America is a nation with years of history engraved in itself. Each events are divided into specific time periods in history. Among all the periods, Period III ranging from 1754-1800 is most relevant at displaying the evolution of the idea of “Liberty,” in America. The evolution can be presented through the continued practices of ideas and the changes that occurred from 1754-1800. Some continuity from period III included the idea of self government among colonies and the ongoing slavery of African-Americans along with the mistreatment of the Native Americans which provided liberty to the colonists while stripping the other race from their freedom. On the other hand, the changes with the replacement of Articles of Confederation with Constitution and the Britain’s introduction of the Quartering Acts developed a new idea of Liberty in America.
First, the idea of self governing existed since years ago among colonies. Prior to the American Revolution, the colonies operated independently and followed their rules, occasionally supporting the British empire through the collected taxes. So, the intention of self government followed through, as the colonies overthrew the British monarchy and aristocracy in order to form the United States of America where they created their own government, laws and rules called the Constitution. Being able to govern themselves was a sense of liberty the colonies highly prioritized and sought after which was one of the many reasons that motivated them to fight the American Revolution in 1765-1783.
Along with the idea of self government, the slavery of African-American and the mistreatment of Native Americans continued which provided a sense of an ironic “liberty” that gave freedom to the Caucasian males to enslave and strip freedom from people of other race. The Articles of Confederation and the later Constitution, explicitly supported the slavery with the three-fifths compromise of 1787 where slaves only counted as a three-fifth of an actual citizen. In a caucasian, male dominant society, African-Americans were stripped from their human rights and owned as nothing more than a property. This became an ideal of liberty for large number of colonists to own other people. Also, as the text stated in ‘The Ordinance of 1787’, “The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken away from them without their consent.” This statement implies that Native Americans were still treated unfairly in Period III as their lands were forcefully taken away and they were stripped from their rights. While it was considered a sense of freedom and independence to do so. So, the notion of self government continued throughout the Period III along with the harsh mistreatment of Natives and the cruel slavery of African-Americans in the colonies which were all considered a part of “liberty” to the citizens of of the thirteen colonies.
Although various ideas and events assisted the idea of “liberty” to remain consistent through 1765-1783, there were other events and movements that lead to the evolution of “liberty” for the citizens of America. One of the examples is the “Sons of Liberty” founded in 1765. They were a group of people who wanted to protect the rights of colonists and fought against the “Stamp Acts” that imposed harsh British taxes on the colonies. Sons of Liberty changed the meaning of liberty as being able to protest against the British parliament policies and free the colonies from the British claw. This demonstrates that they perceived liberty as having the power to change and create their own nation. Another example stated, “There shall never be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory” and “..Indians; their lands, property and rights shall never be taken aways from them” (The Ordinance of 1787). This shows that even if only for the benefit of the government to gain territory, the idea of liberty among people were changing. People began to associate liberty with equal rights for everyone, regarding race or gender and saw the cruelty of enslaving the slaves. The slavery continued in Period III, however people’s evolving view on liberty affected how they saw slavery and mistreatment of Indians as. Also, the Articles of Confederation and the Bill of Rights introduced in the Constitution of America drastically altered the idea of liberty. The Bill of Rights ratified in 1789 transferred the idea of freedom from the states to individuals. State’s held more authority, and had a say in matter, but from 1789, people had more freedom to religion, press and speech etc. The notion of liberty commenced from the desire to create a new nation to the power to the states and finally freedom to each individual.
Therefore, with a nation like America that has a long history some ideas about liberty are bound to evolve with each events while the others could stay the same in Period III. People’s view on slavery, freedom for everyone, and independence from british empire gradually altered, however the desire to self govern and the actual slavery and mistreatment of people from other races continued throughout the 1754-1800. Thus, this specific period truly reveals evolving nature of liberty in the American history.