Concept of personal liberty hailed
Independence left the Americans not only free of domination from abroad but also free to develop a society shaped by the political concepts born of their new environment. Despite the fact that the colonies in their revolt placed most emphasis on the recognition of their rights under the English constitution, they had in actuality been struggling to realize a new political idea of their own-self-government by the people themselves, the basic principle of American democracy. Another political doctrine they held also-the democratic doctrine of local self-government-not to be ruled by laws made thousands of miles away. The American spirit fostered the abolition of legal distinctions between man and man. The suffrage, limited though it was at the close of the Revolution, progressed every decade thereafter to universal suffrage. The "rights of man" concept was published worldwide, and within forty years all the colonies of Spain in continental America had followed the example of England's colonies. Where revolution failed in Europe, emigration secured for individuals the longed-for political freedom in the new world. For to America, from all sections of the old world, came lovers of liberty as soon as the Revolution was ended. Franklin, in France during the war, foretold the migration to America: "Tyranny is so generally established in the rest of the world, that the world, that the prospect of an asylum in America for those who love liberty gives general joy."
In later years Henrich Steffens, a Norwegian, wrote his boyhood impressions of the day the colonial victory was announced in Denmark:
"I still remember vividly the day when the conclusion of peace, the victory of struggling liberty, was celebrated. It was a fair day. In the harbor all the vessels were dressed, their mastheads adorned with long pennants; the most splendid were hoisted on the main flagstaffs, and there were others on the jackstaffs and strung between the masts. There was just wind enough to make flags and pennants fly free....Father had invited home a few guests and, contrary to the prevailing custom, we boys were bidden to table; father explained the significance of this festival, our glasses too were filled with punch and, as toasts were drunk to the success of the new republic, a Danish and a North American flag were hoisted in our garden. . . . Anticipation of the great events to be derived from this victory was in the minds of those rejoicing. It was the friendly morning light of a bloody day in history."