What Were the Short-Term Effects of the American Revolution?

The short-term effects of the American Revolution included a recession in the former colonies and a number of international revolutions. The war also initiated a broader discussion of the morality of slavery.

One of the primary effects of the war was economic collapse in the former colonies. The war killed and wounded a huge number of potential workers, limiting productive capacities for nascent factories and farms across the country. Additionally, deprived of their guaranteed markets in Great Britain, the new country struggled to find new buyers for the goods it did produce. Inflation, too, was an issue; the new government had printed money and gone into debt to finance its war leaving it in desperate financial straits after winning the peace. The financial pressures on its allies and enemies was also immense. Britain saw dissension after the war, and the French monarch’s support of the war caused further debt. Combined with the Enlightenment sentiments of the rights of the governed, this debt soon sent France into its own revolution in 1789. Finally, the war opened the debate about the morality of slavery: how could a revolution based on individual rights also allow the ownership of human beings. Though freedom was many years in the future, the American Revolution gave abolitionists a moral argument for freedom that eventually resulted in emancipation.