A century of Imperial War (1689-1763) The Rise of the Assemblies

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A Century of Imperial War (1689-1763)

The Rise of the Assemblies

  • in some respects, colonial governments resembled the British government: colonial governors paralleled the king; American councils (advisers to the governor) paralleled the House of Lords; and colonial assemblies (or legislatures) paralleled the House of Commons [Houses of Lords and Commons = Parliament]

  • despite the parallels, there were significant differences between the British and colonial systems

    • the British constitution was unwritten, while colonies possessed “charters” or written frameworks of government (and the U.S. Constitution would be written, too)

    • the British House of Commons (as well as Lords) consisted of the wealthy elite, who had little reason to be concerned with the needs of the lower classes, while the colonial assemblies also included (moderately) wealthy men, but they better represented the wishes of the people because…

    • the vast majority of white male Americans with even a small amount of land could vote, while as few as 20% of British adult males

  • by the 18th century, colonial assemblies believed they possessed a special obligation to protect colonial liberties – as war with France started demanding large public expenditures, the assemblies increased their vigilance and frequently challenged the royally-appointed colonial governors

  • colonial assemblies provided legislative experience for the men who would lead the soon-to-be United States – frequent communication between various colonial legislators helped create a unified cultural identity

New France

  • France, like England, was slow to establish colonies in the New World – early explorations focused on the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers

  • France’s goal was to dominate the fur trade of North America – access to waterways was vital to this enterprise

  • unlike English, French maintained good relations with the Indians who lived near the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes

    • French assisted the Hurons in fighting their traditional enemy, the Iroquois

    • French established trading posts to trade their goods to Indians for furs

    • because France had fewer colonists, they posed little threat to the Indians

Wars for Empire (1689 – 1763)

  • Britain and France/Spain engaged in four wars during the late 17th and early 18th centuries for control of a global empire – wars were fought in Europe, India, and North America/Caribbean – winner would dominate colonial trade

    • King William’s War (1689-1697) – Canadian raids on the western frontier exposed colonists to the threat posed by the French presence in Canada

    • Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713)

      • English gained Nova Scotia from France and trading rights in Spanish America

      • moreover, Treaty of Utrecht (1713) established 30 years of peace which allowed England to further “salutary neglect” with her American colonies

        • economic “salutary neglect” – eased Navigation Acts, permitted a little manufacturing

        • political “salutary neglect” – allowed greater self-government through colonial assemblies

    • King George’s War (1744-1748)

      • in GA, Oglethorpe led colonial army to repulse Spanish attacks (War of Jenkin’s Ear)

      • colonial New England force captured French fort at Louisbourg on St. Lawrence River, but British returned it in exchange for gains in India – New Englanders furious about loss of hard-won fort

French and Indian War (1754-1763) [or Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) in Europe]

  • origins of the war

    • first three imperial wars originated in Europe and only marginally spread to America, where they were primarily fought by colonial militias – French and Indian War started in America and involved larger numbers of European forces

    • French began erecting forts along Ohio Valley (esp. Fort Duquesne at strategic fork in Ohio River) to protect their claims and fur trade against encroaching British settlement

    • Virginia sent young George Washington to seize Fort Duquesne (near modern-day Pittsburgh) – initially successful, Washington was eventually forced to surrender – proved that one colony alone could not defeat French

    • early war went badly for British (Braddock’s defeat in 1755) – Indians often attacked frontier colonists

  • Albany Plan of Union (1754)

    • recognizing need for coordinated defense, Britain called for colonial representatives to meet at Albany, NY in 1754

    • Ben Franklin devised Albany Plan, which would have created an inter-colonial government that could recruit troops and collect taxes for common defense

    • jealous of their own authority to collect taxes, the colonies rejected the plan – the British government also rejected it for fear it would undermine their authority in the colonies

    • significance

      • set precedent for later inter-colonial congresses (i.e. Continental Congress) and formed basis of Articles of Confederation

      • but demonstrated the lack of desire for inter-colonial unity and power-sharing at this point

  • under new PM William Pitt, British shifted war goals to taking Canada – victories at Louisbourg, Quebec, and Montreal followed

