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67 Cards in this Set

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Pontiac’s Rebellion
1763–66, Native American uprising against the British just after the close of the French and Indian War.

The French attitude toward the Native Americans had always been more conciliatory than that of the English. French Jesuit priests and French traders had maintained friendly and generous dealings with their Native American neighbors. After conquering New France (Old Canada), the English aroused the resentment of the Western tribes by treating them arrogantly, refusing to supply them with free ammunition (as the French had done), building forts, and permitting white settlement on Native American–owned lands. Fearing an influx of Anglo-American settlers, chief Pontiac hoped for a return of the French. Pontiac led a group of loosely confederated tribes. The British broke the seige in Detroit.
Proclamation Line
Following Pontiac's Rebellion

In the peace settlement Pontiac and his allies accepted the British as their new political "fathers." In return, the British addressed some of the Indian's concerns, temporarily barring Anglo-Americans from settling west of the Appalachians by establishing the Proclamation Line of 1763. Thus in the Great War for Empire, the British crown took control of Canada and decided not to provide land for the expansion-minded American colonies.
South Carolina Regulators
Violence also broke out in the backcountry of S. Carolina, where land hungry Scottish and Anglo-American settlers had clashed repeatedly with Cherokees during the war with France. After the war ended in 1763, a group of landowning vigilantes, the Regulators, tried to suppress outlaw bands of whites that were roaming the countryside and stealing cattle and other property. The Regulators also wanted greater political rights for their region and demanded that the eastern-controlled government provide them with more local courts, fairer taxes, and greater local representation in the provincial assembly. In 1767 the assembly agreed to create locally controlled courts in the western counties of the colonies and reduce the fees for legal documentation.

A Regulator movement developed in the 1760s in western South Carolina among groups interested in establishing law and order. Outlaw gangs had formed in the area and the assembly failed on several occasions to provide funding for peace officers and local courts.
North Carolina Regulators
To save their farms from grasping creditors and tax-hungry local officials , N. Carolina debtors joined together in a Regulator movement . Disciplined mobs of farmers intimidated judges, closed down courts, and broke into jails to free their comrades. They also proposed a coherent program of reforms, demanding passage of a law allowing them to pay their taxes in the "produce of country" rather then in cash, lower legal fees, greater legislative representation, and fairer taxes.

In May 1771 British troops and the eastern militia defeated a large Regulator force - in the end 30 were dead and 7 insurgent leaders were executed. "What shall an injured & oppressed people do," when faced with "oppression and tyranny (under the name of government?" Ezra Stiles.
In the back country of the Carolina's and Pennsylvania yeoman farmer's fought with Indians and formed Regulator movements to challenge eastern controlled governments.
Paxton Boys
Movement to the western frontier created new disputes over Indian policy, political representation, and debts. During the war with France, Delaware and Shawnee warriors had attacked farms throughout central and Western Pennsylvania, destroying property and killing and capturing hundreds of residents. Subsequently, the Scots-Irish who lived along the frontier wanted to push the Indians out of the colony, but pacifistic Quakers prevented such military action. In 1763, a band of Scots-Irish farmers known as the Paxton Boys took matters into their own hands and massacred 20 members of the peaceful Conestoga tribe. Prosecution of the accused men failed. The episode left a legacy of racial hatred and political resentment.
Rotten Boroughs
Tiny electoral districts for Parliament whose voters were controlled by wealthy aristocrats or merchants. In the 1760's Radical Whig John Wilkes called for their elimination to make Parliament more representative of the property-owning class.
Court Party-Tories
The select group in eighteenth century British Pariliament that Robert Walpole favored in patronage appointments, leading to charges of corruption from the Whig Party.
Sugar Act
1764, Treasury officials who understood the pattern of colonial trade convinced Grenville that the mainland settlers had to sell some of their wheat, fish, and lumber in the French islands. Without the molasses, sugar, and bills of exchange those sales brought, the officials pointed out, the colonists would lack the funds to buy British manufacture goods. Grenville resisted demands from British sugar planters for a duty of 6 pence per gallon that would completely cut off colonial imports of French molasses. He settled on a smaller duty of 3 pence per gallon, arguing that it would allow molasses from the British isles to compete withthe cheaper French product.

A revision of the unenforced Molasses Act of 1733, it imposed new duties on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies from non-British Caribbean sources and provided for the seizure of cargoes violating the new rules. The act was the first attempt to recoup from the colonies the expenses of the French and Indian War and the cost of maintaining British troops in North America. The colonists objected to the act as taxation without representation, and some merchants agreed not to import British goods. Protests increased with passage of the Stamp Act.
Country Party-Radical Whigs
Eighteenth-century opposition party in the British Parliament that challenged the cost of the growing British empire and the subsequent increase in tax collector positions that were used for patronage. They demanded that British government include more representatives of the propertied class.

Both argued that the huge war debt had left the treasury at the mercy of the "monied interest," the bankers and financiers who were reaping millions of pounds in interest from government bonds.
George Grenville
Served as prime minister (1763–65). His policy of taxing the American colonies, initiated by his Revenue Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765, started the train of events leading to the American Revolution. He was unpopular for the prosecution of John Wilkes for seditious libel and his clumsy handling of the Regency Act of 1765, alienating George III and leading to the fall of his ministry. In opposition thereafter, Grenville helped bring about the passage of the Townshend Acts (1767).
Admiralty Courts
Maritime tribunals composed only of a judge-and not by a local common-law jury. For half a century American legislatures had vigorously opposed vice-admiralty courts, expanding the jurisdiction of colonial courts to cover customs offenses occuring in the seaports. As a result, most merchants charged with violating the Navigation Acts were tried in common-law courts and were often acquitted by friendly local juries. By extending the jurisdiction of vice-admiralty courts to all customs offenses, the Sugar Act closed this loophole.
Stamp Act
1765 British parliamentary measure to tax the American colonies.

To pay for costs resulting from the French and Indian War, the British sought to raise revenue through a stamp tax on printed matter. A common revenue device in England, the tax was vigorously opposed by the colonists, whose representatives had not been consulted. Colonists refused to use the stamps, and mobs intimidated stamp agents. The Stamp Act Congress, with representatives from nine colonies, met to petition Parliament to repeal the act. Faced with additional protests from British merchants whose exports had been reduced by colonial boycotts, Parliament repealed the act (1766), then passed the Declaratory Act.
Currency Act
The Currency Act of 1764 prohibited the American colonies from issuing paper currency of any form. This offset the economy of the colonies and was widely opposed. The colonies created their own money, called Colonial Script, before this happened. A lot of this money had little or no worth. The Currency Act is not actually one of the Intolerable Acts, although they are closely related.

