What ideas did John Adams promote for the country’s new republican government?
II. The War and American Society
A. Although African Americans and women had helped with the Revolutionary War
effort, greater equality and liberty after the war applied mostly to white men.
B. Women played an important role in the Revolutionary War at home and in battle.
Some women ran the family farm during the war. Others traveled with the army to
cook, wash, and nurse the wounded. A few even joined the battlefield. Molly Pitcher
became well known for carrying water to Patroit gunners during the Battle of
Monmouth. After the Revolution, women made some advances. They could more easily
obtain a divorce. They also gained greater access to education.
C. Thousands of enslaved African Americans obtained their freedom during and after the
war. Emancipation became a major issue. Many American leaders felt that enslaving
people conflicted with the new views on liberty and equality. Although free, these
African Americans faced discrimination, segregation, and voting restrictions.
D. In 1816 African American church leaders formed the first independent African
American denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
E. Southern leaders were uninterested in ending slavery because they felt slaves were
needed to sustain their agricultural economy.
F. Virginia was the only southern state to take steps to end slavery. In 1782 the state
passed a law encouraging manumission, or the voluntary freeing of enslaved persons,
especially those who had fought in the Revolution.
G. After the war, Loyalists were often shunned by their friends and occasionally had their
property seized by state governments. Many fled to England, the British West Indies,
or British North America.
What advances did women make after the war ended?
III. An American Culture Emerges
A. The Revolution created nationalist feelings because all Americans were fighting a common
enemy. This feeling gave rise to many patriotic symbols and American folklore.
B. American painters John Trumbull and Charles Willson Peale depicted heroic
deeds and American leaders of the Revolution in their works. They helped build an
C. American leaders thought that an educated public was critical to the success of the
new republic. Many state constitutions provided government-funding for universities.
In 1795 the University of North Carolina became the first state university in the
How did elementary education in America change after the war?
I. The Achievements of the Confederation Congress (pages 158–159)
A. In November 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation
and Perpetual Union. This was a plan for a loose union of the states under Congress.
B. The Articles of Confederation set up a weak central government. The Confederation
Congress met just once a year. It had the power to declare war, raise armies, and sign
treaties. It, however, did not have the power to impose taxes or regulate trade.
C. The only way the Confederation Congress had to raise money to pay its debts were to
sell its land west of the Appalachian Mountains. Congress arranged this land into
townships to make it easier to divide, sell, and govern the land.
D. The Congress also set up the Northwest Ordinance as a basis for governing much of
this territory. The ordinance created a new territory north of the Ohio River and east of
the Mississippi River, which could become three to five states. When the population of
a territory reached 60,000, it could apply to become a state. The ordinance guaranteed
certain rights to the people living there, and it banned slavery.
E. The Confederation Congress negotiated trade treaties with European countries. By
1790 the trade of the United States was greater than the trade of the American colonies
before the Revolution.
Why was the Northwest Ordinance set up?
II. The Congress Falters
A. After the Revolutionary War, British merchants flooded American markets with inexpensive
British goods. This drove many American artisans out of business. American
states imposed duties, or taxes, on imported goods. The states did not all impose the
same duties, however, so the British would land their goods at states with the lowest
taxes or restrictions.
B. Because the Confederation Congress could not regulate commerce, the states set up
customs posts on their borders and levied taxes on other states’ goods to raise
money. This weakness of the Confederation threatened the union of the states.
C. The Confederation Congress had other problems with foreign policy. The federal government
had no powers over the states, so it could not force the states to pay their
debts to Britain or to return property to Loyalists, which was part of the Treaty of
Paris. Also, the Congress had no way to raise money to pay these debts.
D. The British retaliated by refusing to evacuate American soil as promised in the treaty.
Since the Congress could not regulate trade, it could not force the British into settlement.
Also, the limited powers of the Confederation Congress prevented it from
working out a diplomatic solution with Spain when Spain stopped Americans from
depositing their goods on Spanish territory at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
E. The end of the Revolutionary War and the slowdown of economic activity with Britain
caused a severe recession in the United States. To pay for the war, many states had
issued bonds as a way to borrow money from wealthy citizens. To pay back the bondholders,
many people urged the state governments to issue paper money. States did
not have the gold and silver to back paper money, but many of them issued it anyway.
The paper money greatly declined in value.
F. Shays’s Rebellion broke out in Massachusetts in 1786. It started when the government
of Massachusetts decided to raise taxes to pay off its debt instead of issuing paper
money. The taxes were worst for farmers, especially those in the western part of the
state. Those who could not pay their taxes and other debts lost their farms. Farmers
rebelled by shutting county courthouses. The rebellion, led by Daniel Shays, included
about 1,200 farmers. They went to a state arsenal to get weapons. A government militia
defended the arsenal against the rebels, killing four farmers.
G. Many Americans began to see the risk of having a weak central government. They
called for a change in government.
What weaknesses of the Confederation Congress led to a call for change in the United
I. The Constitutional Convention
A. People who supported a stronger central government were called nationalists. George
Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton were
among the prominent nationalists. Hamilton suggested that a convention of states be
set up to revise the Articles of Confederation. All states, except Rhode Island, sent
delegates to the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia in 1787.
