Unit 1: Pre-Columbus Americas through John Adams’ Administration America and Europe on the Eve of Discovery The Americas on the Eve of Discovery



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European Rivals- The Spanish and English were not the only countries colonizing the new world. The French, too, were building an empire in North America, one that spanned from Nova Scotia in the northeast to the Rocky Mountains in the northwest and Louisiana in the south. The French and English were also longtime rivals in Europe and on the seas, fighting three inconclusive wars during the first half of the 18th century. After six relatively peaceful years between the two adversaries, war erupted again in Europe. This war would spill into their North American colonies, as the two empires fought for control of the interior of the continent.

  • One area of contention was the Ohio River valley, west of Pennsylvania and Virginia.

    • The French built Fort Duquesne in this region, despite the fact that the Virginia governor had already granted the land to a group of wealthy planters

    • In response to the building of the fort, the Virginia governor sent militia to evict the French


George Washington Ignites the War with France

  • 1754: The leader of the militia sent to evict the French was a 22 year old Virginia officer named George Washington

    • After a brief volley of shots between Washington’s militia and a French detachment of troops, French reinforcements routed Washington and his men, allowing them to return to Virginia in defeat. The war in North America was officially ON!


Timeline of Important Events of the War

  • 1754: The Albany Congress

    • Britain summoned an intercolonial congress to Albany, New York.

      • Immediate purpose: keep the Iroquois tribes loyal to the British.

      • Longer-term purpose: promote greater colonial unity, bolstering the common defense against the French and their Indian allies.

        • Benjamin Franklin had his “Join or Die” snake published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, in hopes of breaking down the distrust between the colonies.

        • Franklin also proposed a scheme for a measure of home-rule for the colonies.

    • While the congress unanimously adopted the plan, the individual colonies rejected it, as did Parliament.

  • 1755: A series of embarrassing defeats for the British

    • General Braddock, George Washington, and 1500 soldiers were sent to take Ft. Duquesne.

      • They were ambushed by the French and their Indian allies

        • Washington had two horses shot from underneath him and four bullets pierced his coat.

        • Braddock was mortally wounded

  • 1756: British Counterattack in Canada…and Fail

    • The British unwisely attacked Canada, striking a number of wilderness forts instead of throwing their strength at Quebec and Montreal

      • Defeat after defeat tarnished the British army in the eyes of many colonists

  • 1757: William Pitt takes the Reins

    • William Pitt became a top leader in Parliament and decided on a two prong strategy for victory

      • Concentrate on the vital Quebec-Montreal area

      • Find new, energetic leaders

  • 1758: The British Gain some Wins

    • A powerful British force captured the fort at Louisbourg after a blistering siege

      • This was the first significant victory for the British in the war

  • 1759: The Battle of Quebec

    • After a daring scaling of the cliffs surrounding Quebec, James Wolfe and his men defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham outside the city.

  • 1760: Montreal falls, effectively ending the fighting

  • 1763: The Treaty of Paris ends the war

    • Provisions of the Treaty

      • Britain gains control of all of French-held North America east of the Mississippi River

      • France was allowed to keep a few islands in the West Indies, but ceded its trans-Mississippi Louisiana to Spain


1763: Aftermath of the War

  • Pontiacs Uprising

    • Alarmed by the loss of their French ally as well as the growing numbers of British colonists crossing the Appalachian Mountains, the Ottawa Indian leader, Pontiac, led several tribes in a violent campaign to drive the British out of the Ohio valley.

      • All but 3 British forts on the frontier fell, and more than 2,000 soldiers and settlers were killed.

      • The British eventually put down the uprising, partially through crude biological warfare, distributing smallpox infected blankets among the Indians.

        • ***Pontiac’s uprising convinced the British of the need to stabilize relations with the Indians and to keep British troops stationed along frontier.

        • Paying for the war and its aftermath would be the next battle for the British.




  • The Proclamation of 1763

    • To avoid further conflicts until the peace could be made with the Indians, the British government established a Proclamation Line along the Appalachians, and flatly prohibited colonists from crossing it.