1764 The colonies suffered a constant shortage of currency with which to conduct trade. There were no gold or silver mines and currency could only be obtained through trade as regulated by Great Britain. Many of the colonies felt no alternative to printing their own paper money in the form of Bills of Credit. But because there were no common regulations and in fact no standard value on which to base the notes, confusion ensued. The notes were issued by land banks, or loan offices, which based the value of mortgaged land. Some notes payed interest, others did not, some could be used only for purchase and not to repay debt. Some were issued only for public debts & could not be used in private transactions. There was no standard value common to all of the colonies. British merchant-creditors were very uncomfortable with this system, not only because of the obvious complexity, but because of the rapid depreciation of the notes due to regular fluctuations in the colonial economy. On September 1, 1764, Parliament passed the Currency Act, effectively assuming control of the colonial currency system. The act prohibited the issue of any new bills and the reissue of existing currency. Parliament favored a "hard currency" system based on the pound sterling, but was not inclined to regulate the colonial bills. Rather, they simply abolished them. The colonies protested vehemently against this. They suffered a trade deficit with Great Britain to begin with & argued that the shortage of hard capital would further exacerbate the situation. Another provision of the Currency Act established what amounted to a "superior" Vice-admiralty court, at the call of Navel [sic] commanders who wished to assure that persons suspected of smuggling or other violations of the customs laws would receive a hearing favorable to the British, and not the colonial, interests.
Virtual Representation
A fundamental difference of opinion had developed between British authorities and the Americans on the related issues of taxing the colonists and their representation in Parliament.

On the surface, the Americans held to the view of actual representation, meaning that in order to be taxed by Parliament, the Americans rightly should have actual legislators seated and voting in London. James Otis argued for this form of representation in the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, but few other delegates supported him.

The British, on the other hand, supported the concept of virtual representation, which was based on the belief that a Member of Parliament virtually represented every person in the empire and there was no need for a specific representative from Virginia or Massachusetts, for example. In fact, virtual representation was not unknown in America. Legislators in the Virginia House of Burgesses could live in one district while representing another one. It could also be argued that property-owning adult males in much of colonial America virtually represented non-voting women, slaves and men without property.

Yet the differentiation between actual and virtual representation was really a convenient fiction from the American side. Most colonists realized the total impracticability of sending representatives across the Atlantic. London was too far away, too much time would be needed to issue instructions to colonial representatives, and any American representation would be so badly outnumbered as to make it totally ineffectual.

If taxes were necessary, then the Americans wanted their own assemblies to impose them. Further, the colonists wanted Parliamentary recognition of this perceived right. Essentially, "No taxation without representation" really meant, "No taxation by Parliament. No representation in Parliament. Let us run our own affairs."
Thomas Gage
He was a British general and governor of Massachusetts at the beginning of the American Revolution. He was born in Gloucestershire, England.

His capable service during the Seven Years War in the Braddock campaign, at Ticonderoga and Montreal, and in various administrative assignments, led to his appointment in 1763 as British commander-in-chief for North America.

While holding this position, he was named governor of Massachusetts in 1774, at the same time that Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party, which had happened the previous year.

Later, in a dispatch that reached him on April 14, 1775, Gage was ordered to take vigorous action, without reinforcements. This dispatch resulted in the march to Lexington and Concord on the morning of April 19, which resulted in the first engagement of the Revolution. Removed from command in October 1775
Stamp Act Congress
The Stamp Act Congress was a meeting in October of 1765 of delegates from the American Colonies that discussed and acted upon the recently passed Stamp Act. The meetings adopted a Declaration of Rights and Grievances and wrote letters or petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament. This Congress is viewed by some as the first American action in or as a precursor of the American Revolution.

The Congress

The Stamp Act's provisions caused a reaction throughout the colonies. The influence of the growing Sons of Liberty was increased by protests and resistance. In May, Virginia's House of Burgesses adopted resolutions, authored by Patrick Henry, that condemned the act. These, even including some more and stronger resolutions not adopted, were widely distributed throughout the colonies. On June 8, 1765 James Otis, supported by the Massachusetts Assembly sent a letter to each colony calling for a general meeting of delegates. The meeting was to be held in New York City in October.
Representatives from nine colonies met in New York. Though New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia did not send delegates, the Assemblies of those missing colonies nonetheless agreed to support the works of the Congress. The meetings were held in Federal Hall in New York, and the delegates assembled on October 7. They spent less than two weeks in discussion and at their final meeting on October 19, 1765 adopted the Declaration of Rights and approved its use in petitions to the King and two letters to Parliament.

The Declaration

The Declaration of Rights and Grievances raised fourteen points of colonial protest. In addition to the specifics of the Stamp Act taxes, it asserted that:
Only the colonial assemblies had a right to tax the colonies.
Trial by jury was a right, and the use of Admiralty Courts was abusive.
Colonists possessed all the rights of Englishmen.
Without voting rights, Parliament could NOT represent the colonists.


The Congress was an important step toward the American unity that ended in the American Revolution a decade later. The Albany Congress of 1754 had pointed out the advantages of common efforts, but had been convened at the request of the British government. This congress was called by the colonies themselves.
The delegates generally resolved to restrict English imports and to actively resist the imposition of the tax act. The protests were largely effective, and frequently resulted in violence directed at the appointed Stamp Tax Agents along with the destruction of stamps. The parliament repealed the Stamp Act the following spring, but the decline in trade may have had more impact than the petitions or violence. The embargo or consumer strike response wasn't nearly as effective as later Non-Importation Agreements but did show the Americans a method of having an important impact on British politics.
The cooperation of the colonies continued after the Congress. The effect of the circular letter that had created the Congress was maintained as the colonial legislatures began to more commonly appoint committees of correspondence for dealing with common issues.
While Parliament gave in to pressure by repealing the Stamp Act, they rejected the assertion that only the colonies could tax themselves. They retained the tax on Tea, and added taxes with the Sugar Act. The use of admiralty courts also continued, and the colonies subjected to the Townshend Acts.
Sons of Liberty
Sons of Liberty

Organization of American colonists formed in 1765 to oppose the Stamp Act.

Popular resentment was not so easily contained. When the act went into effect on Nov. 1, disciplined mobs immediately took action. Led by men who called themselves the Sons of Liberty (Often artisans, drinking buddies), the mobs demanded the resignation of newly appointed stamp tax collectors, mos of whom were native born colonists.

The name was taken from a speech by Isaac Barré in the British Parliament that referred to American colonials who opposed unjust British measures as “sons of liberty.” The group agitated for colonial resistance and helped prevent enforcement of the Stamp Act. After the act's repeal, the organization continued to oppose British measures against the colonists.
Charles Townshend
(1725-1767) British Statesman: While serving on the colonial Board of Trade in the early 1750's, Townshend became familiar with colonial affairs, and became convinced that colonial governors needed to be freed from the financial controls exerted by the provincial assemblies. Although he supported the Stamp Act in Parliament, he later voted for its repeal, and helped frame the Declaratory Act. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Townshend demanded increasing revenues from the colonists via parliamentary customs duties. The taxes on tea which he developed exacerbated American irritation at Britain, and eventually led to the Boston Tea Party. Townshend began the American Board of Customs to improve efficiency in revenue-collection, and was about to form a ministry when he died in 1767. An engaging and brilliant orator.

