Grade us history Facts Lake Travis Independent School District



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8th Grade US History Facts

Lake Travis Independent School District


Important dates

  1. Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, was founded in 1607.

  2. Plymouth, the second permanent English settlement, was founded and the Mayflower Compact was signed in 1620.

  3. The Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson was signed on July 4, 1776.

  4. The Constitution of the United States was written in 1787 which sets out the laws and principles of the national government.

  5. President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803.

  6. The Civil War was fought from 1861-1865. The North was victorious.


Vocabulary for all year

  1. A tariff is a tax on goods brought into a country.

  2. An abolitionist was a person who wanted to end slavery in the United States.

  3. A protective tariff is a tax placed on goods from another country to protect the home industry.

  4. Suffrage is the right to vote.

  5. Civil Disobedience is the refusal to obey a government law or laws as a means of passive resistance because of one’s moral conviction or belief.


Exploration and Colonization

  1. The House of Burgesses was the first representative assembly in the new world. It was in the colony of Virginia. It protected individual rights of the colonists.

  2. The Mayflower Compact was the agreement signed by most of the men on the ship in 1620 by the Pilgrims in Plymouth. It established self-government and majority rule. It would become a model for representative government.

  3. Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was the first written constitution in the colonies. This document, written by the people, stated that people had the right to elect governors, judges, and a legislature.

  4. Thomas Hooker founded Connecticut and influenced the writing of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. He believed in democratic ideas allowing for the people to limit the power of the government which operates with the consent of the governed.

  5. Roger Williams founded Rhode Island which allowed religious toleration. He also believed in separation of church and state.

  6. William Penn founded Pennsylvania for the Quakers who believed everyone was equal in God’s eyes. His colony was an experiment of equality and citizen involvement in the government.

  7. William Blackstone, an English scholar who wrote the historical and analytical treatise on common law (Commentaries on the Laws of England); considered as the definitive pre-Revolutionary War source of common law; believed strongly in religious tolerance; supported the idea of self-defense (later became the 2nd Amendment); wrote about “natural rights” which included life and liberty

  8. John Locke, an English Enlightenment philosopher, believed that people had natural rights of life, liberty and protection of property. He also believed the government can be changed by the people if the government is not protecting the people’s rights. He also discussed legislative and executive branches of a government.

  9. Charles de Montesquieu, a French Enlightenment thinker, expanded on Locke’s beliefs. He added the judiciary to Locke’s executive and legislature. He also wrote of the separation of powers.

  10. The Enlightenment was a movement during the 1700s that spread the idea that knowledge, reason, and science could improve society.

  11. First Great Awakening was a religious movement during the colonial times proclaiming salvation for all. Many new churches were formed. It encouraged equality and the right to question authority.


American Revolution

  1. The Treaty of Paris of 1763 ended the French and Indian War in which the British won and effectively kicked the French out of North America.

  2. Mercantilism is an economic theory that a country’s strength is measured by the amount of wealth it has, that a country should sell more than it buys, and that the colonies exist for the benefit of the Mother Country.

  3. The Proclamation of 1763 closed the land west of the Appalachians to settlers.

  4. The Sugar Act placed a tax on foreign sugar. The colonists objected to being taxed without representation.

  5. The Stamp Act was a British tax placed on printed material in the colonies (newspapers, cards, legal documents, etc.).

  6. The Townshend Acts was a British tax on imported items such as glass, lead, silk, tea, and paper.

  7. The Tea Act gave a monopoly to the British East India Company. American colonists could only buy tea from this company and nowhere else. This act resulted in the Boston Tea Party.

  8. The Coercive Acts were also known as the Intolerable Acts and were designed to punish the people of Massachusetts for their resistance against Britain. It was a British reaction to the Boston Tea Party.

  9. Tyranny is a cruel and unjust government.

  10. Unalienable rights are rights that cannot be given up, taken away or transferred. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are some of those rights.

  11. The first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington, Massachusetts.

  12. Concord, Massachusetts was the site of the first real battle of the American Revolution immediately following the shots fired at Lexington.

  13. The Battle of Saratoga was the turning point of the American Revolution as it gave France a reason to enter the war against Britain.

  14. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, was the winter of 1777 campsite of Washington’s army. Even though the weather and conditions were harsh, the men were trained to become more of a professional army.

  15. The British defeat at Yorktown, Virginia by George Washington’s troops signaled the end of the American Revolution. (Cornwallis = British general)

  16. The Treaty of Paris of 1783 ended the American Revolution and forced Britain to recognize the United States as an independent nation and set the borders of the United States.

  17. The Articles of Confederation was the first American constitution. Created by the Second Continental Congress during the American Revolution, it was a very weak document that limited the power of the national government by giving states the final authority over all decisions.


Writing of the Constitution

  1. The Magna Carta, signed in 1215 by King John of England, was the first document that limited power of the ruler.

  2. The English Bill of Rights protected the rights of English citizens and became the basis for the American Bill of Rights.

  3. The Great Compromise combined two plans for government creating two houses of Congress. One based representation on population (Virginia Plan); the other gave equal representation to each state (New Jersey Plan).

  4. Bicameral is consisting of two houses, or chambers, especially in a legislature.

  5. Three-fifths Compromise counted slaves for the purposes of both representation and taxation.

  6. Ratify means to approve by vote.

  7. Federalists were supporters of the Constitution who favored a strong national government.

  8. Antifederalists were people opposed to the Constitution, preferring more power be given to the state governments than to the national government.

  9. The Federalist Papers were a series of essays written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton, defending the Constitution and the principles on which the government of the United States was founded.

  10. The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the Constitution and detail the protection of individual liberties.

  11. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law” restricting freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition.

  12. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of states to organize militias, or armies, and the right of individuals to bear arms.

  13. The Third Amendment forbids the government to order private citizens to allow soldiers to live in their homes.

  14. The Fourth Amendment requires that warrants be issued if property is to be searched or seized (taken) by the government.

  15. The Fifth Amendment protects an accused person from having to testify against him or herself (self-incrimination); bans double jeopardy, and guarantees that no person will suffer the loss of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

  16. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a speedy public trial by an impartial jury; the right to a lawyer; the right to cross examine witnesses; and the right to force witnesses at a trial to testify.

  17. The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil suits(non-criminal cases).

  18. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail or fines.

  19. The Ninth Amendment states that the people have rights other than those specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

  20. The Tenth Amendment states that powers not given to the federal government belong to the states.


A More Perfect Union

  1. A Democracy is a form of government that is run for and by the people, giving people the supreme power.

  2. Representative Government is a system of government in which voters elect representatives to make laws for them.

  3. A Republic is a nation in which voters choose representatives to govern them.

  4. Republicanism is a philosophy of limited government with elected representatives serving at the will of the people.

  5. Separation of Powers is a system in which each branch of government has its own powers. The Three Branches of Government are the Legislative Branch (makes laws), the Judicial Branch (interprets the laws), and the Executive branch (enforces the laws).

  6. Checks and Balances is a system set up by the Constitution in which each branch of the federal government has the power to check, or control, the actions of the other branches.

  7. Federalism is the dividing of power between the states and the national government. Some powers are delegated to the states and some only to the national government. There are some that are shared powers.

  8. Popular Sovereignty is a political theory that states the government is subject to the will of the people. This theory was seen in the practice of allowing each territory to decide for itself whether or not to allow slavery.

  9. Amend means to change. Proposal by Congress (by 2/3 vote of both houses) OR proposal from a convention called by 2/3 of the States. It then goes to the state legislatures to be ratified, must have 3/4 votes to pass OR passage by 3/4 votes in special state conventions.


Early Republic

  1. The Whiskey Rebellion occurred in western Pennsylvania when farmers rebelled about a tax on whiskey and the grain that was used to make it. Washington sent in the army to show the national government had the power to enforce its laws.

  2. The first political parties began during Washington’s term. The Federalists were led by Alexander Hamilton who believed in more national power and the Democratic-Republicans were led by Thomas Jefferson believed in more state powers.

  3. George Washington’s Farewell Address advised the United States to stay “neutral in its relations with other nations” and to avoid “entangling alliances”.

  4. The XYZ Affair happened during the 2nd president’s term. John Adams sent a delegation to France to end the French seizing American ships. This almost brought the US and France to war due to the French reaction.

  5. Alien & Sedition Acts were laws that targeted immigrants making it more difficult to become citizens. The laws also prohibited public opposition of the national government. Occurred during John Adams’ presidency.

  6. States’ Rights is a theory that states had rights that the federal government could not violate and that states could nullify federal laws.

  7. Nullification is the idea of a state declaring a federal law illegal.

  8. Thomas Jefferson became the 3rd President of the United States and purchased the Louisiana territory, doubling the size of the United States.

  9. James Madison is considered to be the “Father of the Constitution”. He was also the 4th president and the War of 1812 occurred during his presidency.

