Citizenship Post-American Revolution

Hey everyone,

The Junto has given a post talking about some of the issues of citizenship in America following the American Revolution.  It is a great read, here is a taste of it.

“Considered broadly,” says Douglas Bradburn, “the problem of ‘citizenship’ remains one of the most compelling contexts to attempt to understand the process, limits, and meaning of the American Revolution.”[1] This post is a brief exercise in the problem of American citizenship in the immediate post-revolutionary era (and a note towards an article-length project on international law in the new republic). It begins with the dilemma of dealing with the fallout of a civil war like the War of Independence, and it follows the reception of a slightly unexpected figure in the history of American political thought: Thomas Hobbes.

Before the British had even left Charleston, South Carolina’s assembly—held at Jacksonborough in spring, 1782—passed acts of confiscation and amercement against inhabitants who had taken the “protection” of the king during the war: effectively, anyone who had lived within the lines of British occupation. But most of these families could hardly be classified as loyalists, or even (now the war was over) ex-loyalists. The political question, then, was: who can decide who shall be counted as citizens of the republic and on what basis? By stripping them of the franchise, Governor Rutledge had begun to give an answer, and by confiscating their property (without, of course, their representative consent) the assembly had followed his lead. To some South Carolinians, these acts were precedents that threatened basic rights; they were also unjust according to international law.

Read the rest of the article here!

-Phil

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Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

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Posted in Thoughts from Other Historians

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