Feb. 4: Nation and Citizenship in the Age of Revolution

Ethnic Diversity in the Revolutionary Era
-1790 Census shows that less than half of the population in the new U.S. were of English background
English = <50%
African origin = 20%
Scotch-Irish, German, Scottish, French, Spanish, Dutch = 30%
-Slaves and Servants - From the early 1600s until the Revolution, nearly three-fourths of all immigrants to the thirteen colonies arrived as slaves or servants

New Identities in Colonial America
-Creole communities became more fixed around racial hierarchies by the end of the 18th century
-During the Revolution, Americans tried to define principles of membership that included ideals of liberty and equal rights
-Citizenship = "volitional contract" between governed and government (James Kettner)
-Ethnic Tensions (fear of slave uprisings, xenophobia, religious intolerance)

Meanings of Freedom during the Revolution
-Many Americans concluded that a large immigration of slaves, convicts, and servants was incompatible with the egalitarian ideas of the Revolution
-Transformation from immigration of servants, convicts, and slaves to free settlers by the 1780s and 1790s

1790 Naturalization Act: both inclusive and exclusive
First major act of the U.S. government
Declared that free, white men who are resident for two years can be American citizens after taking an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution
Inclusive of European immigrants ("E Pluribus Unum" - out of many, one)
Shows confidence in assimilation
Citizenship = a "volitional contract of governed and government in new system of the 'republic'" (Historian James Kettner)

"Free" and "white" excludes African Americans and American Indians as well as all women as fully participating Americans
Lack of citizenship = lack of political power
Connection of citizenship with both freedom and whiteness would have clear and long-ranging consequences
Whiteness = "American" and "free", but who is "white?"
Blackness = "unfree"
Not until 1952 did naturalization law become totally non-race based

U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (MN Historical Society)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by erikalee published on February 2, 2013 4:08 PM.

Jan. 30: Settlers, Servants, and Slaves in Colonial America was the previous entry in this blog.

Feb. 6: European Immigration and National Expansion in Early 19th Century America is the next entry in this blog.

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