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Revolution and the New Nation

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

Runaway Slave Advertisement, 1758

Located among the odds and ends of Accomack County court records is this 1758 advertisement from Landon Carter of Richmond County for his runaway slave Will.  The advertisement is typical of runaway ads in that it seeks to provide as much information…

Jenny Parker, Petition to Remain in Virginia, 1813

CONTENT WARNING: Materials in the Library of Virginia's collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethinicity, and nationality; enslaved…

Inhabitants of Fauquier County, Petition Regarding the Separation of Church and State, 1785

On the eve of the passage of the Statute for Religious Freedom, numerous citizens and religious denominations bombarded the General Assembly with petitions advocating both for and against a tax (called an "assessment") to support Protestant…

Terms of Capitulation of Fort Necessity, 1754

In January 1754, Virginia's lieutenant governor, Robert Dinwiddie, sent a small force of Virginia soldiers to build a fort at the forks of the Ohio River, where Pittsburgh now stands. The stockade was barely finished when they were driven off by a…