      • ***The British misjudged the extent of colonial opposition to their expansion

        • Eager to claim the newly acquired territory, colonists ignored the Proclamation and swept across the mountains.

  • New Problems for the British

    • Huge growth of British colonial possessions to protect

    • Massive debt incurred during the war

    • ***How would the British pay for this? TAXES!!!***


Revolution and the Early Republic
Colonial Resistance and Rebellion
The Colonies Resist British Policy- Strapped with £140 million in debt, England had to raise revenue to pay for its war and protection of its North American empire. This tightening of British policy would be met by a variety of protests from the colonists, and ultimately result in outright rebellion.
Timeline to Rebellion

  • 1764: The Sugar Act- The first law passed by Parliament for raising tax revenue in the colonies to support the crown. Among several taxes, it raised the duty on foreign sugar from the West Indies.

    • Colonial Reaction:

      • Colonists protested bitterly because they had not elected representatives to Parliament, claiming it had no right to tax them.

      • Merchants complained that the act would reduce their profits.

    • Parliament Response:

      • After the bitter complaints by colonists, the taxes were substantially lowered




  • 1765-66: The first contentious act of Parliament was the passage of the Quartering Act, which required certain colonies to provide food and quarters for British troops. Then, Prime Minister Grenville instituted the Stamp Act, a tax on documents and printed items such as wills, newspapers, and playing cards.

    • Colonial Reaction

      • The colonists, led by the fiery Samuel Adams, organized resistance groups like the Sons of Liberty

      • They cried out “no taxation without representation”

      • The Stamp Act Congress, a group of 27 delegates from nine of the colonies, drew up a statement of rights and grievances, asking for the repeal of the Stamp Act

      • The most effective response, however, was the nonimportation agreements, which organized boycotts of British goods by merchants in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia

        • This was step toward colonial unity, as the colonists united in common action

    • Parliament Response:

      • Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766, but passed the Declaratory Act which claimed Parliament has the full right to pass binding legislation on the colonies




  • 1767: After taking control of the British ministry, Charles Townshend convinced Parliament to pass the Townshend Acts, which taxed goods imported from Britain such as lead, glass, paint, paper…and TEA! Townshend believed the taxes on imported goods would not affect the colonists, as they were paid at the port.

    • Colonial Reaction:

      • Colonists again cried “No taxation without representation!”

      • John Dickenson, in his Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer, argued that, “Acceptance of any tax would establish precedent for more!”

      • Colonists also revived nonimportation agreements and boycotts

    • Parliament Response:

      • Suspended New York’s legislature for violating the Quartering Act

      • Sent two regiments of troops to Boston in 1768




  • 1770-72: On the night of March 5, 1770, taunted by angry colonists, British troops fired on the mob, killing 5 and wounding 6 others. This event would become known as the Boston Massacre.

    • Colonial Reaction:

      • Colonists, like Paul Revere, sensationalized the event to take advantage of the heightened tensions

    • Parliament Response:

      • Now led by Lord North, Parliament repealed the Townshend duties…except for the tax on TEA.

      • The British also strengthened it efforts to enforce its Navigation Laws against the colonists.

    • Colonial Reaction:

      • Samuel Adams started the first committees of correspondence in Massachusetts in 1772, in order to spread the spirit of resistance by exchanging letters with other colonial assemblies

        • Within a short time, every colony had established committees of correspondence




  • 1773-74: The Tea Act…and a Party! Parliament passed the Tea Act, giving the British East India Co. a monopoly on the sale of tea in the colonies, and without the need to pay the tax. This actually made the tea cheaper! But it also cut colonial merchants out of the tea trade.

    • Colonial Reaction:

      • In Philadelphia and New York, protests forced British East India ships full of tea to return to England with cargos still full

      • At Annapolis, Maryland, a ship and its cargo were burnt by colonial protestors

      • On Dec 16, Sam Adams and 100 Bostonians broke open 342 chests of tea and dumped the contents into Boston Harbor. This became known as the Boston Tea Party.

