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People, Places and Events in American History. Early Exploration. Christopher Columbus Discovered the West Indies and the Caribbean Sea. Sailed for Spain 1492-1504 Sailed westward to find route to China, found the New World.

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people places and events in american history

People, Places and Eventsin American History

christopher columbus discovered the west indies and the caribbean sea
Christopher ColumbusDiscovered the West Indies and the Caribbean Sea

Sailed for Spain 1492-1504

Sailed westward to find route to China, found the New World.

He was not the first European to find North America. The Vikings had come to northern North America hundreds of years earlier. However, Columbus is important because his explorations made Europeans much more aware of the New World and helped to encourage more exploration of North and South America in the 1500s.

columbian exchange
Columbian Exchange

A major consequence of Columbus' voyages was the eventual exchange of goods between the Old World (Europe) and he New World (the Americas). Listed on the map are some of the goods that were shared in this "Columbian Exchange" between the continents.

ponce de leon first european to explore land in present day u s
Ponce de LeonFirst European to explore land in present-day U.S.

In 1506 he discovered an island that he later named Puerto Rico. He returned to the island in 1508 on orders from the king of Spain to explore and colonize the island. He was the island's governor for two years until the king replaced him with Columbus' son.

In late March of 1513, his ships landed on Florida's east coast near present-day St. Augustine. He claimed this beautiful land for Spain. He named it La Florida (LAH flow REE dah) or "place of flowers."

Sailed for Spain 1513

In 1493, Ponce de León sailed with Christopher Columbus on Columbus' second voyage to the Americas.






Sailed for Spain 1519 First to sail around the world - around South America

Magellan was sure that he could get to the riches of the Far East quicker by sailing westward, but he had no idea how far it really was from Europe to the Far East.

Getting the voyage ready took more than a year. The voyage began on September 20, 1519. After many deadly encounters, on September 6, 1522, the remaining crew members reached Sanlucar de Barrameda in Spain, nearly three years after the voyage started.


Sailed for Spain 1540

The Spanish Conquistador who explored the Southwestern part of the United States. Although he failed in his quest for treasure to enrich the Spanish empire, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado led one of the most remarkable European explorations of the North American interior.

cort z

Sailed for Spain 1519

Hernándo Cortés was a Spanish explorer who is famous mainly for his march across Mexico and his conquering Montezuma and the Aztec Empire in Mexico. He claimed vast amounts of gold from the Aztecs.

henry hudson
Henry Hudson

Sailed for England 1607-1611

English explorer and sea captain who made four voyages in an attempt to discover a northern route between Europe and Asia (the so-called Northwest Passage). Although he never found such a passage, he sailed farther north than any previous explorer. He also explored three North American waterways that were later named for him -- the Hudson River, Hudson Bay, and Hudson Strait.

la salle
La Salle

Robert de LaSalle

(November 21, 1643 – March 19, 1687) was a French explorer. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico. La Salle claimed the entire Mississippi River basin for France.

sir walter raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh

Sailed for England 1585

Founded and lost the first English colony in North America

Sir Walter Raleigh is best known for his plan to colonize the Colony of Virginia, which at that point covered the lands now found in the states of North Carolina and Virginia in the United States. He made several voyages to the New World. His first expedition to Roanoke in 1585 failed when the settlers deserted the colony after getting on the bad side of the natives.

capt john smith
Capt. John Smith

Jamestown, Virginia May 1607

Smith is largely responsible for the ultimate success of the first permanent English colony in North America at Jamestown, Virginia . He was a leader of the Virginia Colony (based at Jamestown) between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.

Jamestown historians like to point out that the settlement of Jamestown, in May 1607, came 13 years before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, Mass., in 1620.

Smith was credited with keeping the first Jamestown colonists alive with the edict no work, no food.

john rolfe
John Rolfe

John Rolfe(c. 1585 – 1622)

He was one of the early English settlers of North America. He is credited with the first successful cultivation of tobacco as an export crop in the Colony of Virginia and is known as the husband of Pocahontas, daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Confederacy.

No one knows what Rolfe looked like; all portraits of him were made well after his death, and no descriptions of his appearance are extant.

peter stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant

Peter Stuyvesant (c. 1612 – August 1672), served as the last Dutch colonial governor of the colony of New Netherland who tried to resist the English seizure of the colony after which it was renamed New York. He was a major figure in the early history of New York City.

Stuyvesant's accomplishments as director-general included a great expansion for the settlement of New Netherland beyond the southern tip of Manhattan. Among the projects built by Stuyvesant's administration were the protective wall on Wall Street, the canal that became Broad Street, and Broadway.

roger williams
Roger Williams

Founder of the colony of Rhode Island in America and pioneer of religious liberty--

After being kicked out of Massachusetts for his religious beliefs Williams, with four companions, who had joined him, founded the first settlement in Rhode Island, in June 1636 to which, in remembrance of "God's merciful providence to him in his distress", he gave the name Providence.

