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.