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people places and events in american history

People, Places and Eventsin American History

french and indian war
French and Indian War

A war fought in North America from 1754 to 1763. The British and American colonists fought in the war against the French and their Native American allies, hence the American name for the war. After the war, the British emerged as a strong European power. The Treaty of Paris of 1763 ended the war and France gave all its land east of the Mississippi River Great Britain.

proclamation of 1763
Proclamation of 1763

Despite his previous promise to award western lands to all colonial militiamen who fought in the French and Indian War, after the war King George III issued the Proclamation Line of 1763 prohibiting all settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.

sugar act
Sugar Act

George Grenville, British Prime Minister, was in charge of increasing revenue for Great Britain after the French and Indian War.

Because of the French and Indian War was so costly to the British, they passed the 1764 Sugar Act. This put a three-cent tax on all molasses and sugar imported by the colonies from the French and West indies. The British were determine to enforce the Sugar Act. They sent inspectors to search warehouses and homes. Rewards were offered by the British to citizens who reported smuggling these products. When a smuggler was arrested, the judge who found him guilty received an award. The colonists and merchants objected to taxation without representation. This was one of the first instances in which colonists wanted a say in how much they were taxed.

This is a port and behind it is a molasses plant.

declaratory acts
Declaratory Acts

Following angry protest by colonists, Parliament eventually conceded and repealed the Stamp Act in 1766. Quietly, however, Parliament also passed the Declaratory Act to reserve Britain's right to govern and “bind” the colonies whenever and however it deemed necessary.

The Declaratory Act proved far more damaging than the Stamp Act had ever been, because it emboldened Britain to feel that it could pass strict legislation freely, with few repercussions. It was during the aftermath of the Declaratory Act, from 1766 to 1773, that colonial resistance to the Crown intensified and became quite violent.

growing conflict between britain and america
Growing Conflict Between Britain and America

British Action

Colonial Protest

Colonists protest; some ignore the law.

Colonists raise cry of “no taxation without representation” and boycott British products.

Colonial assemblies pass resolutions. Colonists boycott British products. Sons of Liberty attack Stamp Agents. Stamp Act Congress sends Declaration of Rights and Grievances to Parliament.

Boycott of British goods

Boycott ended; New York refuses to enforce Quartering Act. Colonists ignore Declaratory Act.

Colonial assemblies pass resolutions challenging Parliament’s right to tax them. Colonists boycott British products. Sons of Liberty enforce boycotts.

1763—Proclamation of 1763 forbids colonial settlement west of the Appalachians.

1764—Sugar Act cuts in half the import duty on foreign molasses but enforces law strictly.

1765—Quartering Act requires colonists to furnish food and lodging for British troops.

1765—Stamp Act passed

1766—Repeal of Stamp Act. Parliament passes Declaratory Act stating it rights to tax the colonists.

1767—Townshend Acts impose duties on paper, tea, lead, and other items.

taxation without representation
Taxation without Representation

In protest, the American public began to cry out against “taxation without representation.” In reality, most colonists weren't seriously calling for representation in Parliament; a few minor representatives in Parliament likely would have been too politically weak to accomplish anything substantive for the colonies. Rather, the slogan was symbolic and voiced the colonists' distaste for paying taxes they hadn't themselves legislated.

quartering act
Quartering Act

In 1765, Parliament passed the Quartering Act, which required residents of some colonies to feed and house British soldiers serving in America. This act outraged colonists.

British Soldiers Plundering an American Colonist's Home under the Quartering Act

townsend acts
Townsend Acts

The Townshend Acts 1767, British legislation intended to raise revenue, tighten customs enforcement, and assert imperial authority in America, were sponsored by Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend. They levied import duties on glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. Its purpose was to provide salaries for some colonial officials so that the provincial assemblies could not coerce them by withholding wages.

Americans protested the additional taxes with boycotts and violence--including "tar and feathering.” This led Parliament to altered the Acts in 1770.  Taxes on all items except tea were repealed. The tea tax was retained because it brought in more money and to show Americans that Parliament still had the right to tax them.

the boston massacre
The Boston Massacre

Bostonians, required to house the soldiers in their own homes, resented their presence greatly. Tensions mounted until March 5, 1770, when a mob of angry Bostonians began throwing rocks and sticks at the British troops who were occupying the city. The troops shot several members of the crowd, killing five. Patriots throughout the colonies dubbed the incident a “massacre” and used it to fuel anti-British sentiment.

To prevent serious disorder, Britain dispatched 4,000 troops to Boston in 1768—the soldiers' presence in the city only made the situation worse.

boston tea party
Boston Tea Party

 An incident that took place on December 16, 1773, when a band of 60 men led by the Sons of Liberty disguised themselves as Native Americans and destroyed chests of tea aboard ships in the harbor. The Tea Party prompted the passage of the Intolerable Acts to punish Bostonians and make them pay for the destroyed tea.

the intolerable acts
The Intolerable Acts

The Boston Tea Party had mixed results: some Americans hailed the Bostonians as heroes, while others condemned them as radicals. Parliament, very displeased, passed the Coercive Acts in 1774 in an effort to punish the colonists and restore order. Colonists quickly renamed these acts the Intolerable Acts.

first continental congress
First Continental Congress

A meeting convened in Philadelphia in late 1774 that brought together delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies (Georgia abstained) in order to protest the Intolerable Acts. Colonial leaders stood united against these and other British acts and begged Parliament and King George III to repeal them. The Congress also created an association to organize and supervise a boycott on all British goods. Although the delegates did not request home rule or desire independence, they believed that the colonies should be given more power to legislate themselves.

