School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 2. Analyze the effects of the American Revolution

Objective a. Analyze how the revolution altered colonial and national governments


The American Revolution altered colonial governments even before the fighting started. Throughout the late 1760s and early 1770s, colonial assemblies were producing resolutions against British policies and encouraging resistance with little deference to their Crown-appointed governors. The colonial assemblies also began to cooperate with one another for the first time, establishing the early foundation for a future national government. Through committees of correspondence established by all colonial assemblies, patriot leaders began to unite all the colonies in thought and action. This process advanced when all of the colonies except Georgia sent delegates to the First Continental Congress in September 1774. The First Continental Congress was not a national governing body, but it did prescribe a set of positions that unified the colonies. By late 1774, the colonial assemblies had assumed all governing authority for their colonies, ignoring their royal governments altogether.

The transition to government of the colonies purely by Americans was complete with the meeting of the Second Continental Congress in May 1775 following the battles of Lexington and Concord. Despite the fact that the Congress disavowed any intention to pursue independence, it, of necessity, began to serve as a national governing body immediately, creating an army and issuing paper currency. By spring 1776, the Second Continental Congress asked the colonies to establish new state governments based on paper constitutions. When independence was declared in July 1776, the Second Continental Congress truly became the new nation's temporary government. The Congress immediately began to draft a national constitution.

The Articles of Confederation were approved in November 1777 and ratified by the states in 1781. In essence, the Articles merely legitimized government as it had existed under the Second Continental Congress. The nation would be governed by a legislature with very limited powers. In hindsight, this structure would prove to be horribly ineffective, but it was perhaps the most appropriate solution in a situation where nationhood had not yet been achieved, attentions had to be focused on winning the war, and people were wary of centralized authority. And, whatever its shortcomings, the Articles of Confederation solidified the dramatic shift from thirteen separate royal governments to a new national government.

Resources for Objective 5.C.2.a: