You Say You Want a Revolution

Perhaps the most radical consequence of the American Revolution was the creation of a self-governing republic in North America at the expense of the Native Americans whose land that republic would occupy–and expand into. The new republic, which guaranteed the rights and liberties of its citizens, excluded Native Americans from these, thereby rendering those rights privileges. Article 1, section 2, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution as ratified in 1789 stated:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons (emphasis added).

This, of course, is the three-fifths clause, which declared infamously that African American slaves should only be counted as a proportion of the free population. The clause takes as given the exclusion of Native Americans, not only from taxation but from citizenship as well. Just as Jefferson had linked the treachery of slaves and Native Americans in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution excluded these two groups from the benefits of the Revolution. Native Americans remained for decades largely excluded from the rights and benefits which the new nation conferred on its citizens. The rights, liberty, and equality so eloquently asserted by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence and won by the American rebels in a lengthy and prolonged struggle came at the expense of Native Americans. The biggest losers in the American Revolution were not the British, whose empire thrived after the loss of America, but the first Americans.

Indeed, Indians were denied citizenship under the federal Constitution and were excluded from full participation in the republican polity created by the American Revolution until the adoption of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Some Native Americans had become citizens prior to 1924 due to military service or marriage or by special treaties or statutes. Many Native Americans remained excluded from citizenship, however. The 1924 Indian Citizenship Act extended citizenship to all Native Americans born within the United States.

–Francis Cogliano, Revolutionary America, A Political History 1763-1815 3rd ed., pp. 214-15, 217n.23.

From Claudio Saunt, “The Invasion of America,” Aeon, January 2015.

4 thoughts on “You Say You Want a Revolution

  1. For sheer chutzpah, it’s hard to beat this item from Arutz Sheva on the U.S. Embassy’s Independence Day celebrations in Jerusalem.

    The disingenuousness begins in the second paragraph:

    “It’s the first time in the history of the State of Israel that our embassy has held its Independence Day event in the city of Jerusalem,” Ambassador Friedman said in his address. “Welcome to history.”

    It’s the first time in the history of the State of Israel that the U.S. embassy has held its Independence Day event in the city of Jerusalem because it’s the first time the U.S. embassy has been in Jerusalem for long enough to hold one: the embassy opened in May 2018, but didn’t fully integrate consular functions until October 2018.

    But contrary to the impression Friedman gives, it’s not the first time that the U.S. diplomatic corps has held an Independence Day celebration in Jerusalem. Previously, the Independence Day celebration was held at the now-defunct U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem on Agron Road. My friend Rawan Dajani and I attended the one that took place there in 2015. It was a pleasant if somewhat banal affair, but the food was pretty good, and at least no one tried to ram divine command theory down our throats.

    But enough rancor and nitpicking: let me end on an eirenic note. In the words of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman,

    To understand this connection between the birth of our nation and the city of Jerusalem is to understand all that has transpired since between Israel and the United States. It is to understand why the pilgrims risked their lives in the 17th century to reach a new world and establish what many of them referred to as the new Jerusalem.

    It certainly is, Ambassador. Welcome to history.


  2. Well, from a woman’s point of view, they didn’t fare all that well, either. Perhaps were citizens, but property rights? Voting rights? Rights not to be raped by husbands? Little things like that were something of a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well, why wouldn’t they? I mean someone has to look after us (in addition to ourselves obviously), and if has to be a koala, so be it! You don’t think that Hugo’s looking out for anyone but his own interests, do you?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s