This is the Carpenter's Hall, which was used by the local carpenter's guild. It was the site for the First Continental Congress in 1774.


Loyalists were about 1/3 of the colonists and did not support the Declaration of Independence. They believed the colonies should stay loyal or faithful to the king.

The Sons of Liberty tarring and featherings a tax collector underneath the Liberty Tree


At the time the Declaration of Independence was written, about 1/3 of the colonists wanted independence. They were called Patriots. They agreed with ideas and arguments in the Declaration of Independence. The Sons of Liberty were Patriots.

Betsy Ross joined the Fighting Quakers after her husband died. Unlike the traditional Quakers these were for the war--Patriots

One of the most well-known Patriots of the Revolutionary War was Patrick Henry (1736-1799) whose legendary words, "Give me liberty or give me death," motivated the colonists into supporting the Revolutionary War.

mercy otis warren
Mercy Otis Warren

Mercy Otis Warren was born in 1728 into a family of all boys, and there were many of them. She was born in Massachusetts. Mercy became a Patriot writer, and she wrote plays, poems and lots of other writings that supported independence. She used her writing to display her ideas. Her ideas and writings convinced many people in Massachusetts to become Patriots. Of all the people writing to support the patriotic cause, Mercy Otis Warren was the only woman who published plays, books, and poetry.

“Our situation is truly delicate & critical. On the one hand we are in need of a strong federal government founded on principles of the colonies. On the other we have struggled for liberty & made costly sacrifices at her shrine and there are still many among us who revere her name to much to relinquish (beyond a certain medium) the rights of man for the dignity of government.”

Mercy Otis Warren

thomas jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Virginian planter and lawyer who eventually became president of the United States. Jefferson was invaluable to the revolutionary cause. In 1776, he drafted the Declaration of Independence, which justified American independence from Britain. Later, he served as the first secretary of state under President George Washington and as vice president to John Adams. Jefferson then was elected president himself in 1800 and 1804.

declaration of independence
Declaration of Independence

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution in the Second Continental Congress that said, “These United colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” A committee of 5--Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman and Thomas Jefferson-- were selected to write a formal declaration explaining the reasons for independence. Thomas Jefferson was the primary author.

Jefferson kept the Declaration relatively short and to explain why the colonists wanted to be free. The document that he wrote describes the basic principles (beliefs or rules) about how to behave.

declaration of independence basic ideas about people and governmen t
Declaration of IndependenceBasic ideas about people and government
  • All people are created equal
  • They are born with certain inalienable rights that no one take away
    • Life
    • Liberty
    • Pursuit of happiness
  • The purpose of government is to protect these rights.
declaration of independence why they had a right to be free from british rule
Declaration of IndependenceWhy they had a right to be free from British rule
  • Power of the government comes from the consent of the people
  • If a government violates the rights of its people, they can change the government or get rid of it and create a new one.
declaration of independence complaints against the british king
Declaration of IndependenceComplaints against the British King

These complaints are based on the idea that government should protect the rights of the people and serve the common good.

  • He refused to approve laws made by the colonists that were necessary for common good.
  • He closed the colonists’ legislatures when the opposed his violation of the rights of the people.

3. He kept a standing army in the colonies even though there was no war.

4. He stopped the colonists’ trade with other countries

5. He taxed the colonists without representation (consent)

6. He took away the colonists right to a trial by jury.

who supported to war
Who Supported to War?


When the Revolutionary War began, Britain made a costly and fatal error in assuming that opposition to British policies came only from a core group of rabble-rousing ringleaders such as Washington, Jefferson, and the Adams cousins. The British believed that if they arrested these men, the revolt would collapse. However, a significant majority of Americans disliked British rule. Historians estimate that the majority of eligible American men served at some point in the Continental Army, the militias, or both.


Many American women supported the war effort as well as nurses, attendants, cooks, and even spies on the battlefields. Others, such as the famous “Molly Pitcher” (a woman named Mary Hays McCauley, who fought in her husband's place) and Deborah Sampson (who disguised herself as a man) saw action in battle. As more husbands and fathers left home to fight, more wives and mothers took to managing the farms and businesses. A majority of women helped by making yarn and homespun necessities such as socks and underwear, both to send to militiamen and to support the boycott of British goods.

who supported to war1
Who Supported to War?

Native Americans

They were fearful of future American expansion into their lands and the majority chose to support Britain. In particular, the influential Mohawk chief Joseph Brant convinced the Iroquois tribes to support the British. As a result of his efforts and others, thousands of Iroquois, Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, and other warriors joined forces with the British and raided American arsenals and settlements along the western frontier.