He himself delivered in the House of Commons many speeches unrivalled in parliamentary history for wit and recklessness; and one of them still lives in history as the "champagne speech." His last official act was to carry out his intention by passing through parliament resolutions, which even his colleagues deprecated in the cabinet, for taxing several articles, such as glass, paper and tea, on their importation into America, which he estimated would produce the insignificant sum of 40,000 for the English treasury, and which shrewder observers prophesied would lead to the loss of the American colonies. These measures were known as the Townshend Acts, and he received the support of his cousin Thomas Townshend who was also a minister in the government. Soon after this event he died somewhat suddenly on the 4th of September 1767.
Lord North
In matters of national finance, North excelled. His years at the Treasury paid off handsomely now. The magnitude of the National Debt had since the end of the Seven Years' War been of great concern to the men at the Treasury; North was no exception. He made use of a lottery to increase revenues without increasing the land tax (and thus not upsetting the Independent Country Gentlemen).

For the first three years of the North ministry, the American colonies appeared calm. North had stuck by the decision of the Grafton ministry to retain the 6 d. duty on tea imported into the colonies. The salaries of high officials (i.e., the governor, judges) were paid from its revenues. The colonists were of course angered by what they saw as an encroachment upon their own legislatures' prerogatives. Neither protest nor trade boycotts could dissuade North that the tea tax was legitimate as well as a means of demonstrating the supremacy of Parliament over the colonies. By early 1770, resistance had subsided.

Lord North's efforts to rescue the East India Tea Company from bankruptcy lead to the Boston Tea Party. Under the original proposal, the surplus inventories of tea would be shipped directly to the colonies. Consignees would be appointed to sell the tea in America. The 6 d. duty on tea would have been removed. North, however, was unwilling to remove the tea duty; a 3 d. duty would be retained. In May of 1773, the Tea Act passed the House of Commons with little opposition.

As information about the Tea Act filtered into the colonies, public opinion changed from placid to bitter resentment. Radicals vented against the retention of the tea tax. In Boston, the first tea shipment arrived in November. Patriots would not allow the ship to unload its cargo, and the despised governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, would not permit the ship to sail from the harbor without paying the duty. The impasse came to an end on the night of 16 December when Boston patriots, dressed as Indians, boarded the ship and dumped the tea chest into Boston harbor.

Word of the Boston Tea Party reached London on 20 January, 1774. Public opinion turned sharply against the colonists, especially Boston. The news was received bitterly by the North ministry. A policy of coercion was decided upon and Lord North drafted into legislation the Coercive Acts. The Boston Port Act, which would close the Boston harbor until the colonists paid for the destroyed tea, was passed on 31 March, with few objections, even by the friends of America. Additional measures followed: Massachusetts Government Act, 20 May; Administration of Justice Act, 20 May; and Quartering Act, 2 June--all with the intention of punishing Massachusetts, particularly Boston, for its actions.

Lord North intended on making a lesson of Massachusetts with the belief that the other colonies would not support her, but his assumptions were wrong. The moderates in the other colonies pledged their support to Massachusetts and called for a Continental Congress.

Tensions mounted between the colonies and Great Britain. General Thomas Gage, now governor of the insolent colony of Massachusetts, warned in his letters of the impossibility of enforcing the Massachusetts Government Act without additional troops.

By December, North realized that Great Britain was on the verge of war with her colonies. In January, he proposed a peace commission. He offered to eliminate the tea tax so long as the colonies promised to pay the salaries of civil authorities regularly. But it was too late. Events now overtook the hope of a peaceful reconciliation. On 16 April, 1775, a skirmish on the Lexington Green between Gage's troops and patriots transformed the American crisis into the American war. Bunker Hill followed later that summer. Lord North was forced to declare the colonies in a state of rebellion.

North knew he lacked the qualities to carry on a war with the colonies. He offered his resignation to George III. The King, however, was absolutely unwilling to accept it. Neither Chatham nor Rockingham could take his place; he despised them both. North would have to stay. It would be the first of many attempts by Lord North to resign.

In November, Lord George Germain, a disgraced soldier seeking to redeem himself, replaced Lord Dartmouth as American Secretary. Germain would be responsible for the conduct of the war, particularly strategy. He at once set to work, beginning by limiting the instructions of the peace commission so much so that they lacked any chance of reconciling the colonies--just as Germain wanted.

The war brought an increased burden to Lord North. As the First Lord of Treasury, he was responsible for the procurement of equipment and supplies for the army. All the supplies had to be gathered in England and then transported across the Atlantic to America; it was no easy task. He also had to buy soldiers from other countries and hire mercenaries. None of this was cheap and did considerable damage to his debt reduction efforts.

The defeat of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga in 1777 changed what was a colonial rebellion into a wider conflict. France soon recognized American independence and would join the colonies in their fight against her old enemy. North again submitted his resignation to the King and again he refused to accept it. He tried once more to make peace with the colonies through the creation of the Carlisle Commission, which was empowered to offer the colonists every concession except independence. Again, it was too late.

From June of 1778 to May of 1780, the American war stood at a stalemate. Germain had adopted a new strategy during this time--a southern strategy. The supposedly large numbers of loyalists in the southern colonies would be employed to re-establish royal authority in the colonies one by one. On 8 May, 1780, Gen. Henry Clinton's troops began firing on Charleston, South Carolina. The inadequate American forces there surrendered four days later on the 12th. Clinton turned over operation of the southern offensive to Gen. Cornwallis. Cornwallis headed inwards into the backcountry of South Carolina while he returned to the comforts of New York.

News of Clinton's quick success reached London later that summer and gave new hope that the colonies might be made to submit. Meanwhile, North had decided upon new parliamentary elections, in hopes of strengthening his majority in the House of Commons. The returns proved less than a success, but North would hold a majority in Parliament so long as no disaster occurred. Then came word of Yorktown on 25 November, 1781.

The surrender of Cornwallis was an unexpected surprise in London. When North was informed, he exclaimed, "Oh God, it's all over!" The Opposition in Parliament, led by Charles James Fox, turned up the heat on the North government, particularly Germain and the Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty. They were now joined by some of the governments' backbenchers, who began to cry for "a human sacrifice": Germain had to go. In January, he resigned from office
Declaratory Act
1766 Declaration by the British Parliament that accompanied repeal of the Stamp Act.

