The American Revolution was a momentous event that changed the face of American politics and government. It ushered in the era of individual freedom, which allowed people to think for themselves rather than having everything dictated by authority figures.
While it certainly wasn’t an easy time for many, it ultimately pulled everyone together. The American Revolution also led to some great changes in the legal system and the passing of new laws as well as amendments to existing statutes. We’ll take a look at the impact of the American Revolution on politics and government so you can better understand where these changes came from and how they affected you today.
Before the American Revolution, most legislative bodies were highly controlled by the upper class. While some colonists did have some say in the affairs of the British Empire, most people didn’t have any say at all. As you might expect, this led to a huge amount of frustration.
While most people were used to being told what to do, it was usually by those in power. With no control over the government and no real say in the direction of the country, people were eager to find a solution.
The American Revolution didn’t just give Americans a new government — it gave them a new way of thinking about government. It made people realize that they weren’t just being governed, they were also being empowered.
Elections and Voting Rights
Before the American Revolution, elections were controlled by the British government. This meant that only people in power were able to vote for officials — and this was generally the case worldwide. However, in America, the colonists were allowed to vote for their leaders.
This was a huge change, and not only because it meant that people had a say in who governed them. It also altered how elections were conducted and what was at stake. Before the American Revolution, there were few restrictions on who could run for office, and elections were often conducted under the threat of violence.
Voting was thus often handled under the guise of keeping people safe. With voting rights now open to all, more people entered the political process and politics became a more legitimate career option.
Freedom of the Press
Printing had been around for hundreds of years, but people didn’t begin using newspapers as a way to disseminate information until the 17th century. Before the American Revolution, though, the British government had a tight grip on printing, both through its control of the press and its control of the postal service.
Printing meant that the British government not only had a tight grip on information, but also a tight grip on how that information was disseminated. The American Revolution had a huge impact on the freedom of the press. Not only did it lead to the growth of newspapers and the rise of the editorial cartoon, but it also led to the growth of a vigorous public debate between people in power and their critics.
Once the British government was replaced, the new American governments needed to find their footing. As a result, the 18th and 19th centuries saw remarkable growth in press freedom, particularly during the tumultuous years of the French Revolution.
Judiciary and Equality
While the American Revolution certainly altered the structure of government, it also altered the way government operated. During the colonial era, the British government had a very clear pattern of using the courts to silence political opposition. This meant that Americans had a longstanding fear of the courts, which resulted in a tendency to avoid them whenever possible.
The American Revolution, though, gave people new ideas about how the courts could be used to support equality and justice. The Revolution brought together people who had been on opposite sides of the law, and it created a new system of law that was based on equality and fairness. This change in thinking had a lasting impact on the legal system, as well as society as a whole.