This proved to be a fatal one decision. Most believed that the British were a sure bet and that the rebellious colonies stood almost no chance of winning. The ultimate British surrender was a huge loss for Native Americans: white settlers were already pushing westward, and after the war, they felt justified in their taking of native lands.

who supported to war african americans
Who Supported to War?African Americans

Blacks, too, generally supported the British because an American victory would only keep them in bondage. Although roughly 5,000 blacks did serve in militias for the United States, most who had the opportunity chose to flee to British and Loyalist areas that promised freedom from slavery. Consequently, colonies both north and south lost tens of thousands of slaves.

To some degree, blacks fared better after the war than before.

Faced with the somewhat embarrassing predicament of supporting the premise that “all men are created equal,” as stated in the Declaration of Independence, while at the same time practicing human bondage, many states, such as Vermont, eventually abolished slavery. Other states legislated more gradual forms of emancipation. As a result, the number of free blacks in the United States skyrocketed into the tens of thousands by the end of the century. Slavery was by no means a dead institution (as the early 1800s proved), but these liberal decisions made during the war were significant steps forward on the road to equality.

battle of lexington and concord the shot heard around the world
Battle of Lexington and Concord“The shot heard around the world”

”Don’t fire unless fired upon” Two battles, fought on April 19, 1775, that opened the Revolutionary War. When British troops engaged a small group of colonial militiamen in the small towns of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, the militiamen fought back and eventually forced the British to retreat, harrying the redcoats on the route back to Boston using guerrilla tactics. more unlikely.

The battle sent shockwaves throughout the colonies and the world, as it was astonishing that farmers were able to beat the British forces. This battle marked a significant turning point because open military conflict made reconciliation between Britain and the colonies all the more unlikely.

thomas paine
Thomas Paine

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

He was a famous writer whose words greatly influenced the leaders of the American Revolution.

Born in England, he became friends with Benjamin Franklin who encouraged him to go to America.

He wrote and published the pamphlet “Common Sense" which demanded complete independence from Great Britain. It also stated a strong case against the monarchy and inherited privilege. It was the most widely distributed pamphlet in American history at that time - popular with the highly educated as well as the common man.

After “Common Sense," he published a series of pamphlets called "The Crisis," which begins with the words, "These are the times that try men's souls." Washington read these pamphlets to his troops, which gave them great encouragement during the hardest times of the war.

battle of saratoga
Battle of Saratoga

British general John Burgoyne earned the nickname "Gentleman Johnny" for his love of leisure and his tendency to throw parties between battles. His surrender to American forces at the Battle of Saratoga marked a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

 A 1777 British defeat that was a major turning point in the Revolutionary War—

The defeat allowed Ben Franklin to convince the French to ally themselves with the United States and enter the war against Britain. France, eager to weaken the British, began to send supplies, money, and troops to help the Continental Army.

winter at valley forge
Winter at Valley Forge

Winter of 1777-1778

In Pennsylvania the Continental Army suffered worst time of the war. 2,500 men died of starvation, cold, and disease. With the British Army secure in Philadelphia, the American army settled into winter quarters at Valley Forge. It was a winter of hardship and suffering for the troops. It was also a winter of training, in which the American troops were taught how to be professional soldiers.

battle of yorktown
Battle of Yorktown

Virginia, 1781

Marked the end of the Revolution

Fortified by the Franco-American Alliance, the Americans maintained an impasse with the British until 1781, when the Americans laid siege to a large encampment of British forces under Lord Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. Scattered battles persisted until 1783, but the British, weary of the stalemate, decided to negotiate peace. This was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

treaty of paris 1783 ends american revolution
Treaty of Paris 1783Ends American Revolution

The Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1782 by American representatives Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay. It was ratified on April 17, 1783. It officially recognized American independence.

Terms of the Treaty

  • Britain recognized the independent nation of the United States of America.
  • Britain agreed to remove all of its troops from America.
  • The treaty set new borders for the United States including all land from the Great Lakes on the north to Florida on the south, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.
  • The United States agreed to allow British troops still in America to leave.
  • The United States agreed to pay all existing debts owed to Britain.
  • The United States agreed not to persecute loyalists still in America, and allow those that left America to return.
second continental congress
Second Continental Congress

The day that the Second Continental Congress met, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in New York.

On May 15, 1776, they decided to completely break from Great Britain.

They organized the American Continental Army

On June 14, 1776, they appointed George Washington as commander-in-chief of the army

They organized the militia of the colonies called the American Continental Army

On June 14, 1776, they appointed George Washington as commander-in-chief of the army He was elected unanimously

George Washington knew that this army would face great difficulty. He later wrote that Americans were"not then organized as a nation, or known as a people upon the earth. We had no preparation. Money, the nerve of war, was wanting."

Great Britain was the most powerful nation on earth.

The Second Continental Congress was one of the most important government meetings in the history of the United States of America.

It wrote and signed The Declaration of Independence.

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock wrote his name first and biggest on the Declaration of Independence. He said, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward."

He was talking about the reward offered by King George III offered a reward to anyone who could capture one of the Sons of Liberty, especially Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

articles of confederation

This was the first plan of government for the United States. The Articles set up a loose union of states with equal powers. We call such a union a confederation.