It stated that Parliament's authority was the same in America as in Britain and asserted Parliament's authority to make laws binding on the American colonies.
Townshend Act/Duties
Taxes on glass, paint, oil, lead, paper, and tea were applied with the design of raising £40,000 a year for the administration of the colonies. The result was the resurrection of colonial hostilities created by the Stamp Act.
Reaction assumed revolutionary proportions in Boston, in the summer of 1768, when customs officials impounded a sloop owned by John Hancock, for violations of the trade regulations. Crowds mobbed the customs office, forcing the officials to retire to a British Warship in the Harbor. Troops from England and Nova Scotia marched in to occupy Boston on October 1, 1768. Bostonians offered no resistance. Rather they changed their tactics. They established non-importation agreements that quickly spread throughout the colonies. British trade soon dried up and the powerful merchants of Britain once again interceded on behalf of the colonies.

In contrast to the Stamp Act, the laws were not a direct tax but a tax on imports.

The Townshend Acts created three new admirality courts to try Americans who ignored the law. The Acts led to outrage among the colonists and helped spark the Liberty seizure and riots of 1768.
Smugglers avoided the taxes by importing goods without the taxes and by organizing a boycott of the legitimate imports. Samuel Adams of Boston was a notable supporter of the boycott. The three-penny tax on tea was removed in the Tea Act to protect the British East India Company's trade leading to adverse economic consequences for the colonists and the Boston Tea Party.
Eventually, John Dickinson raised support to repeal the Townshend Acts by a series of 12 letters addressing himself as "The Farmer." The only act remaining was the tax on tea.
Restraining Act
Quartering Act of 1765
The Grenville government built up British troop strength in colonial North America at the end of the French and Indian War to protect the colonies against threats posed by remaining Frenchmen and Indians.

In March 1765, Parliament passed the Quartering Act to address the practical concerns of such a troop deployment. Under the terms of this legislation, each colonial assembly was directed to provide for the basic needs of soldiers stationed within its borders. Specified items included bedding, cooking utensils, firewood, beer or cider and candles. This law was expanded in 1766 and required the assemblies to billet soldiers in taverns and unoccupied houses.

British motivations for enforcing the Quartering Act were mixed. Some officials were legitimately concerned about protecting the colonies from attack and viewed this law as a logical means to do so. Also part of the calculation, however, was a desire to cut costs. If the colonies were to be protected, why should they not pay for the soldiers?

The reaction of the colonists was largely negative and was rooted in two issues:

Traditional fear of standing armies. The colonists generally preferred to rely on militia units rather than formal armies. Militiamen could be called for service during a particular crisis, then disbanded when the fighting was concluded.

Cost. The cost of expenses for an army was no small matter for the colonial assemblies. In the past when an attack by a foreign power was imminent, they usually responded with the necessary appropriations. However, in the mid-1760s most colonists no longer feared the French. Many had concluded that the soldiers were present for the purpose of assuring American compliance with unpopular programs drafted in England.

Resistance to the Quartering Act was strongest in New York. In January 1766, the assembly there refused to fund the full amount requested by the Crown. The New Yorkers reasoned that it was unfair to expect them to pay the full cost of Thomas Gage’s growing army. Bickering between the assembly and British officials continued into the fall, when the legislature voted to not fund at all. In October 1767, the New York assembly was suspended until the soldiers' needs were fully funded.

This crisis later passed, but an immense amount of bitterness remained and many colonists became suspicious about British intentions.
Daughters of Liberty
As public support to boycott British goods increased, Daughters of Liberty joined the support to condemn British importation. The Daughters of Liberty used their traditional skills to weave yarn and wool into fabric known as "homespun". They were recognized as patriotic heroines for their success, which made America less dependent on British textiles. In the countryside, while Patriots supported the non importation movements of 1765, and 1769, the daughters of liberty continued to support American resistance. In many small towns and villages women spun wool into homemade cloth. In 1774, the patriot women helped influence a decision made by Continental Congress to boycott all British goods.
Yarn and cloth produced by American women. During political boycotts in the 1760's it allowed the colonies to escape dependence on British textile manufacturers and creating a space for women to make a unique contribution to the colonial resistance.
Boston Massacre
Skirmish on March 5, 1770, between British troops and a crowd in Boston.

After provocation by the colonists, British soldiers fired on the mob and killed five men, including Crispus Attucks. The incident was widely publicized by Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and others as a battle for American liberty, and it contributed to the unpopularity of the British in the years before the American Revolution.

March 5, 1770 that helped spark the American Revolution. Tensions caused by the military occupation of Boston increased as soldiers fired into a crowd of civilians. John Adams said that on the night of the Boston Massacre, the foundation of America was laid.
Gaspee Affair
The Gaspée Affair was an important incident in the course of the American Revolution. The HMS Gaspée, a British ship that had been vigorously enforcing unpopular trade regulations, ran aground on June 9, 1772 off of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island while chasing the packet boat Hannah. In an act of defiance that gained considerable notoriety, the ship was attacked, boarded, stripped of valuables and torched by American patriots led by Abraham Whipple.

(June 10, 1772), in U.S. colonial history, act of open civil defiance of British authority when Rhode Islanders boarded and sank the revenue cutter Gaspee in Narragansett Bay. Headed by a leading merchant, John Brown, eight boatloads of armed, reputable citizens overpowered the crew of the Gaspee, which had run aground in pursuit of a smuggling vessel, disabled her commander, and…
Coercive Acts
Committees of Correspondence
Tea Act
Boston Tea Party
Incident on Dec. 16, 1773, in which American patriots dressed as Indians threw 342 chests of tea from three British ships into Boston Harbour.

Their leader was Samuel Adams. The action was taken to prevent the payment of a British-imposed tax on tea and to protest the British monopoly of the colonial tea trade authorized by the Tea Act. In retaliation, Parliament passed the punitive Intolerable Acts, which further united the colonies in their opposition to the British.

Hancock organized a boycott of tea from China sold by the British East India Company, whose sales in the colonies then fell from 320,000 pounds to 520 pounds. By 1773 the Company had large debts, huge stocks of tea in its warehouses, and no prospect of selling it because smugglers such as Hancock were importing tea without paying duty. The British Government passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to sell tea to the colonies without the usual colonial tax, thereby allowing them to undercut the prices of the colonial merchants and smugglers.
The ships carrying tea were prevented from landing as most American ports turned the tea away; at Boston however, the East India Company had the assistance of the governor—preparations were made to forcibly land the tea under the protection afforded by British armed vessels.
On December 16, 1773, the night before the tea was due to be landed, the Sons of Liberty, a group of about 60 local Boston residents, possibly organized by Samuel Adams, burst from the South Meeting House and headed toward Griffin's Wharf, dressed as Mohawks. There, three ships—the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver—were loaded with crates of tea. The men boarded the ships and began destroying the cargo. By 9 PM, with only one incident, they had smashed 342 crates of tea in all three ships and had thrown them into Boston Harbor. They took off their shoes, swept the decks, and made each ship's first mate attest that they had destroyed only the tea. 342 crates of tea were thrown into the Atlantic Ocean in Boston Harbor. The whole event was remarkably quiet and peaceful.
Quebec Act
1774 British statute establishing Quebec's government and extending its borders.

