, 2019) They wanted their people to be able to decide who would rule them, although they didn’t exactly have a solid plan to execute these votes till later on.
As for their government, they wanted to make sure that no one person or office had to much power, so they adopted the principle, Separation of Powers. “The name most associated with the doctrine of the separation of powers is that of Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron Montesquieu.” (Online Library of Liberty, 2016) Though Montesquieu did not invent this principle himself, he defined it differently and put more attention on different parts than the previous English writers. John Locke took Montesquieu’s writings and created the early American Checks and Balances.
“In the first quarter of the 19th century, an ideology that valued land and farming underlay much of the energetic movement within the United States” (Schaller, 2018, 303) During that time they had much to thank the native Americans for. “Early European settlers learned from various native tribes how to effectively farm the land, especially when cultivating crops unfamiliar to the Europeans.” (Cavallari, 2020) Much of the money that the United States received during the early days of their formation was thanks to farming. Thomas Jefferson even referred to farming as “the most useful of the occupations of man” The need for agricultural land influenced much of the decisions early presidents made.
One way the government of the American colonies were shaped was based on “what not to do” since they had previously been under the rule of the British. They knew that they did not want to model the new formed government based on how the British Government worked. The American colonies did not want to have a monarch and a family that would remain in power; instead they wanted to have political freedom and allow the people to choose who would lead the new government.
The Native Americans were less territorial and greedy than any other form of government. The Native Americans did not have a “king” or “president”. Their tribal leaders were men who were spiritually strong and were elders. These men “possessed knowledge and had earned the respect of the people” (TAIL). The Native American Indians trusted this man of their tribe, obeyed his word and thoughtfully took his advice into consideration, and this elder led his tribe. In the American government the president is also a trusted man of the country, and is chosen to lead the country.
The first democracy known is that of the Athens around the fifth century B.C.E. In the Athen’s democracy all citizens were supposed to participate, if not resulting in a fine. The citizens were only the free men – no enslaved men, women, or children. The Athens also randomly picked a group of men to serve politically for a one year term and they were held responsible for making new rules and the other citizens would vote on the new rules created. This is much like the American government. There is a group of citizens, but can be men and women, that create new laws and the other citizens vote. The citizens within the American government have a voice just like with the Athen’s government since it is a democracy. Unlike the Athen democracy, the American democracy is labeled as a representative democracy, this “is a government in which citizens vote for representatives who create and change laws that govern the people rather than getting to vote directly on the laws themselves” (Nation Geo.).