Virginia Changemakers
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Revolution and the New Nation

Mary Byrd.jpg

The American Revolution is often considered one of the most crucial times of United States history to study, as it lays the groundwork for all political history following it. Not only did it end the colonial relationship with England, but it brought about political change that would not only shape our lives, but would serve as an example for other nations. It also called into question social and political relationships, raising questions of freedom and inalienable rights. Some of America’s most important documents and greatest political minds come from this era. The war itself also was Revolutionary, with successful guerilla-style fighting and the defeat by colonials of well-trained British military forces.

Following the war, the creation of the Constitution and the process of ratification shifted not only the style of government, but also the way in which governments functioned and an increased public investment. This process also called into question the balance of power between federal and state, an issue that would continue to be present in American Politics well after the Constitution of 1787 and the Bill of Rights were completed. Despite strong unity among many in the Revolution, economic, regional, social, ideological, religious, and political tensions did not fade, and in some cases, increased, as America sought to define itself.

Learn more in the National U.S. History Content Standards.

Recently added items

Gowan Pamphlet

Gowan Pamphlet was born enslaved, but persevered to become a well-known preacher, gain his freedom, and establish a Baptist church in Williamsburg that continues as an active congregation today.

Rachel Findlay

The granddaughter of an illegally enslaved Indian woman, Rachel Findlay successfully sued for her freedom and ensured the freedom of many of her descendants.

Dolley Madison

A quintessential hostess, Dolley Madison was at the center of the national political scene for many years and defined the role of First Lady in the 19th century.

Edith Turner (Wané Roonseraw)

Edith Turner, chief of the Nottoway, successfully navigated nineteenth-century Nottoway and Anglo-American societies while she strove to keep the tribe’s children on the reservation.