Articles of Confederation

The Founding Fathers faced two problems when they wrote the Articles:

People feared a strong national government

People feared some states would have more power than others.

3 Solutions to people’s fears:

Set up a weak national government with limited powers.

Power to Congress but limited—no president

Each state had one vote in Congress-- Had to have approval of states to do anything important

what was accomplished under the articles of confederation
What was accomplished under the Articles of Confederation?
  • Kept the states together during the war against Great Britain
  • Winning the war for independence
  • Making peace treaty with Great Britain
  • Preventing each state from conducting its own foreign affairs, making treaties, and declaring war

Why did the Articles of Confederation fail? The primary answer to the question was that the federal government was given important responsibilities but no real power. The federal government was relatively weak because most of the law making power was given to the states.

king george iii
King George III

Anyone who does not agree with me is a traitor and a scoundrel!

King of Great Britain during the American Revolution. George III inherited the throne at the age of twelve. He ruled Britain throughout the Seven Years' War, the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the War of 1812. After the conclusion of the French and Indian War, his popularity declined in the American colonies. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson vilifies George III and argues that his neglect and misuse of the American colonies justified their revolution.

lord north
Lord North

Lord North (1732-1792), originally Frederick North, held many elite British offices before becoming Prime Minister in 1770. North maintained that post until the British defeat at Yorktown in 1781, after which he resigned his post.

North extended Parliament's version of an "olive branch" in early 1775, when the English government offered to desist from taxing any colony that made adequate provisions to support its civil and military government. But then Parliament proceeded to pass laws restraining trade and fisheries in New England, and later in all the colonies. North's "olive branch" offer did not succeed and the first shots of the war were fired a few months later at Lexington and Concord.

john adams
John Adams

A prominent Boston lawyer who first became famous for defending the British soldiers accused of murdering five civilians in the Boston Massacre. Adams was a delegate from Massachusetts in the Continental Congresses, where he rejected proposals for reconciliation with Britain. He served as vice president to George Washington and was president of the United States from 1797 to 1801.

samuel adams
Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams was a fierce patriot, passionate, rebellious and rabble-rousing. He was an intelligent man, whose ideas are woven into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was a founder and leader of the Boston Sons of Liberty, which included Paul Revere and his second cousin John Adams (who later became the second President). The Sons were semi-secret groups that existed throughout the colonies with little or no central organization, and were known as radicals; they were among the earliest advocates of independence.

the midnight ride of paul revere
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

On the night of April 18/April 19, 1775, when Paul Revere and William Dawes were instructed by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the movements of the British Army, which was beginning a march from Boston to Lexington, ostensibly to arrest Hancock and Adams and seize the weapons stores in Concord.


Ben Franklin

A Philadelphia printer, inventor, and patriot. Franklin drew the famous “Join or Die” political cartoon for the Albany Congress. He was also a delegate for the Second Continental Congress and a member of the committee responsible for helping to draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

patrick henry
Patrick Henry

A radical colonist famous for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. Henry openly advocated rebellion against the Crown in the years prior to the Revolutionary War. Loyalist accused him of treason.

george washington
George Washington

A Virginia planter and militia officer who eventually became the first president of the United States. Washington participated in the first engagement of the French and Indian War in 1754 and later became commander in chief of the American forces during the Revolutionary War. In 1789, he became president of the United States. Although Washington actually lost most of the military battles he fought, his leadership skills were unparalleled and were integral to the creation of the United States.

marquis de lafayette
Marquis de Lafayette

Lafayette was a 19 year old officer in the French Royal Army in 1775, when he first learned of the American Revolution. He was so inspired by the rebellion of the colonists against the British that he left France to serve in the Continental Army saying that, “the welfare of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind.” He served without pay. He soon developed a close friendship with General Washington. Lafayette, a Major-General, was at Yorktown in 1781 with General George Washington when the British surrendered

Washington Marquis de Lafayette

Valley Forge Winter Camp


The Hessians were mercenary soldiers-for-hire brought to America from Germany to fight for the British during the American Revolution. As in most armies of the eighteenth century, the men were mainly recruits, debtors, or had been forced into the army; some were also petty criminals. Pay was low; some soldiers apparently received nothing but their daily food. Some Hessian units were respected for their discipline and excellent military skills. Hessians made up about one-quarter of the British forces in the Revolution.

Battle of Trenton

lord cornwallis
Lord Cornwallis

Lord Cornwallis is best remembered as one of the leading British generals in the American War of Independence. His surrender in 1781 to a combined American and French force led by General Washington at the Siege of Yorktown ended significant hostilities in North America. Cornwallis, apparently not wanting to face Washington, claimed to be ill on the day of the surrender, and sent another officer in his place.

