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U.S. History to Reconstruction

The United States has come a long way as a country, and the needs and worldviews of Americans have changed or advanced all through the distinctive verifiable periods depending on the winning circumstances. The Revolutionary/Early Republic period (1763-1815) and the antebellum period (1815-1860) are two essential periods in America’s history, and students of history accept that Americans had distinctive needs and worldviews within the two authentic periods. The American Insurgency happened amid a period of political and mental turmoil that energized Americans to battle for opportunity from the British colonial run. The needs of Americans at this time were personal flexibility, political rights, and the need to address the disparities of control (Museum of the American Revolution 1). The cruel and onerous British approaches expanded the requirement for extended personal rights and requests for autonomy. On the other hand, the Antebellum can be depicted as a period of social and devout alter. While Americans focused on freedom and the need for individual rights during the Revolutionary/Early Republic era, there was a shift to the need for cultural, social, and religious change in the Antebellum period.

Although it was dangerous to fight the most powerful empire at the time in pursuit of independence, the priority for most Americans at the time was to be free. There was a need for unity at the time of popular support for independence, and Americans had to put aside all their differences and fight for independence. The worldviews of Americans during the independence period were based on the enlightenment of ideals such as the need to safeguard natural rights and the significance of self-governance. Americans recognized the need to have inalienable “natural rights.” According to the Museum of the American Revolution, “…rebellion and independence offered a different type of opportunity to rewrite the rules of society” (2). Political independence and the right to representation were priorities for Americans during the American Revolution, which is why Americans fought a physical war with Britain.

Nationalism was entrenched in the American psyche during this period, and there was limited focus on religious or racial differences. This is captured in the claim that “That so excellent a scheme is so likely to be so generally complied with raises our hopes, and demonstrates that the sons of America are not afraid nor ashamed to be her advocates against tyranny and oppression, tho’ obtruding themselves under the sanction of a law” (Marvel 2). As a result, there were calls to end slavery and resist colonial rules. Political and economic independence were the aims of the Republican Revolution. The pursuit of happiness was another priority during the Revolutionary/Early Republic era. This would come through liberty and being granted natural rights. In the Early Republic era, citizens were more involved in governance through political participation (PBS par. 1). The American society became more meritocratic and egalitarian. Although slavery was not abolished at this point, organized abolitionist movements were allowed to operate during this era. This set the stage for abolition, which happened approximately one century later. Americans had to stick together during religious fragmentation, evolving governmental structures, and massive population shifts (PBS par. 3). There was a need for economic revival after the Declaration of Independence that led to the birth of a new entrepreneurial spirit among Americans.

A Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to ensure tame any potentially oppressive federal government because Americans had not forgotten the oppression they had suffered under British colonial rule. Having a common Constitution and central government helped stabilize the economy and bring some certainty to government (PBS par. 7). Americans began to abandon British traditions, changing roles and traditions. This set the stage for the Antebellum period, characterized by cultural changes. However, it is essential to note that slavery remained legal, and women enjoyed less Republican freedom compared to men. Americans had a sense of freedom and focused on establishing an orderly society that would guarantee the new nation’s survival (PBS par. 7). Thus, the priority was freedom and individual rights.

The Antebellum era between 1815 and 1860 can described as an era of cultural and religious change where the Americas prioritized cultural revival. Baigell argues that this was an era of “American individualism, self-reliance, providential protection, middle-class morality, and the establishment of a nation of continental dimensions” (3). American culture and art was born during this period as the country began to showcase its imperial tendencies. Racial differences were revived during this period as the country embarked on expansionism under Manifest Destiny. This was a Colonial and Revolutionary era, religious patterns were dismantled during this period (Locks et al. 584). This led to the emergence of new denominations as Americans embraced religious freedom. Some religious denominations that emerged during this period include the Unitarianism, Millerites, Shakers, and Mormons. This was a period of increased industrialization and urbanization as Americans sought to benefit from the social and cultural changes brought by the market revolution. The market revolution led to many changes in American society, including enhanced class differences and socio-economic inequalities (Locks et al. 584). This set the stage for a reform impulse in the country as Americans felt that it was time to restore order in a society that was experiencing a major upheaval as a result of the market revolution.

The focus of Americans during the Antebellum era was moral and social reform. The market revolution had a social and cultural upheaval that was threatening the unity and stability of American society. The abolitionism movement that had begun in the Early Republican era got new impetus during this period. Some of the moral and social reforms that dominated this period included seeking to improve asylum and prison conditions, establishing greater rights for women, ending slavery, providing basic education for all, and promoting temperance (Locks et al. 584). The transcendentalist movement also brought in an era of American literature and intellectualism. According to Locks et al., “Each of these movements, religious, moral, and reform, stressed a belief in the basic goodness of human nature, and in its way, each of the movements sought to perfect humankind and society” (584). Thus, the priority of Americans in this period was social, cultural, religious, and moral reform to address the challenges of the market revolution.

Slavery grew into an institution in the Southern States during the Antebellum era and was no longer viewed as an awkward practice. Supporters of slavery opposed the abolitionist movement. America became a stratified society as wealth inequality increased. Slavery became a major issue in national politics, threatening the Republic’s unity and stability (Locks et al. 600). Planation agriculture was the main economic activity in the South, while manufacturing performed poorly. This young nation was trying to build itself from many years of colonial rule. Despite the social, cultural, and economic challenges, there was a deliberate effort by Americans to bring religious revival, moral reform, and education reform that would set the young nation on the right path toward growth and stability (Locks et al. 600). The different viewpoints divided the country into two and was the leading cause of the Civil War. In the early years of the antebellum era, the North experienced massive industrialization and manufacturing. Leading business people and industrialists prioritized establishing a national infrastructure that would help unify the young nation.

In conclusion, it is evident from this discussion that while Americans focused on freedom and the need for individual rights during the Revolutionary/Early Republic era, there was a shift to the need for cultural, social, and religious change in the Antebellum period. These are two critical historical eras that shaped the American society. Americans put aside their differences during the Revolution to fight for freedom and self-governance. Colonial oppression made them prioritize individual rights and freedom as they gained independence. On the other hand, the social and cultural upheaval caused by the Antebellum era’s market revolution made Americans prioritize social, religious, cultural, and moral society to restore order in the stratified society. This era of reform movements brought social, cultural, and intellectual change to American society.

Works Cited

Baigell, Matthew. “Territory, race, religion: Images of manifest destiny.” Smithsonian Studies in American Art 4.3/4 (1990): 3-21.

Locks, Catherine et al. History in the Making A History of the People of the United States of America to 1877. University Press of North Georgia, 2013.

Marvel, Andrew. “Containing matters interesting to liberty, and no wise repugnant to loyalty.” The Constitutional Courant, no. 1, 1765.

Museum of the American Revolution. “Support for Independence.” Museum of the American Revolution,

PBS. “After the Revolution.” WGBH Educational Foundation, 2023,


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