    • Parliament Response:

      • In 1774, enraged King George III induced Parliament to pass a series of measures known as the Coercive Acts, or what the colonists called the Intolerable Acts

        • Shut down Boston Harbor and placed Boston under martial law

        • A new Quartering Act gave British authorities the power to house soldiers anywhere, even in private homes

        • Placed General Thomas Gage as governor of Massachusetts and put restrictions on town meetings

    • Colonial Reaction:

      • Committees of correspondence assembled the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia in September of 1774.

        • Sought redress of grievances to avoid revolution

        • Drew up a declaration of colonial rights

        • Created The Association, which called for a complete boycott of British goods: nonimportation, nonexportation, and nonconsumption



The Road To Revolution
From Words to Weapons- Following the meeting of the First Continental Congress, colonists in many New England towns began to prepare their militia. Minutemen openly drilled while rifles, gunpowder, and ammunition were quietly stockpiled. In response, General Gage ordered British redcoats to march from Boston to Concord, Massachusetts to seize the illegal weapons.
Timeline of the American Revolution

  • April 19, 1775- Massachuesetts: “The shots heard ‘round the world”

    • 1st shots fired at Lexington, followed by guerilla attacks on British troops marching back from Concord

  • May 1775: Meeting of the Second Continental Congress

    • Drafted new appeals to the British people and the King....which were ignored

    • Adopted measures to raise money

    • Recognized the militia as the Continental Army and appointed George Washington as Commander.

  • June 1775: Battle of Bunker (Breed’s) Hill

    • Deadliest battle of the war: 450 colonists and over 1,000 British casualties, but the redcoats took the hill.

  • July 1775: Second Continental Congress sends the “Olive Branch Petition” to King George III

    • Professed colonial loyalty to the Crown and asked the King to stop further hostility

      • George flatly rejected, declaring the colonies were in open rebellion.

      • “I find Common Sense is working a powerful change in the minds of many men” –George Washington, April 1776

  • 1776: The Year of Independence

    • Ben Franklin’s Join, or Die snake

      • Reprinted during the revolutionary war to promote unity against British tyranny

    • January: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was published

      • Blamed the King for the problems in the colonies and urged the colonists to declare independence

    • July 4, 1776: Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress

    • ***Both documents leaned heavily on enlightenment thinkers like Locke and Rousseau, especially on the ideas of natural rights and the rights of the people to overthrow the government that fails to protect natural rights.

    • Dec 25, 1776: George Washington’s attack on Trenton, New Jersey

      • Defeated a garrison of Hessians (German soldiers hired by the British)

      • This is Washington at his best

  • Oct. 1777- Saratoga

    • Gen. Burgoyne (Britain) is forced to surrender

    • ***This victory for the Americans, along with Ben Franklin’s diplomacy in Paris, convinced France to openly ally itself with the Americans.

      • Marquis de Lafayette, a French military leader, agreed to help train the Continental Army as well as lobbied successfully for French reinforcements in 1779

      • WE DON’T WIN THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT FRENCH HELP!!!

  • 1778- Winter at Valley Forge (1777-’78)

    • With thousands sick, freezing, and starving to death, Washington keeps his army together with his leadership

    • Baron von Steuben helps train the Continental Army

  • 1780-81

    • Victories at King Mountain and Cowpens, and the whole Carolina campaign exhaust Cornwallis of men and supplies

  • October 19, 1781- Yorktown

    • Trapped by Washington and LaFayette’s men by land, and a French blockade at sea, British Gen. General Cornwallis is forced to surrender

    • The war is effectively over

  • 1783- Treaty of Paris

    • Britain formally recognized the independence of the United States

    • Set boundaries of the new nation: to the Mississippi in the west, to the Great Lakes in the north, and to Spanish Florida in the south


Drafting our First Government
The Articles of Confederation

  • Work on a written constitution started in 1776

  • The finished Articles of Confederation were adopted by Congress in 1777

  • Not ratified by all 13 states until March 1781- Why not?

    • Distrust over control of Western lands (west of the Allegheny’s)

    • Maryland was last state to ratify

    • Congress pledged to sell land for “common good” – create new states


The Government Under the Articles of Confederation

  • Each state gets 1 vote

  • Power divided between states & national gov. (States have more power)

  • National government’s powers


Successes of Articles of Confederation

Weaknesses of Articles of Confederation

Land Ordinance of 1785- plan for surveying and selling land of the “Old Northwest” in order to pay off national debt

  • Largest revenue source for the national gov.

Northwest Ordinance of 1787- procedure for dividing into 3-5 states and set requirements for admission of new states

  • No executive branch to enforce laws

  • 9/13 states to pass important laws

  • No national court system

  • Congress could not enact and collect taxes

  • *Congress unable to establish unrestricted free trade, hurting many merchants


Shays’ Rebellion (1786-87)- uprising of farmers, frustrated by tax policies, debtors prisons, and the feeling that Massachusetts gov. favored eastern bankers and elite.

  • Led by Daniel Shays, 1200 farmers shut down courts, tried to take the arsenal at Springfield, Mass.

  • Mass. Gov. appealed to the national gov. for help, but it was powerless to do anything in the states

  • State officials, eastern bankers built an army, put down rebellion

  • *Revealed the inability of the weak central gov. to maintain order

  • *The revolt persuaded 12 of 13 states to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in May, 1787 (Rhode Island held out)


Constitutional Convention- Summer, 1787

Question: How to strengthen the national government under the Articles of Confederation?



Answer: Scrap the Articles and write an entirely NEW constitution
Key Conflicts

1. Large states vs. Small states- How will representation in Congress be determined?

  • Virginia Plan: Bicameral (two-house) legislature, representation based on population

  • New Jersey Plan: Unicameral (one-house) legislature, equal representation per state

  • *The GREAT Compromise: Bicameral legislature;

    • House of Representatives (lower house)- representation based on population

    • Senate (upper house)- equal representation, 2 per state


2. North vs. South- the question of slaves and how they will count for representation and tax purposes

  • North: Slaves SHOULD NOT be counted for congressional representation, but SHOULD BE counted for levying taxes

  • South: Slaves SHOULD BE counted for representation, but SHOULD NOT be counted for levying taxes

  • The Three-fifths Compromise: each state’s slave counted as 3/5 of a person for representation


3. Strong Central Gov. vs. Strong States- fear of a national government with too much power versus the problems created by the Articles of Confederation

  • Federalism- power is divided between national government and state governments



Federal Gov.- Enumerated Powers

State gov.- Reserved Powers

  • Regulate interstate commerce

  • Coin money

  • Establish post office

  • Regulate intrastate (within the state) commerce

  • Education

  • Police power

Shared Powers

  • Establish and collect taxes

  • Setting up courts

  • Enforcing laws

  • Building roads


Separation of Powers- limiting the powers of the Federal government and dividing them into three branches

  • Legislative- Writes laws

  • Executive- Enforces laws

  • Judicial- Settles disputes regarding Federal laws

  • ***“Let Congress legislate. Let others execute. Let others judge.”- John Jay***


Legislative Branch (Article I)- Congress writes laws

  • House of Representatives (lower house)- representation based on population of state

  • Senate (upper house)- equal representation, 2 per state

  • Powers include: taxation, credit, coin money, post office, declare war, impeachment, raise army & regulated armed forces; advise and consent to presidential appointments

    • *Elastic Clause- gives Congress power to make all laws “necessary and proper” to execute its powers


Executive Branch (Article II)- The President and his cabinet departments carry out laws

***The President is chosen by the Electoral College- The Founding Fathers distrusted direct democracy and feared the uneducated masses.



  • Powers: Commander-in-chief of the armed forces; makes treaties (with advise and consent of congress); nominate to cabinet and court vacancies (w/ advise and consent of Congress); pass or veto bills

Judicial Branch (Article III)- The Supreme Court, federal courts, and district courts

Powers: Try cases regarding law of the Federal gov. including cases regarding treaties, involving ambassadors, and controversies between two or more states
Checks and Balances- safeguards to ensure that no one branch of government has too much power.
c:\users\prodrigues\pictures\checks and balances.gif
Enumerated/Delgated Powers: powers specifically given to the federal government in the Constitution
Reserved Powers: powers not given to the federal government are reserved for the states
Implied Powers: powers not denied to the federal government

ex. The “Elastic Clause”


Interpreting the Constitution
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