B. Most of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention had experience in government.
George Washington was presiding officer. James Madison kept records of the
debates. The meetings were closed to the public.
C. Edmund Randolph introduced the Virginia Plan. This plan proposed throwing out
the Articles of Confederation and creating a new national government with the power
to make laws binding upon the states and to raise its own money through taxes. It also
called for a national government made up of three branches of government— legislative,
executive, and judicial.
D. The Virginia Plan proposed that the legislature be divided into two houses. Voters
in each state would elect members of the first house. Members of the second house
would be elected by the first house. The Virginia Plan benefited states with large populations
because in both houses, the number of representatives for each state would
reflect the population of that state.
E. The New Jersey Plan was proposed by William Paterson. This plan revised the
Articles of Confederation to make the central government stronger. Congress would
have a single house in which each state would be equally represented. Congress
would have the power to raise taxes and regulate trade.
F. Congress voted to proceed with the Virginia Plan with the purpose of working on a
new constitution for the United States.
In what ways did the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan differ?
II. A Union Built on Compromise
A. The delegates of the Constitutional Convention were divided geographically. The
small states wanted changes that would protect them against the big states. Northern
and Southern states were divided over the issue of slavery in the new constitution.
B. The convention appointed a special committee to resolve differences between the large
and small states. The committee worked out the Great Compromise. It proposed that
in the House of Representatives, the states would be represented according to the size
of their populations. The Senate would have equal representation. The voters in each
state would elect the House of Representatives. The state legislators would choose the
C. The Three-Fifths Compromise came up with a plan for counting enslaved people in a
state. Every five enslaved people in a state would count as three free persons for determining
both representation and taxes.
D. Southern delegates insisted that the new constitution forbid interference with the slave
trade and limit Congress’s power to regulate trade. Northern delegates wanted a government
with control over foreign imports into the United States. A compromise over
these issues said that the new Congress could not tax exports. It also could not ban the
slave trade until 1808 or impose high taxes on the import of enslaved persons.
E. The Constitution was approved by the Congress. Before it could take effect, however,
at least nine of the thirteen states needed to ratify the Constitution.
How did the Great Compromise satisfy both large and small states?
III. A Framework for Limited Government
A. The Constitution was based on the principle of popular sovereignty, or rule by the
people. The Constitution created a system of government called federalism. This
divided the government between the federal, or national, government and the state
B. The Constitution provided for a separation of powers among the three branches of
government. The legislative branch makes the laws. It is made up of the two houses
of Congress. The executive branch enforces the laws. It is headed by a president. The
judicial branch interprets federal laws. It is made up of a system of federal courts.
C. The Constitution provides for a system of checks and balances to prevent any one of
the three branches of government from becoming too powerful. The powers of the
President include proposing legislation, appointing judges, putting down rebellions,
and the ability to veto, or reject, legislation.
D. The powers of the legislative branch include the ability to override the veto with a
two-thirds vote in both houses. The Senate approves or rejects presidential appointments.
Congress can impeach, or formally accuse of misconduct, and then remove the
president or any high official in the executive or judicial branch.
E. The judicial branch of government would hear all cases arising under federal laws and
F. The Constitution has a system for making amendments, or changes to the Constitution.
There is a two-step process for amending the Constitution—proposal and ratification.
New amendments can be proposed by a vote of two-thirds of the members of both
houses of Congress, or two-thirds of the states can call a constitutional convention to
propose new amendments. A proposed amendment must be ratified by three-fourths
of the state legislatures or by conventions in three-fourths of the states.
How does the Constitution provide for a separation of powers?
I. A Great Debate
A. People who supported the Constitution were called Federalists. Supporters of the
Federalists and the new Constitution included large landowners, merchants and artisans
from large coastal cities, and many farmers who lived near the coast or along
rivers that led to the coast.
B. Opponents to the Constitution were called Antifederalists. Many opponents believed
the new Constitution should include a bill of rights. Many opposed the Constitution
because they thought it endangered the independence of the states. Antifederalists
included some prominent American leaders and western farmers living far from the
C. Factors that worked against the Antifederalists included a negative campaign, they
had nothing to offer in place of the Constitution, the Federalists were better organized
and had the support of most newspapers. A collection of 85 essays written by James
Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay in The Federalist summarized the
Federalists’ arguments for ratification.
What factors worked against the Antifederalists?
II. The Fight for Ratification
A. The first state conventions took place in December 1787 and January 1788. Delaware,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut quickly ratified the Constitution.
B. In order to get the Constitution ratified in Massachusetts, Federalists promised to add
a bill of rights to the Constitution once it was ratified and to support an amendment
that would reserve for the states all powers not specifically granted to the federal
C. Many feared that without the support of Virginia and New York, the new federal
government would not succeed. Virginia ratified the Constitution when the Federalists
agreed to add a bill of rights. New York agreed to ratify the Constitution after it
learned that Virginia and New Hampshire had ratified it. New York did not want to
operate independently of all of the surrounding states.