Battle of Camden

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown

northwest ordinance of 1787
Northwest Ordinance of 1787

An ordinance is an order or law made by a government. This government order was a plan for adding new states. It allow people living in the Northwest Territories—the land between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes and the Ohio River—to organize their own governments. When a territory had a large enough population, it could join the Union as equals of the original states, not colonies. They had to provide land for public schools and slavery was unlawful

shays rebellion
Shays’ Rebellion

Dramatic event in Massachusetts that convinced people of the need for a strong central government

Many farmers could not trade their products in other states or countries. They couldn’t pay their bills and lost their farms or went to prison as a result. People protested the unfairness. In November 1786 more than 1000 angry farmers led by Daniel Shays were ready to fight the Massachusetts government. They tried to take weapons the arsenal in Springfield to use, but the State troops stopped Shays’ rebellion. The rebellion frightened many property owners who feared similar problems might arise in their states

Shays Rebellion shut down the courts to prevent the government from taking their property and jailing them.

constitutional convention key issues and their resolutions
Constitutional ConventionKey Issues and Their Resolutions
  • Made federal law the supreme law of the land when constitutional, but otherwise gave the states considerable leeway to govern themselves.
  • Balanced power between large and small states by creating a Senate (where each state gets two senators) and a House of Representatives (with membership based on population).
  • Placated the Southern states by counting the slaves as three-fifths of the population when determining representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Avoided a too-powerful central government by establishing three co-equal branches—legislative, executive, and judicial—with numerous checks and balances among them.
  • Limited the powers of the federal government to those identified in the Constitution.
constitutional convention key leaders george washington
Constitutional ConventionKey Leaders: George Washington

George Washington

President of the Convention

Washington presided at the Convention and, although seldom participating in the debates, lent his enormous prestige to the proceedings. Possessed of an extraordinary strength of character and a wealth of public virtues, he exhibited an integrity, self-discipline, and devotion to duty that made him the natural leader in the task of nation building.

constitutional convention key leaders james madison
Constitutional ConventionKey Leaders: James Madison

Madison, a Virginian and a brilliant political philosopher, often led the debate and kept copious notes of the proceedings—the best record historians have of what transpired at the Constitutional Convention.

At the Convention, Madison authored the Virginia Plan, which proposed a federal government of three separate branches (legislative, executive, judicial) and became the foundation for the structure of the new government.

He later authored much of the Bill of Rights.

James Madison

Father of the Constitution

george mason
George Mason
  • George Mason was one of the five most frequent speakers at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He exerted great influence, but during the last 2 weeks of the convention he decided not to sign the document.
  • His reasons: lacked declaration of rights; the House of Representatives was not truly representative of the nation; the Senate was too powerful; the federal judiciary would destroy the state judiciaries, render justice unattainable, and enable the rich to oppress and ruin the poor.
  • Two of Mason's greatest concerns were incorporated into the Constitution. The Bill of Rights answered his primary objection, and the 11th amendment addressed his call for strictures on the judiciary.

George Mason was a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention and author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, considered a blueprint for the U.S. Bill of Rights.

great compromise solution to representation two houses in congress
Great CompromiseSolution to Representation: Two Houses in Congress

The Senate

Each state, large or small, would have two representatives in the Senate.

House of Representatives

The number of representatives from each state would be based on the number of people living in that state.

RatificationThree-fourths of the 13 states (9) had to agree to the Constitution before it would become law.



Supported the ratification of the Constitution

Wanted the voters to ratify the Constitution

Supported removing some powers from the states and giving more powers to the national government

Favored dividing powers among three branches of government

Proposed a single person to lead the executive branch


George Washington James Madison

John Adams Ben Franklin

Alexander Hamilton

  • Opposed the ratification of the Constitution
  • Wanted important political powers to remain with the states
  • Wanted the legislative branch to have more power than the executive
  • Feared that a strong executive might become a king or tyrant
  • Believed a bill of rights needed to be added to the Constitution to protect people’s right


George Mason Patrick Henry

Samuel Adams Mercy Otis Warren

Richard Henry Lee


The Federalist Paperswere a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, under the pen-name "Publius" urging New York delegates to ratify the Constitution. In 1788, the essays were published in a bound volume entitled the Federalist and eventually became known as the Federalist Papers.

  • To address fears that the Constitution would give the central government too much power and would limit individual freedom, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison analyzed the Constitution in detail and outlined the built in checks and balances meant to divide power between the three branches of government and to preserve the rights of the people and states.
  • The papers did not play a significant role in New York's decision to ratify the Constitution (delegates voted in favor of the new government because New York City threatened to secede if they did not).
bill of rights
Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution and was adopted four years after the original Constitution was adopted.

When the Constitution was written, many Founding Fathers were worried that the rights of the people were not protected enough. They said a Bill of Rights had to be added before they would help ratified the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights was introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States.

First Ten Amendments

  • Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
  • Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well regulated militia.
  • No quartering of soldiers.
  • Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy.
  • Rights of accused persons, e.g., right to a speedy and public trial.
  • Right of trial by jury in civil cases.
  • Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
  • Other rights of the people.
  • Powers reserved to the states.
u s constitution 6 goals listed in the preamble
U.S. Constitution6 Goals listed in the Preamble
  • To form a more perfect union.States should work together as one united nation.
  • To establish justice. Laws and rights must be the same for all the people.
  • To ensure domestic tranquility. The national, state and local government needed the power to keep the peace.
  • To provide for common defense. Military power would prevent further attacks by foreign nations.
  • To promote the general welfare. The national government has the power to take care of the peoples’ needs.