He was the first and the foremost supporter of an individual’s freedom of religion. Rhode Island was the first colony consistently to apply this principle in practice.

Roger Williams is depicted in the snowy woods. He founded Rhode Island in 1636 after he was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Williams' colony was an early American experiment with the separation of church and state.

anne hutchinson
Anne Hutchinson

In 1638, Anne Hutchinson was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Three years after arriving in Boston, she found herself the first female defendant in a Massachusetts court. She was banished from the colony for holding prayer meetings for both men and women in her home. Along with her family and 60 followers, she moved to Rhode Island where she and her husband helped found Portsmouth. After her husband died, she moved to New York, where she perished in an Indian raid.

Court’s Verdict

"Mrs. Hutchinson, the sentence of the court you hear is that you are banished from out of our jurisdiction as being a woman not fit for our society, and are to be imprisoned till the court shall send you away."

lord baltimore
Lord Baltimore

Founder of Maryland Colony

Maryland was founded in March 1634 by Lord Baltimore to be a haven for Roman Catholics. It would be a place where different religions were tolerated and both Catholics and Protestants worshiped freely and lived peacefully together. It would remain an independent colony up until the American Revolutionary War when it united with the other colonies in rebellion against England.

william penn
William Penn

Pennsylvania founded in 1682

William Penn founded Pennsylvania with a land grant. His goal was to create a colony that allowed for freedom of religion due to his desire to protect himself and fellow Quakers from persecution. Quakers were known as the Society of Friends.

Pennsylvania played an important role throughout the American Revolutionary War. The Declaration of Independence was written and signed there, many who led the fight for independence (Benjamin Franklin) were from there. The First and Second Continental Congresses were held there and the Constitutional Convention.

However, Quakers refused to take sides in the American Revolutionary War. They did not believe that it was right to fight, no matter what the reason was. Some people thought that Quakers were traitors.

William Penn’s Treaty with Lenape Chiefs at


james oglethorpe
James Oglethorpe

George was founded in 1732 by James Oglethorpe as a place for debtors and to serve as a buffer colony between Spanish Florida and English Carolina. It was named for King George II. Oglethorpe envisioned the province as a location for the resettlement of English debtors and "the worthy poor", although no debtors or convicts were part of the organized settlement of Georgia.

plymouth and pilgrims
Plymouth and Pilgrims

The Pilgrims left England to seek religious freedom, or simply to find a better life. They wanted to separate from the Church of England. They founded a colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in December, 1620. Many of the 102 passengers who sailed from England aboard the Mayflower died. The survivors formed the Plymouth Colony. Forty-one male passengers signed the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that said they would follow "just and equal laws for the general good of the colony.“ Among the leaders of the Plymouth Colony were William Bradford and Miles Standish.

They faced great hardship but made friends with neighboring Native Americans. Squanto showed them how to fish and grow corn, squash, and pumpkins. Massasoit was the Chief of the Wampanoags.

puritans massachusetts bay colony
PuritansMassachusetts Bay Colony

Puritans left England for the New World for looking for freedom and religion. The Puritans were a strict group of Christians. They got their name because they wanted to “purify” the Church of England. They settled in Massachusetts Bay so that they could worship freely, but they denied freedom to all who lived in Massachusetts. Puritans did not allow anything that would distract from worship. Singing and laughing on Sunday was punished. Christmas was outlawed.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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

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

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

triangular trade
Triangular Trade

The Triangular Trade consisted of three journeys. It's name is from the three routes that formed a triangle.

The first route carried fish, lumber, and other goods from New England to the West Indies.

In the West Indies they picked up sugar and molasses which is a dark brown syrup product made from sugar cane. This was used to makes rum.

From the West Indies merchants carried the rum, along with guns, gunpowder, and tools to West Africa. Here, they traded these items for slaves, they carried the slaves to the West Indies where they were sold. Traders would take the profits and buy more molasses.

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.

the stamp act
The Stamp Act

The 1765 Stamp Act required certain goods to bear an official stamp showing that the owner had paid his or her tax. Many of these items were paper goods, such as legal documents and licenses, newspapers, leaflets, and even playing cards. The Stamp Act was passed in order to pay for the increased British troop presence in the colonies. Colonists feared that the troops were there to control them.

The Stamp Act ignited an angry response from the colonists, Left, a tax collector is tied to a pole by an unruly crowd. A British loyalist is secured at bottom of pole.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

albany congress
Albany Congress

 A congress convened by British officials in 1754 promoting a unification of British colonies in North America for security and defense against the French. Although the Albany Congress failed to foster any solid colonial unity, it did bring together many colonial leaders who would later play key roles in the years before the Revolutionary War. To support the congress, Benjamin Franklin drew his famous political cartoon of a fragmented snake labeled “Join or Die.”

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.

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.

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. Most historians agree that without help from France, the United States could not have won the war.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.
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.


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.

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

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.