D. By June 1788, all states except Rhode Island and North Carolina had ratified the
Constitution—enough to establish the new government. By 1790 both North Carolina
and Rhode Island had also ratified the Constitution.
What finally convinced Virginia and New York to ratify the Constitution?
I. Creating a New Government
A. In 1789 Congress created the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the
Department of War, and the Office of the Attorney General.
B. President George Washington chose Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state. Alexander
Hamilton became head of the Treasury Department. General Henry Knox served as
secretary of war, and Edmund Randolph became the first attorney general. This group
of department heads who advised the president became known as the cabinet.
C. The judicial branch as well as the first federal judges were established. John Jay
became the first chief justice of the United States.
D. In 1791, 10 amendments to the Constitution went into effect. These amendments are
known as the Bill of Rights. The first eight amendments offered safeguards for individual
rights against actions of the federal government. The Ninth Amendment states that
people have rights other than the ones listed. The Tenth Amendment states that any
powers not specifically listed to the federal government would be reserved for the
What were some of the first tasks the new government faced?
II. Financing the Government
A. By the end of 1789, the government needed additional monies to continue to operate.
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton came up with two very different plans to
help the government with its finances.
B. James Madison felt the government should raise money by taxing imports from
other countries. The Tariff of 1789 made all importers pay five percent of the value
of their cargo when they landed in the United States. Shippers were also required
to pay a tax depending on how much their ships carried. This angered many Southern
planters. They began feeling the government did not have their best interests in mind.
C. Alexander Hamilton supported the tariff, but he felt the government also needed the
ability to borrow money.
D. To finance the Revolutionary War, the Confederation Congress had issued bonds, or
paper notes promising to repay money within a certain amount of time with interest.
Hamilton wanted to accept these debts at full value, believing the bond owners would
then have a stake in the success of the government and be willing to lend money in
E. The opposition, led by Madison, felt that Hamilton’s plan was unfair to farmers and
war veterans who had sold their bonds to speculators—people willing to take a risk
with the hope of future financial gain.
F. Southerners were upset because Northerners owned the bonds while most of the tax
money used to pay off the debt would come from the South. In 1790 Southerners were
convinced to vote for Hamilton’s plan in return for the relocation of the United States
capital to a southern location called the District of Columbia.
G. Hamilton asked Congress to create a national bank so that the government could
manage its debts and interest payments. The bank would also give loans to the government
and individuals and issue paper money. The paper money would in turn
encourage trade and investments and stimulate economic growth.
H. Objections to the bank came from Southerners, who felt only the Northerners could
afford the bank’s stock. Madison felt Congress could not establish a bank because it
was not within the federal government’s enumerated powers, or powers specifically
mentioned in the Constitution.
I. The Bank of the United States was passed after Hamilton argued that the “necessary
and proper” clause in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution created implied powers,
or powers not specifically listed in the Constitution but necessary for the government
to do its job.
J. In 1791 Hamilton’s proposed tax on the manufacture of American whiskey passed in
Congress. Western farmers were outraged by the tax, and in 1794 the Whiskey
Rebellion began. Washington sent in 13,000 troops to stop the rebellion.
Why was it important to Southerners that the capital be moved to a southern location?
III. The Rise of Political Parties
A. The split in Congress over Hamilton’s financial plan resulted in the formation of two
B. The Federalists, led by Hamilton, wanted a strong national government in the hands
of the wealthy. They believed in manufacturing and trade as the basis of wealth and
power. Artisans, merchants, manufacturers, and bankers supported the Federalist
Party. Supporters included urban workers and Eastern farmers.
C. Madison and Jefferson led the Democratic-Republicans. Their party was referred to
as the Republicans and later became the Democrats. Jefferson and the Republicans
believed the strength of the United States came from its independent farmers. His
ideas were referred to as agrarianism, or the belief that owning land enabled people
to become independent. The group supported agriculture over trade and commerce.
They favored the rights of states against the power of the federal government. The
rural South and West tended to support Republicans.
What caused the split in Congress that led to the formation of political parties?
Notes provided by
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Notes from a Civics Perspective
I. Influences from England’s Early Government
A. The English brought with them a history of limited and representative government.
England was ruled by a monarch—a king or queen, but nobles held much power.
B. The nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. This document upheld rights
of landowners including equal treatment under the law and trial by one’s peers. It
limited the power of the king or queen.
C. Nobles and church officials who advised Henry III developed into a legislature—
a lawmaking body—known as Parliament. In a power struggle, Parliament removed
King James II from the throne. This peaceful transfer of power was the Glorious
Revolution. From then on, no ruler would have more power than the legislature.
D. Parliament drew up the English Bill of Rights. It required the monarch to get
Parliament’s consent to impose taxes, raise an army, or create special courts. It guaranteed
free elections, free speech, a fair jury, and no cruel and unusual punishments.
E. In its early days, England had no written laws. People developed rules to live by
which came to have the force of law. Judges made rulings consistent with precedents,
or rulings in earlier cases that were similar. The system of law based on
precedent and custom is known as common law. Our laws are based on English