6. To secure the blessings of liberty. Liberty is the freedom to live as you would like, as long as you follow and obey the laws of the country, and respect the rights of others.

goals of the preamble a closer look
Goals of the PreambleA Closer Look



Create a nation in which states work together

Make laws and set up courts that are fair

Keep peace within the country

Safeguard the country against attack

Contribute to the happiness and well-being of all the people

Make sure future citizens remain free

  • Form a more perfect Union
  • Establish justice
  • Insure domestic tranquility
  • Provide for the common defense
  • Promote for the general welfare
  • Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
u s constitution supreme law of the land
U.S. ConstitutionSupreme Law of the Land

Principals of the Constitution

  • Popular Sovereignty– the final power and authority of the government comes from the people.
  • Republicanism – a system of government in which representatives are elected by the people.
  • Federalism – the constitutional system that share power between the national and state governments. Some powers are concurrent (ex: the ability to tax).
  • Separation of Powers– the national government is divided into three separate branches, each with its own power : Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
  • Checks and Balances– the system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches.
  • Limited Government– The people are protected by a system of Constitutional laws that limit the power of the government.
  • Individual Rights– The Bill of Rights and laws insure personal freedoms , equality in treatment and protection to all individuals.

Three Branches of Government

The judicial branch is made up of the court system. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Courts decide the meaning of laws and whether they break the rules of the Constitution.

The legislative branch is to write, debate, and pass bills, which are then passed on to the President for approval.

The executive branch makes sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed.

chief justice john marshall

4th Chief Justice of the

U. S. Supreme Court

Chief Justice John Marshall

On January 20, 1801 President John Adams nominated John Marshall, then Secretary of State, as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Served as chief justice for thirty-four years

Marshall heard cases and offered groundbreaking opinions that continue to guide the Supreme Court and the United States government today.

The Marshall Court

  • Marbury v. Madison: Established the principle of judicial review, in which the court ruled that the Supreme Court had the power to declare invalid any act of Congress that was in conflict with the U.S. Constitution.
  • McCulloch v. Maryland: The Marshall court also ruled that state judiciaries could set aside state legislative acts if they conflicted with the federal Constitution and that the U.S.
  • Supreme Court could reverse a decision of a state court.
  • By his opinions, Marshall increased the power of the Supreme Court as a branch of the federal government, emphasized the role of the judiciary in the states, and reinforced the national supremacy of the federal government.
war of 1812 effects
War of 1812: Effects

Effects of the War of 1812

1. The attacks on Canada weren't as successful as originally planned by the War Hawks because Canada didn't want to be free from Britain and Britain's army was much larger than that of the U.S.

2. Native American Armies Were Defeated

  • When General Tecumseh died, the Native Americans no longer had a leader to gather large armies against the U.S.
  • The War of 1812 resulted in the Native American's loss of land through the signing of government treaties.

3. It exposed American militarily weakness and made clear the importance of better transportation systems.

4. The end of the party of the Wealthy Business People

  • Three ways the United States became stronger after the War of 1812: 1. It proved its military power.2. It increased its manufacturing ability.3. The Federalist Party was ended.

5. Most importantly, the war stimulated domestic manufacture.

monroe doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
  • The Monroe Doctrine was the declaration by President James Monroe, in December 1823, that the United States would not tolerate a European nation colonizing an independent nation in North or South America. Any such intervention in the western hemisphere would be considered a hostile act by the United States, though the United States would respect existing European colonies.
  • What prompted Monroe’s statement: A fear that Spain would try to take over its former colonies in South America, which had declared their independence.
  • The European powers took note of Monroe’s declaration, but what kept the Spanish (and presumably the French) from meddling in the western hemisphere was not so much Monroe’s statements as very real threats from the British. It seemed apparent that the Royal Navy would stop the Spanish involvement, as the British wanted to protect their interests in the Caribbean.
louisiana purchase
Louisiana Purchase

Why was this deal was necessary?

In 1801, Spain and France signed a secret treaty ceding Louisiana to France. France suddenly posed a potential threat to America. There was a fear that if America did not purchase New Orleans from France, it could lead to war. The change of ownership of this key port resulted in its closing to Americans. Therefore, Jefferson sent envoys to France to try and secure its purchase. Instead, they returned with an agreement to buy the entire Louisiana Territory. America did not have the money to pay the $15 million outright so they instead borrowed the money from Great Britain at 6% interest.

The Louisiana Purchase was one of the largest land deals in history. In 1803, the United States paid approximately $15 million dollars for over 800,000 square miles of land. This land deal was arguably the greatest achievement of Thomas Jefferson's presidency.

acquisition of florida adams onis treaty
Acquisition of FloridaAdams-Onis Treaty
  • Also called the Transcontinental Treaty of 1819, the Adams-Onis Treaty was one of the critical events that defined the U.S.-Mexico border. The border between the then-Spanish lands and American territory was a source of heated international debate. Spain’s western colonies were on the brink of revolution.
  • So he wouldn’t lose Florida without any compensation, Spanish foreign minister Onis signed a treaty with Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. The treaty drew a definite border between Spanish land and the Louisiana Territory.
  • The United States ceded to Spain its claims to Texas west of the Sabine River. Spain retained possession not only of Texas, but also California and the vast region of New Mexico. At the time, these two territories included all of present-day California and New Mexico along with modern Nevada, Utah, Arizona and sections of Wyoming and Colorado.