It provided for a governor and appointed council, religious freedom for Roman Catholics, and use of the French civil code. The act attempted to resolve the problem of making the colony a province of British North America and tried to build French-Canadian loyalty to the British. It also extended the borders of Quebec to include the land between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, a region claimed by American colonists. It was considered one of the Intolerable Acts, which led to the American Revolution.
Continental Congress
In the 1770's colonists organized into voluntary militia units that would be ready to face British troops in a battle on short notice. These soldiers formed the core of the citizen army that met the British at Lexington.
Lexington & Concord
The early months of 1775 were a period of great anxiety in Massachusetts. The city of Boston housed a large contingent of British soldiers who nursed shared antipathy with an increasingly sullen populace. Insults and fights between the two sides were commonplace. The tension was heightened by economic dislocation. The port of Boston had been closed in retaliation for the earlier Tea Party and traditional forms of self-government had been replaced by royal authority. Many of the Patriot leaders feared arrest and had left the city for the comparative safety of smaller communities in the countryside.

In the village of Lexington west of Boston, the residents had been preparing for a fight they thought was imminent. They had accumulated powder and shot during the winter, but the high cost of those items had made target practice a rarity. The presence of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, the two men most wanted by royal authorities, made Lexington a logical choice for the redcoats' attention.

Confirmation of the British advance was delivered to Lexington by Paul Revere and William Dawes. In the early hours of April 19 the Minutemen, so-called because of their pledge to be ready to fight "at a minute’s notice," began to gather on the village green. During the night the size of the force changed constantly as some men quietly departed for their homes and others appeared to lend their support.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775 in the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (Arlington), and Cambridge in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in the mainland of British North America.
About 900 British Army regulars under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith were ordered to capture military supplies that were reportedly stored by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. Weeks before the expedition, the Patriots had received intelligence warning of an impending British search and moved nearly all the supplies to safety. The patriots had also received details about British plans on the night before the battle, and information was rapidly supplied to the militia.
The first shots were fired in a skirmish at Lexington during the British Army's advance. The militia were outnumbered and fled. Other colonial soldiers at the North Bridge in Concord fought three companies of the king's troops. The British Army broke ranks and fled from the Minutemen after a pitched battle in open territory.
More Minutemen arrived in the following hours and inflicted heavy damage on the British regulars returning from Concord. Smith's expedition was rescued upon returning to Lexington by reinforcments under Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland. This combined force of around 1900 marched back to Boston under heavy fire in a successful tactical retreat, and the British reached the safety of Charlestown.
The British failed to maintain the secrecy and speed required to conduct a successful strike into hostile territory, and they seized no weaponry of significance. However, most British regulars returned to Boston unharmed. The occupation of surrounding areas by the Massachusetts Militia that evening marked the beginning the Siege of Boston.

The British were outraged by the American tactics, believing that real soldiers would confront their enemies in the open. Instead, the colonists would open fire from hidden positions as the army passed, then sprint ahead to another protected spot and repeat the process. The tired and angry British soldiers broke into houses along the path of retreat; any man remotely suspected of being one of the snipers was shot and his house burned.

Both Adams and Hancock escaped, and following the battle Gage issued a proclamation granting a general pardon to all who would demonstrate loyalty to the crown-with the notable exceptions of Hancock and Adams.
George Washington
Washington first gained prominence as an officer during the French and Indian War, a war which he inadvertently helped to start. Afterwards, he resigned his post to marry Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow with two children. He was elected to the House of Burgesses and became a revolutionary leader at the outset of the American Revolution, attending both the first and second Continental Congresses. Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), leading the Americans to complete victory over the British, the only General ever to achieve this feat. After the war he served as president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
Washington, a hugely popular and generally nonpartisan figure, was elected as the first President of the United States (1789–97) after the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The two-term Washington Administration was marked by the establishment of key American institutions that continue to operate. After his term was up, Washington retired to Mount Vernon for the remainder of his life, again voluntarily relinquishing power even as some wanted him to retain that power for life. Because of his central role in the founding of the United States and enduring legacy, Washington is sometimes called the "Father of his Country."
Thomas Jefferson
born April 13, 1743, Shadwell, Va.
died July 4, 1826, Monticello, Va., U.S. was the third (1801–1809) President of the United States, second (1797–1801) Vice President, first (1789–1795) United States Secretary of State, and an American statesman, ambassador to France, political philosopher, revolutionary, agriculturalist, horticulturist, land owner, architect, archaeologist, slaveowner, author, inventor, lawyer and founder of the University of Virginia. He was also the founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, and the first President from that party. The Jeffersonian Republicans, as they were often called, dominated American politics for over a quarter-century.

Jefferson is perhaps best known for being the primary author of the United States Declaration of Independence (1776), especially the first lines of the second paragraph, which laid the foundation for the American Revolution and American democracy:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are...

Many people consider Jefferson to be among the most brilliant men ever to occupy the Presidency.

He was a planter and became a lawyer in 1767; he was also a slaveholder, though he opposed slavery. While a member of the House of Burgesses (1769–75), he initiated the Virginia Committee of Correspondence with Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry. In 1774 he wrote the influential Summary View of the Rights of British America, stating that the British Parliament had no authority to legislate for the colonies. A delegate to the second Continental Congress, he was appointed to the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and became its primary author. He was elected governor of Virginia (1779–81) but was unable to organize effective opposition when British forces invaded the colony (1780–81). Criticized for his conduct, he retired, vowing to remain a private citizen. Again a member of the Continental Congress (1783–85), he drafted the first of the Northwest Ordinances for dividing and settling the Northwest Territory. In 1785 he succeeded Benjamin Franklin as U.S. minister to France. Appointed the first secretary of state (1790–93) by George Washington, he soon became embroiled in a bitter conflict with Alexander Hamilton over the country's foreign policy and their opposing interpretations of the Constitution. Their divisions gave rise to political factions and eventually to political parties. Jefferson served as vice president (1797–1801) under John Adams but opposed Adams's signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798); the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, adopted by the legislatures of those states in 1798 and 1799 as a protest against the Acts, were written by Jefferson and James Madison. In the presidential election of 1800 Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of votes in the electoral college; the decision was thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives, which chose Jefferson on the 36th ballot. As president, Jefferson attempted to reduce the powers of the embryonic federal government and to eliminate the national debt; he also dispensed with a great deal of the ceremony and formality that had attended the office of president to that time. In 1803 he oversaw the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the land area of the country, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In an effort to force Britain and France to cease their molestation of U.S. merchant ships during the Napoleonic Wars, he signed the Embargo Act. In 1809 he retired to his plantation, Monticello, where he pursued his interests in science, philosophy, and architecture. He served as president of the American Philosophical Society (1797–1815), and in 1819 he founded and designed the University of Virginia.
Declaration of Independence
Document approved by the Continental Congress that announced the separation of 13 North American British colonies from Britain.

