Early American Political Tradition




Early American Political Tradition

Many of the people who came to America were seeking freedom. They wanted to be free to practice their religion. Others were fleeing from wars and persecutions in their country, while others were seeking better economic opportunities. It is clear that from the very beginning, the people did not want to be controlled as they had been in their former countries. They wanted freedom and they resisted any attempts to control them. Despite this, the new nation had colonies. Different European countries including Britain and France controlled different areas of the new land. Many of the colonies adopted the Mayflower Compact, which allowed self-governance (Schmidt, Shelley and Bardes 40). Although they did not answer to the British parliament, they recognized the king’s authority. George Washington led the new nation in fighting against France, who sought to expand its borders and colonies. He and his army were still under the Britain. He and his troops managed to defeat France and they managed to secure the upper Mississippi area.

The new settlers showed their resistance by opposing the new tax laws imposed on them by the British government. They were especially opposed to laws, which were passed by the British parliament, as they did not have representation. For instance, they opposed the Sugar Act of 1764, which was initially meant to finance the war against France. The tax meant that they had to pay taxes on molasses. They also opposed the Stamp Act, which was introduced two years later. The act required them to affix stamps on imported goods and other products such as official documents and newspapers. The colonists opposed these moves by forming groups whose main purpose was to oppose the British rule. Other than rejecting the passed laws, the colonists also showed their opposition by engaging in physical battles with the representatives from Britain. For instance, the settlers led the fight against the British troops in Boston, which led to the Boston massacre.

The patriots were opposed to British rule and they called for dissension. They wanted self-governance without interference from Britain. Delegates from different colonies met at the first continental congress in 1774. After the meeting, the delegates decided that they do not want to trade with Britain. In addition, they would not follow any of their rules regarding taxation. The colonists resisted the British troops when they attempted to seize military stores in Massachusetts in 1775. They proceeded to form the declaration of independence the following year, which reaffirmed their independence. The colonists realized both victories and losses during the revolutionary war, which lasted for six years. They fought against the British in an attempt to control some states but they were poorly equipped. They did not relent in their quest and this led to them gaining support from France. Eventually, Britain declared an end to the war in 1783 by signing the Treaty of Paris (Schmidt, Shelley and Bardes 41).

Some of the people supported federalism, as they believed that this was the only way that the country could progress. Others were opposed to the idea of having a central government. These were the Republicans and they opposed any form of monarchy and the restraining of locals groups (Schmidt, Shelley and Bardes 41). They believed that using local and state governments was the best way to lead the country. This method would curtail the powers of the central government and give more power to the people. The formation of the Democratic Party was one of the ways that the people used to protest centralism by the national government. Part of the causes of the civil wars was that some states wanted to have the right to secede. They wanted independence from the federal government. The state and the national governments were opposed on issues of supremacy. The states wanted to have the ultimate decisions when its laws and those of the national government collided. In addition, the northern and southern states differed over several issues such as payment of tariffs and slavery (Schmidt, Shelley and Bardes 104). Centralizing the government would not help to resolve all the issues and the states recognized this, a factor that eventually led to the development of the civil war.

The establishment of the articles of confederation was intended to ensure that America could not have a powerful central government, which took away the people’s power. Although the articles recognized the existence of a central government, it gave more power to the states. The articles distinguished between the powers of the state and the national government (Lader 53). The articles of confederation led to many problems, as they were not effective. The national government did not have enough funds to perform its duties, as it was not allowed to tax the states. The constitution was a way of solving some of the problems in the articles of confederation. It recognized the necessity of a national government, and it laid down the powers of the federal, state, and local governments (Sky 43). The formation of the constitution ensured that the president and congress could not control the people by ensuring that there was a system of checks and balances. It contained the bill of rights, which secured different powers for individuals (Lader 56).

Works Cited:

Lader, Curt. Barron’s How to Prepare for the AP U.S. Government and Politics Advanced Placement Examination. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 2002. Print

Schmidt, Steffen, Mack Shelley and Barbara Bardes. American Government and Politics Today 2009-2010 Edition. New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print

Sky, Theodore. To Provide for the General Welfare: A History of the Federal Spending Power. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, 2008. Print

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