The Critical Period
|Digital History ID 3224|
Older textbooks described the 1780s as the "critical period" of American history. The country, saddled with a wholly inadequate framework of government, was faced by grave threats to its independence:
In domestic affairs:
In foreign affairs:
The label the "critical period" was exaggerated. The 1780s also established the foundation for future economic and geographical growth. Many farmers made a decisive shift away from subsistence farming toward commercial agriculture. One state--Massachusetts--chartered more corporations during the 1780s than existed in all of Europe.
Nevertheless, by 1787, many of the new nation's leaders were convinced that the success of the American Revolution was at risk. They were especially concerned that the tyrannical majorities in state legislatures threatened fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and the rights of property holders.