The armed conflict during the American Revolution gradually convinced the colonists that separation from Britain was essential. Several colonies instructed their delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence. On June 7, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia offered a resolution for independence. The congress appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston to draft a declaration. Jefferson was persuaded to write the draft, which was presented with few changes on June 28. It began with a declaration of individual rights and then listed the acts of tyranny by George III that formed the justification for seeking independence. After debate and changes to accommodate regional interests, including deletion of a condemnation of slavery, it was approved on July 4 as “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.” It was signed by Congress president John Hancock, printed, and read aloud to a crowd assembled outside, then engrossed (written in script) on parchment and signed by the 56 delegates.

Ratified by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776; this anniversary is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States.
Bunker Hill
Important colonial victory early in the American Revolution.

Two months after the battles of Lexington and Concord, more than 15,000 colonial troops assembled near Boston to prevent the British army from occupying several hills around the city. The colonists fortified Bunker Hill (originally Breed's Hill) across the Charles River from Boston. Though they withstood a cannonade from British ships in Boston Harbor on June 17, 1775, and fought off assaults by 2,300 British troops, they were eventually forced to retreat. British casualties (about 1,000) and the colonists' fierce resistance convinced the British that subduing the rebels would be difficult.

The battle was a pyrrhic victory for Howe. His immediate objective was achieved, but the attack demonstrated the American will to stand in pitched battle, caused substantial British casualties, and did not change the status of the siege. After the battle, British General Henry Clinton remarked in his diary that "A few more such victories would have surely put an end to British dominion in America."
Olive Branch Petition
The Olive Branch Petition, written in the early days of the American Revolutionary War, was a letter to King George III from members of the Second Continental Congress who—for the final time—appealed to their king to redress colonial grievances in order to avoid more bloodshed.
When the Continental Congress convened in May 1775, the delegates were deeply divided over how to deal with the crisis with Great Britain. The first shots of the war had already been fired at Lexington and Concord; hostilities continued in June at Bunker Hill while the Congress was in session.
Moderates in the Congress, led by John Dickinson, still believed that King George might intercede on their behalf in order to prevent further escalation of the war. Despite the vehement objections of more radical delegates (particularly those from New England, where the fighting had occurred), the petition was adopted on 8 July 1775.
In the petition, written by Dickinson, the delegates insisted that their motives were to stop "the further effusion of blood" and to avert "the impending calamities that threaten the British Empire." The document expressed continuing loyalty to the king, and implored him to essentially agree to a cease-fire until colonial problems with the "Mother Country" could be amicably settled.
The petition reached London on 14 August 1775, but King George refused to receive it. The Crown had decided to teach the rebellious colonies—who were already showing an alarming inclination to invade Canada—a lesson. Soon, the colonists began to deliberate war.
Common Sense
Common Sense was a pamphlet first published on January 10, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War by Thomas Paine. Its pages contained a denouncement of British rule.
Arguments against British rule in Common Sense:
It was ridiculous for an island to rule a continent
America was not a "British nation"; it was composed of influences from all of Europe
Even if Britain was the "mother country" of America, that made her actions all the more horrendous, for no mother would harm her children so brutally
Being a part of Britain would drag America into unnecessary European wars, and keep it from the international commerce at which America excelled.
The distance between the two nations made the lag in time about a year for something to go round trip. If there was something wrong in the government, it would take a year before the new America heard back.
The New World was discovered shortly after the Reformation. This showed the Puritans that God wanted to give them a safe haven from the persecution of British rule.
The publication of this pamphlet was key in the growth of popular support for independence from Britain. Thomas Jefferson took ideas from both this publication and John Locke when writing the Declaration of Independence.
Less-quoted sections of the pamphlet include Paine's over-optimistic view of America's military potential at the time of the Revolution. For example, he spends pages describing how colonial shipyards, by using the large amounts of lumber available in the country, could quickly create a navy that could rival the Royal Navy.
'Common Sense' was tremendously popular. John Taylor Gatto has reported that "Thomas Paine’s Common Sense sold 600,000 copies to a population of 3,000,000, 20 percent of whom were slaves and 50 percent indentured servants."
Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737–June 8, 1809), intellectual, scholar, and idealist, is widely recognized as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A radical pamphleteer, Paine anticipated and helped foment the American Revolution through his powerful writings, most notably Common Sense, an incendiary tract advocating independence from Great Britain. An advocate for liberalism and constitutional republican government, he outlined his political philosophy in The Rights of Man, written both as a reply to Edmund Burke's view of the radical revolution in France and as a general political philosophy treatise. Paine was also noteworthy for his support of deism, taking its form in his theology treatise The Age of Reason, as well as for his eye-witness accounts of both the French and American Revolutions.
Trenton and Princeton
Engagements won by the Continental Army in the American Revolution.

(1776–77), in the American Revolution, battles notable as the first successes won by the Revolutionary general George Washington in the open field. After the capture of Fort Washington on Manhattan Island in November 1776, the British general Sir William Howe forced the Americans to retreat through New Jersey and across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.

On Dec. 25, 1776, Washington led a force of 6,000 troops across the ice-filled Delaware River to surprise the 1,400-man British-Hessian force at Trenton, N.J., and captured 900 troops. A British force of 7,000 troops under Charles Cornwallis arrived to force the American army into retreat. At night Washington led his men around the British to defeat an outpost at Princeton, causing Cornwallis to retreat to New Brunswick and enabling Washington to lead his troops into winter quarters near Morristown. The victories restored American morale and renewed confidence in Washington.

Unlike the Continental Congress, the King of England had at his command both seasoned troops and unlimited resources. It is not surprising then that the early stages of the war comprised a series of American defeats and embarrassments. The first break in this pattern began on Christmas night in 1776, when Washington led his army of cold, tired and hungry soldiers, many of them teenagers, across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, where they surprised and defeated a professional army of Hessian mercenaries at the Battle of Trenton on December 26.
Continental Army
The Continental Army was the unified command structure of the thirteen colonies fighting Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. The Army was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. Most of the Continental Army was disbanded on November 3, 1783 after the Treaty of Paris. A small residual force remained at West Point and some frontier outposts, until Congress created the United States Army by their resolution of June 3, 1784. George Washington was the commander-in-chief.
The Battle(s) of Saratoga are considered by many historians to have been the turning point of the American Revolutionary War and one of the most decisive battles in history. The defeat and capture of a major British military force in the Saratoga campaign by American revolutionary forces resulted in securing the northern American colonies from attacks out of Canada and convinced the rulers of France that it was worth extending the full measure of their military, political, and diplomatic support to the rebel American colonies.
Continental Dollar
The Continental Dollar was a series of notes or currency created by the Continental Congress to support the Revolution. They were also called Continentals, and rapidly became worthless. The loyalists to Great Britain waged economic warfare against the colonies by counterfeiting the Continental.