  10. The War of 1812 was fought between the US and Britain. A main issue that led to war was impressment of American sailors.

  11. The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812. No one won and all land went back to the original owner.

  12. James Monroe, the 5th president, was the author of the Monroe Doctrine, which shut down the western hemisphere to European expansion or interference. In return, the US agreed to not interfere in European affairs.

  13. Marbury v. Madison was the 1803 Court decision that gave the Supreme Court the right to determine whether a law violates the Constitution. It set up the principle of judicial review.

  14. John Marshall was a staunch Federalist and the longest serving Chief Justice in Supreme Court history (1801-1835). He played a key role in the development of the American legal system.

  15. Judicial Review is the right of the Supreme Court to judge laws passed by Congress and determines whether they are constitutional or not.

  16. Andrew Jackson, 7th president, was the leader of the original Democratic Party and a “President of the people”. He was also responsible for the Trail of Tears, which forced Native Americans west of the Mississippi River.

  17. The south, led by John C. Calhoun, objected to the Tariff of Abomination (1828)> the South wanted to nullify the national law. This became known as the Nullification Crisis. A compromise of a lower tariff kept the US from civil war.


Manifest Destiny

  1. Manifest Destiny is the belief that the United States should own all of the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

  2. The Northwest Ordinance (under the Articles of Confederation) set an orderly way of the addition of new states to the United States.

  3. Texas was annexed in 1845 by the United States. This was one of the causes of war with Mexico.

  4. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ended the Mexican War. The US gained Mexican Cession.

  5. With the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico in 1853 the United States mainland reached its present size. It was bought for the building of a railroad.


Industrial Revolution and Reform Movements

  1. The Industrial Revolution was the era in which a change from household industries to factory production using powered machinery took place.

  2. Free Enterprise is the freedom of private businesses to operate competitively for profit with minimal government regulation.

  3. Capitalism an economic system based on private property and free enterprise.

  4. The Cotton Gin was an invention by Eli Whitney that sped up the cleaning of cotton fibers and in effect, increased the need for slaves.

  5. The successful use of the steamboat by Robert Fulton revolutionized transportation and trade in the United States.

  6. Invented by Eli Whitney interchangeable parts are uniform pieces that can be made in large quantities to replace other identical pieces. This invention greatly helped the growth of American industry.

  7. Bessemer steel process – the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass production of steel. It decreased the cost which allowed increase in steel production and work force.

  8. Mechanical Reaper increased farm productivity by allowing farmers to harvest grains faster than before.

  9. The Erie Canal liked New York to the west. It provided new resources and lands and well as helped make New York a main commercial city.

  10. The Temperance Movement was a campaign against the sale or drinking of alcohol.

  11. Frederick Douglass was a former slave who became the best-known black abolitionist in the country. He is known for being a great speaker.

  12. Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who became a Conductor on the Underground Railroad and helped over 300 slaves to freedom in the North.

  13. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the Seneca Falls Convention creating the Declaration of Sentiments and ultimately the Women’s Rights Movement in the United States.

  14. Susan B. Anthony helped to create the woman’s rights movement into a national organization.

  15. Sojourner Truth was an escaped slave who became a vocal member of the abolitionist movement as well as women’s rights.


Sectionalism and the Civil War

  1. Sectionalism is a strong sense of loyalty to a state or section instead of to the whole country.

  2. Harriet Beecher Stowe helped fuel the abolitionist movement in 1852 by writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The book shined a light on the horrors of slavery.

  3. Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) was the Supreme Court decision that said slaves were property and not citizens.

  4. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, in South Carolina.

  5. The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War for the North. Confederate troops were forced to retreat and never invaded the North again.

  6. The capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi by the North in 1863 effectively split the Confederacy in two and gave control of the Mississippi River to the Union.

  7. Appomattox Court House is the small town in Virginia where Lee surrendered the Confederate Army to Grant ending the Civil War.

  8. Antietam, Maryland was the bloodiest single day battle of the Civil War halting the first Confederate attack onto Northern soil. Lincoln declared the battle a victory and issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

  9. Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

  10. Ulysses S. Grant was the General of the Union Army and was responsible for winning the Civil War for the North.

  11. Robert E. Lee was the commanding General of the Confederate Army.

  12. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States who successfully put the Union back together only to be assassinated 5 days after the Civil War ended.

  13. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.

  14. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees citizenship and rights to all people born or naturalized in the United States.

  15. The Fifteenth Amendment guarantees the right to vote to all citizens regardless of race.


Revised 7-31-12



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