The treaty also mandated that Spain relinquish its claims to the country of Oregon north of the 42 degrees parallel (the northern border of California).

pre civil war economics
Pre-Civil War Economics

Although the Civil War itself was caused by a number of different factors, the divergent paths taken in the economic development of North and South contributed to the animosity between the regions.

The South was very dependent on cotton. Cotton, which could be processed in greater quantities after the invention of the cotton gin, depended on slavery.

In the North, factories were springing up. In the South, plantations had developed. In surprising ways, these systems resembled each other in their attempt at mass production.

The South had almost 25% of the country's free population, but only 10% of the country's capital in 1860. The North had five times the number of factories as the South, and over ten times the number of factory workers. In addition, 90% of the nation's skilled workers were in the North.

In the North, labor was expensive, and workers were mobile and active. The influx of immigrants from Europe and Asia provided competition in the labor market, however, keeping wages from growing very quickly. The Southern economy, however, was built on the labor of African American slaves, who were oppressed into providing cheap labor.

Women weaving in the North

The Cotton Press in the South

nullification crisis
Nullification Crisis

Toward the end of his first term in office, Jackson was forced into a Constitutional confrontation with his former Vice President, John C. Calhoun, and the state of South Carolina on the issue of the protective tariff.

In their view, South Carolina thought all the benefits of protection were going to Northern manufacturers, and while the country as a whole grew richer, South Carolina grew poorer, with its planters bearing the burden of higher prices.

South Carolina claimed the right to "nullify," or declare void the tariff. This would have meant that the states didn't have to pay the tariff. More importantly, it would have meant that the states would have had authority over the federal government in a basic economic matter like the tariff.

Jackson declared that nullification was tantamount to treason and quickly dispatched ships to Charleston harbor and began strengthening federal fortifications there. After Jackson issued his proclamation, Congress passed the Force Act that authorized the use of military force against any state that resisted the tariff acts

Nullification leaders in South Carolina had expected the support of other Southern states, but without exception, the rest of the South declared South Carolina's course unwise and unconstitutional. The states withdrew their objection to the tariff, mainly because Henry Clay introduced a compromise bill which would gradually reduced tariffs for 11 years, putting off the nullification question until then.

impact of indian removals
Impact of Indian Removals

In 1823 the Supreme Court handed down a decision (Johnson v. M’Intosh) which stated that Indians could occupy lands within the United States, but could not hold title to those lands. The Indian Removal Act, part of a United States government policy known as Indian removal, was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 26, 1830.

The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the “Five Civilized Tribes”. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in a contentious jurisdictional dispute with the Cherokee nation. President Jackson hoped removal would resolve the Georgia crisis.

While Native American removal was, in theory, supposed to be voluntary, in practice great pressure was put on Native American leaders to sign removal treaties. Most observers, whether they were in favor of the Indian removal policy or not, realized that the passage of the act meant the inevitable removal of most Indians from the states.

Some Native American leaders who had previously resisted removal now began to reconsider their positions, especially after Jackson’s landslide re-election in 1832. The Indian Removal Act paved the way for the reluctant—and often forcible—emigration of tens of thousands of American Indians to the West.

abolition underground railroad

Abolitionism was a movement to do away with slavery, notably in the US from 1800 to 1863. Actual slavery in the US was outlawed by the 13th Amendment in 1865. As a division developed in the early 19th century regarding the morality of slavery, those who wanted it stopped (abolished) were called abolitionists. The idea of opposing slavery makes it abolitionism. Most arguments for abolition centered on the premise of the founding of the nation, that all people have an inherent right to personal freedom. European nations began outlawing slavery during the same period. During the US Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (1863) was the first document to address an end to slavery.

The Underground Railroad was a secret system in northern U.S. states to help escaping slaves. Its name derived from the need for secrecy and the railway terms used in the conduct of the system. Various routes in 14 states, called lines, provided safe stopping places (stations) for the leaders (conductors) and their charges (packages) while fleeing north, sometimes to Canada. The system developed in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts and was active mainly from 1830 to 1860. An estimated 40,000 to 100,000 slaves used the network. Assistance was provided mainly by free blacks, including Harriet Tubman, and philanthropists, church leaders, and abolitionists. Its existence aroused support for the antislavery cause and convinced Southerners that the North would never allow slavery to remain unchallenged.

Abolition/Underground Railroad
utopian experiments
Utopian Experiments

Utopian societies were created in reaction to urban growth and industrialization. Emphasis was on community and withdrawal from society.

New Harmony, Indiana: A Communitarian Experiment

Founded in 1814 by the Harmony Society, a group of Separatists from the German Lutheran Church Sold to Robert Owens in 1825. The Harmonists combined the Swabian work ethic ("Work, work, work! Save, save, save!") with the Benedictine rule ("Pray and work!"). This resulted in an unheard of economic achievement that was recognized as "the wonder of the west."