The Congress never redeemed the bills, and their part of the debt was not assumed by the new United States government. This, along with the preceeduing devaluation, gave rise to the saying ...not worth a Continental.
Benjamin Franklin
He represented the colony in England in a dispute over land and taxes (1757–62); he returned there in 1764 as agent for several colonies. The issue of taxation gradually caused him to abandon his initial support for a unified colonial government under British rule. Believing that taxation ought to be the prerogative of the representative legislatures, he opposed the Stamp Act and helped secure its repeal. He served as a delegate to the second Continental Congress and as a member of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. In 1776 he went to France to seek aid for the American Revolution. Lionized by the French, he negotiated a treaty that provided loans and military support for the U.S. In 1781 he helped negotiate a preliminary peace treaty with Britain. As a member of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, he was instrumental in achieving adoption of the Constitution of the U.S. He is regarded as one of the most extraordinary and brilliant public servants in U.S. history.
Election of 1800
The flaws inherent in the original electoral college were brought into full focus in this election. Under the United States Constitution, each presidential elector cast two votes, without distinction as to which was for President or for Vice President. The recipient of a majority of votes was elected President, while the Vice Presidency went to the recipient of the second greatest number of votes.
Though incumbent president John Adams was opposed once again by 1796 opponent Thomas Jefferson, it was Jefferson's running mate, Aaron Burr, who caused the nation's first constitutional crisis. Electors, intending to cast their votes for a Jefferson-Burr ticket, each cast their two votes for Jefferson and Burr, giving each of them 73 votes—a tie.

Jefferson's victory ended America's most acrimonious presidential campaign to date and brought to the forefront a serious constitutional crisis. As a result of the problems arising from the election, and to a lesser extent from the election of 1796, the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1804, providing that electors make a distinct choice between their selections for President and Vice President.
Whiskey Rebellion
The Whiskey Rebellion was an insurrection in 1794 by settlers in the Monongahela Valley in western Pennsylvania who fought against a federal tax on liquor and distilled drinks.
The ineffective government of the United States under the Articles of Confederation was replaced by a stronger federal government under the United States Constitution in 1788. This new government inherited a huge debt from the American Revolutionary War. One of the steps taken to pay down the debt was a tax imposed in 1791 on distilled spirits.
Large producers were assessed a tax of six cents a gallon. However, smaller producers, most of whom were farmers in the more remote western areas, were taxed at a higher rate of nine cents a gallon. These Western settlers were short of cash to begin with, and lacked any practical means to get their grain to market other than fermenting and distilling it into relatively portable distilled spirits. From Pennsylvania to Georgia, the western counties engaged in a campaign of harassment of the federal tax collectors. In the summer of 1794, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, remembering Shays' Rebellion from just eight years before, decided to make Pennsylvania a testing ground for federal authority. Washington ordered federal marshals to serve court orders requiring the tax protesters to appear in federal district court.
By August of 1794, the protests became dangerously close to outright rebellion and on August 7 several thousand armed settlers gathered near Pittsburgh. Washington then invoked the Militia Law of 1792 to summon the militias of several states. A force of 13,000 men was organized, roughly the size of the entire army in the Revolutionary War. Under the personal command of Washington, Hamilton, and Revolutionary War hero Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee the army marched to Western Pennsylvania and quickly suppressed the revolt. Two leaders of the revolt were convicted of treason, but pardoned by Washington.
This response marked the first time under the new Constitution that the federal government had used strong military force to exert authority over the nation's citizens. It also was the only time that a sitting President would personally command the military in the field.
The whiskey tax was repealed in 1802, never having been collected with much success.
In 1778, the British were forced to evacuate Philadelphia because of threatened action by the French fleet. During the same year, in the Ohio Valley, they suffered a series of setbacks which assured American domination of the northwest. Nevertheless, the British continued to press the war in the south. Early in 1780 they captured Charleston, the principal southern seaport, and overran the Carolina country. The following year they made an effort to conquer Virginia. But the French fleet, which temporarily gained control of American coastal waters that summer, ferried Washington's and Rochambeau's troops in boats down Chesapeake Bay. Their combined armies, totaling 15,000 men, penned in Lord Cornwallis' army of 8,000 at Yorktown on the Virginia coast. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered.

When the news of the American victory at Yorktown reached Europe, the House of Commons voted to end the war.

The Battle of Yorktown (1781) was a victory by a combined American and French force led by General George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau over a British army commanded by General Lord Charles Cornwallis. The surrender of Cornwallis' army caused the British government to negotiate an end to the American Revolutionary War.
A one-house assembly in which the elected legislators directly represent the people. Considered efficient and democratic, this type of assembly was established in Pennsylvania during the revolution.
A two-house assembly, usually a house of representatives and a senate, suggested by John Adams in his Thoughts on Government (1776) Different qualifications, procedures, term lengths, and means of election differentiate the two. Its existence ensures that each piece of legislation is reviewed and debated by two different groups.
Mixed Government
John Adam's 1776 plan called for three branches of government, each representing one function: executive, legislative, and judicial. This system of dispersed authority was devised to maintain a balance of power and ensure the legitimacy of governmental procedure.
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, commonly known as the Articles of Confederation, formed the first governing document of the United States of America. They combined the colonies of the American Revolutionary War into a loose confederation. The second Continental Congress adopted the Articles on November 15, 1777, after 16 months of debate. The Articles then languished for another three years before ratification was completed on March 1, 1781. The Articles were replaced by the United States Constitution on June 21, 1788, when the 9th state, New Hampshire, ratified the Constitution.

The Articles supported the Congressional direction of the Continental Army, and allowed the Thirteen Colonies to present a unified front when dealing with the European powers. But as an instrument of government, they were largely a failure. Congress could make decisions, but had no power to enforce them.

Perhaps the most important power that Congress was denied was the power of taxation: Congress could only request money from the states. Understandably, the states did not generally comply with the requests in full, leaving the confederation chronically short of funds. The states and the national congress had both incurred debts during the war, and paying congressional debts became a major issue.

Nevertheless the Continental Congress did take two actions with lasting impact. The Land Ordinance of 1785 established the general land survey and ownership provisions used throughout later American expansion. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 noted the agreement of the original states to give up western land claims and cleared the way for the entry of new states.
Northwest Ordinances
(1784, 1785, 1787)

Measures enacted by the U.S. Congress for the division and settlement of the Northwest Territory, the frontier region extending north of the Ohio River to the Great Lakes and west of Pennsylvania to the Mississippi River.

The original ordinance, written by Thomas Jefferson, divided the territory into self-governing districts and set population requirements for statehood. The final ordinance, written partly by Rufus King, set land-grant sizes and prices, provided public land for schools, outlawed slavery, and guaranteed civil liberties. It established the principle of admitting new states on equal terms with the original 13 states.

The primary effect of the ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the United States out of the region around the Great Lakes north and west of the Ohio River. The primary effect of the ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the United States out of the region around the Great Lakes north and west of the Ohio River.

