When the colonies took the drastic step of going to war against Great Britain to gain their independence, their leaders wanted to make sure that their new government would not suffer from the same failings as their previous one. First and foremost on the list of the contributions the Revolution made to United States political culture would be the insistence on liberty and equality as laid out by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.
The Right To Participate
The American Revolution was a revolution against a form of government that the American founding fathers felt robbed them of the right to participate in deciding their own futures. Prominent in the new American political system is the right of the American people to self-government, which means choosing their own leaders. After the end of the war, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia to create a coherent national governing system and a representational way to elect the President, via the vote of each of the state’s legislatures.
Freedom To Be Adversarial
Another legacy of the Revolution was America’s insistence on freedom of speech and assembly, both of which are essential parts of our political system. This can sometimes mean an adversarial political culture. In the first two elections in American history, George Washington ran unopposed, but 1796 saw the first contested presidential election in American history, in which the newly formed Federalist and Democratic-Republican political parties fought hard to win the presidency. Dirty politics would abound in American elections, but this demonstrated that Americans had the right to say what they think, something lacking under British rule.
Federalist John Adams won the 1796 election, but Democrat-Republican Thomas Jefferson came in second under the rules of the Electoral College at that time and thus became Adams’s vice-president. Although this was not an ideal situation, it showed yet another valuable contribution of the Revolution -- that political change could take place within a system where an opposition party was considered legitimate.
No National Religion
Another contribution of the Revolution was the deliberate absence of a nationally established religion -- as it says in First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” American colonists saw that the Church of England had deep ties to the English government and did not want any one party to become dominant simply because it was tied to a religion that the government held to be the official one of the country.
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