Robert Owen's ambition was to create a more perfect society through free education and the abolition of social classes and personal wealth. World-renowned scientists and educators settled in New Harmony. With the help of William Maclure, the Scottish geologist and businessman, they introduced vocation education, kindergarten and other educational reforms.

New Harmony is also the site of the early headquarters of the U.S. Geological Survey and provided the earliest geological and natural science collections for the beginnings of the Smithsonian Institute. David Dale Owen turned to geology under the influence of William Maclure. From 1830 until 1860 New Harmony was one of the most important training and research centers for the study of geology in America.

reform leaders
Reform Leaders

William Lloyd Garrison was an American newspaper publisher who lived during the 19th century. Called "The Liberator," the newspaper he published spoke out against the evils of slavery, making Garrison a notable member of the abolitionist movement

Susan B. Anthony is remembered as a women's rights leader, but she also campaigned against slavery and in favor of temperance (the abolition of liquor). Along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton she founded the American Equal Rights Association in 1866, and she spent the better part of her life trying to win voting rights for women in the United States.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a leading figure in the American women's rights movement of the 19th century. She was a co-founder (with Lucretia Mott) of the famous 1848 Women's Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, and drafted the convention's Declaration of Sentiments.

manifest destiny
Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny was the long held belief that white Americans had a given right to occupy the entire North American continent.

It was not a new idea, nor was it historically confined to America. Manifest Destiny as a concept was exercised in 1492 by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish monarchs who initially sanctioned the colonization of South America. It was also exercised by the Pilgrim Fathers when they landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

Manifest Destiny was a phrase coined by John O'Sullivan in 1845 referring to Texas' annexation of Mexico. The Lewis and Clark Expedition is considered the finest example of Manifest Destiny, as the annexed land from France expanded the United States westward.

"(It is) ..our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty.”

John O'Sullivan, editor

New York newspaper

The Morning Post

territorial acquisitions
Territorial Acquisitions

Texas Annexation

By the Louisiana Purchase, Texas had become a part of the United States; but in 1819 it had been ceded to Spain in the negotiations for Florida. Two years later Mexico, including Texas, had become independent, and the United States made two unsuccessful attempts to purchase Texas from Mexico.

The settlement of Texas by immigrants from the United States finally led to the secession of Texas and its annexation by the United States, with the result that the Mexican War broke out in May, 1846.

It was closed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by which the United States gained not only Texas but New Mexico and Upper California.

Mexico gives up all claim to Texas. U.S. pays Mexico $15 million and agrees to assume American citizens' claims ($3,250,000) against Mexico.

The Gadsden Purchase

The Gadsden Purchase was for the purpose of the US's construction of a transcontinental railroad along a deep southern route. It was also related to reconciliation of outstanding border issues following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican–American War of 1846–48. This purchase included lands south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande.

The purchase was the last major territorial acquisition in the contiguous United States, adding a large area to the United States.

the cotton gin
The Cotton Gin

Eli Whitney's cotton gin was a leading factor in the growth of industry and market development in the North. While the South was producing and providing the cotton, Northern entrepreneurs created the factories to make cotton into cloth.

1. Expansion of cotton productiona) Price rose from 6 cents/lb. in 1845 to 14 cents/lb. in 1857b) U.S. produced 7/8 of world cotton supply by 1860

2. Expansion of tobacco market (200 million lbs. in 1850 to 430 million lbs. in 1860).

3. Cotton gin's invention increased productivity (in 10 years production increased 800%)

4. Removal of Indians from Southeastern US allowed expansion 5. 5. Success of cotton led to one-crop economy

The increase in the number of cotton plantations led to a marked increase in the slave market; plantation owners needed cheap laborers to tend and pick cotton crops.

In the North, the cotton economy led to the construction of factories to spin the cotton into cloth. These factories attracted a wide number of rural workers, as well as immigrants, to move into cities and large towns for work.

kansas nebraska act 1854
Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854

Stephen Douglas proposed that

  • Kansas and Nebraska territories be divided into two sections
  • Missouri Compromise be repealed, with settlers in each territory choosing whether or not they wanted slavery (popular sovereignty
uncle tom s cabin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) convinced many northerners of the evil of slavery.

dred scott decision 1857
Dred Scott Decision 1857

Chief Justice Taney ruled that Scott (Dred Scott v. Sanford) could not sue for his freedom

  • Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional (Congress had no right to restrict slavery from territories)
  • Constitution and citizenship did not apply to blacks
john brown s raid on harper s ferry
John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry

Brown and his followers planned a slave insurrection to begin in western Virginia.

They seized federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, but was quickly captured, tried, and hanged.

Impact of Brown’ Raid

  • Northern abolitionists viewed him as a martyr, taking action against the evil of slavery
  • Southerners generally viewed Brown as a madman, symbolizing the fanatical hatred of the North
  • Moderates (Lincoln) condemned Brown's action, while admiring his commitment to countering slavery