Arguably the single most important piece of legislation passed by the Continental Congress other than the Declaration of Independence, it established the precedents by which the United States would expand westward across North America by the admission of new states, rather than by the expansion of existing states. The banning of slavery in the territory had the effect of establishing the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slave territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. This division helped set the stage for the balancing act between free and slave states that was the basis of the most critical political question in American politics in the 19th century until the Civil War.
Shay’s Rebellion
he Shays Rebellion (also Shays's or Shays') was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts, United States, that lasted from 1786 to 1787. Many of the rebels, known as Shaysites or Regulators, were small farmers angered by high debt and tax burdens. The rebellion started on August 29, 1786. A state militia that had been raised as a private army defeated the main Shaysite force February 3, 1787. Most of the rebels were treated leniently. The lack of an institutional response to the uprising led to a re-evaluation of the Articles of Confederation and the negotiations for a new Constitution.

Later in 1787 twelve states sent delegates to a meeting in Philadelphia. Their purpose was to change the Articles of Confederation, but the subject changed to negotiations that were to lead to the United States Constitution. Fear of uprisings like Shays Rebellion were a motivation for creating a strong central government, especially the creation of a standing federal army. In addition many states moved their capitals to rural regions, where state governments would be better informed of local events and better able to control such uprisings.
Shays Rebellion strongly influenced the decision to call for the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Constitutional Convention
Assembly that drafted the Constitution of the United States.

All states but Rhode Island sent delegates in response to a call by the Annapolis Convention for a meeting in Philadelphia to amend the Articles of Confederation. The delegates decided to replace the Articles with a document that strengthened the federal government. An important issue was the apportioning of legislative representation. Two plans were presented: the Virginia plan, favoured by the large states, apportioned representatives by population or wealth; the New Jersey plan, favoured by the small states, provided for equal representation for each state. A compromise established the bicameral Congress to ensure both equal and proportional representation. The document was approved on September 17 and sent to the states for ratification.
Virginia Plan
The Virginia Plan was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The interests of the larger states were given an airing when Edmund Randolph presented to the Convention a series of proposals (written by James Madison), which came to be known as the Virginia Plan (or Large State Plan or Randolph Plan). It advanced the following features for the proposed new government:

The legislature was to be bicameral (two houses) and representation was to be proportional (based upon population)

The chief executive was to be chosen by the legislature

The judiciary was to be chosen by the legislature.

The radical VA Plan provided for a two-house national legistlature with the authority to lesgislate "in all cases to which the states are incompetent" and to veto or "to negative al laws passed by the several states, contravening itn the opinion of hte National Legislature, the articles of Union." If the national government had the opwer to veto all state laws, Madison believed, it could then play the same role the English crown had been supposed to play in the British Empire-that of "disinterested & dispassionate umpire" over clashing interests.

For many, this VA Plan was much too extreme. Most delegates were prepared to grant substatial power to the federal government, including the right to tax, regulate commerce, and execute federal laws. But many refused to allow such a weakening of state authority as the VA Plan proposed.

A competing proposal was put forward in the New Jersey Plan.
New Jersey Plan
After two weeks of debating the Virginia Plan, a counterproposal was put forth by William Patterson, which has become known as the New Jersey Plan (or the Small State Plan or the Patterson Plan). Patterson's ideas amounted to no more than a simple reshaping of the Articles of Confederation.

The plan once again offered the idea of a unicameral (one house) legislature in which all states would have an equal number of votes.

Essentially amended the Articles of Confederation by adding to the powers of Congress, but at the same time it maintained the basic sovereignty of the states. With two such opposite proposals before it, the Convention approached a crisis in the middleof June 1787.
Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles about the United States Constitution, first published serially in New York City newspapers (the Independent Journal, the New-York Packet and the Daily Advertiser) between October 27, 1787 and May 28, 1788. A compilation, called The Federalist, was published in 1788.
The articles were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, under the pseudonym "Publius" in honor of Publius Valerius Publicola. Madison is generally credited as the father of the Constitution and became the fourth President of the United States.

The Federalist Papers were intended to explain the new Constitution to the residents of New York state and persuade them to ratify it. In particular, they were a response to articles arguing that the Constitution should be rejected, which began appearing in New York's papers shortly before the Federalist series started — the important Anti-Federalist authors Cato and Brutus debuted on September 27 and October 18 of 1787.

The Federalist Papers serve as a primary source for interpretation of the Constitution. They also outline the philosophy and motivation of the proposed system of government, as it was presented by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay. The authors of the Federalist Papers were not above using the opportunity to provide their own "spin" on certain provisions of the constitution to (i) influence the vote on ratification and (ii) influence future interpretations of the provisions in question.
Federalist No. 10 and Federalist No. 51 are generally regarded as the most influential of the 85 articles; 10 advocates for a large, strong republic, 51 explains the need for separation of powers.
Bill of Rights
he Bill of Rights is the name given to the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution. When the Constitution was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification, many of its opponents claimed that the reason the Constitution did not include a bill of rights was because the document was an aristocratic scheme to remove the rights of Americans. Supporters, known as Federalists, assured Americans that a bill of rights would be added by the First Congress. The original copy of the Bill of Rights can be seen by the public today at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

The idea of adding a bill of rights to the Constitution was originally controversial. The argument was that the Constitution, as written, did not explicitly enumerate or guarantee the rights of the people, and as such needed an addition to ensure such protection. However, many Americans at the time were opposed to the idea of a bill of rights: If such a bill were created, they feared that it would eventually come to be interpreted as a list of the only rights Americans had. In other words, the list of rights would be the only rights one had, and if interpreted narrowly, the existence of such a bill of rights could effectively be used to constrain the liberty of the American people instead of ensuring it.

Supporters of a bill of rights argued that such a list of rights should not and would not be interpreted as being exhaustive; In other words, the rights to be enumerated would be some of the most important rights that people had, but many other rights existed as well. People in this school of thought were confident that the judiciary would interpret these rights in an expansive fashion.

The Bill of Rights was easily passed by the House on September 25, 1789. On November 20th of that same year, New Jersey became the first state in the newly formed Union to ratify these amendments. Other states followed, and the last ten of the original twelve amendments—now designated as the First through Tenth Amendments—became law on December 15, 1791, when they were ratified by the Virginia legislature. These ten amendments quickly became known as the Bill of Rights.
Great Compromise
The Connecticut Compromise of 1787 in the United States, later known as the Great Compromise, was struck in the creation of legislative bodies. It joined the Virginia Plan, which favored representation based on population, and the New Jersey plan, which featured each state being equal.

The compromise proposed two houses: a lower house which was elected in proportion to population, and an upper house, where the people of each state, regardless of size, collectively would have equal representation. This resulted in the current United States House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, respectively.

he debate on the Virginia and New Jersey plans revealed the dangerous jealousy between the large states, demanding representation according to population, and the small states, insisting upon equal representation. Men on each side repeatedly threatened to break up the convention and go home. The large states were the stronger and carried a resolution against…