  • Treaty of Paris (1763)

    • British received French Canada and Spanish Florida; French surrendered Louisiana to Spain as compensation

    • effects on colonists and on Anglo-American relations:

      • Britain became dominant power in North America

      • colonists were safer with French threat eliminated and Indian threat reduced

      • colonists grew confident in their ability to defend themselves, especially in “American” (guerilla) war tactics – some Americans (esp. Washington) gained valuable military experience

      • British were unhappy with colonial war efforts (quality of combat skills, commitment of militia, funding to support war)

      • British ended salutary neglect

        • began taxing colonies to make up large war debt

        • increased troops in colonies to enforce Navigation Acts

        • restricted colonial self-government and other rights

Pontiac’s Rebellion and the Proclamation of 1763

  • angered by encroachments on to their lands, Indians (mostly former French allies) led by Chief Pontiac organized in the Ohio Valley and launched a series of destructive raids on the frontier from NY to VA and west to (present-day) MI and OH

  • British responded by sending “regulars” (redcoats) to crush rebellion – Americans were angered at Britain’s inability to protect frontier settlements from Indian attacks (compare to Bacon’s Rebellion)

  • to stabilize frontier and prevent future outbreaks, Britain issued Proclamation of 1763, prohibiting colonists from settling west of Appalachians

    • colonists reacted with anger over new policy – felt that they should reap benefits of victory by gaining greater access to western lands

    • thousands defiantly streamed west over mountains

    • the Proclamation (and the colonists disapproval and defiance of it) marked the beginning of a series of events that would eventually lead to the American Revolution

The Road to Revolution

[See the green sheet, “The Road to Revolution”]

The American Revolution

Philosophical Foundations of the Revolution

  • the Enlightenment

    • 18th century movement in literature and philosophy believing “darkness” of past could corrected using human reason to solve problems

    • John Locke’s “social contract theory”

      • 17c English philosopher, authored Two Treatises on Government

        • sovereignty resides with the people who entrust government with power, however, government is obligated to protect natural rights (life, liberty, property) of its citizens

        • citizens have obligation to revolt if government fails to protect their rights

      • Locke’s emphasis on natural rights emphasized in Declaration of Independence and Constitution

  • other Enlightenment ideas

    • Deism – belief that God had established natural laws in the universe, but that divine intervention in human affairs was minimal

    • Enlightenment thinkers believed in rationalism, human reason, science, and respect for humanity

First Continental Congress (1774)

  • called after Britain instituted the Coercive (“Intolerable”) Acts and attended by all colonies except GA – purpose of 1CC was to determine how to react to the increasing threat to their liberties – little desire for independence yet

  • delegates were diverse, but did not include any Loyalist element

    • radical faction (those demanding most concessions from Britain) led by Patrick Henry (VA), Samuel and John Adams (MA)

    • moderates included George Washington (VA) and John Dickinson (PA)

    • conservative faction (those who favored a mild protest) led by John Jay (NY) and Joseph Galloway (PA)

  • actions of the Congress

    • Galloway’s Plan, which would have created union of colonies within British empire (similar to Albany Plan), was rejected by one vote

    • Suffolk Resolves – called for immediate repeal of Intolerable Acts and boycott of British goods

    • Declaration of Rights and Grievances – recognized Parliament’s right to regulate colonial commerce, but petitioned George III to restore colonial rights

    • The Association – urged creation of committees in every town to enforce boycotts

    • if colonial rights were not restored, a second congress would meet in May 1775

Second Continental Congress (1775)

  • fighting began in Spring, 1775

    • Lexington and Concord – British attempted to seize arsenal at Concord – colonial militia (Minutemen) assemble in show of defiance at Lexington – shots are fired killing 8 Americans – British endure heavy casualties on road to Concord

    • Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill) – Americans inflict heavy casualties on British despite losing hill near Boston

  • New England favored independence, but Middle and South hoped for resolution

  • military actions

    • called on colonies to provide troops

    • appointed Washington as commander-in-chief

    • authorized Benedict Arnold to raid Quebec to draw Canada away from British

    • navy and marine corps organized to attack British shipping

  • Olive Branch Petition

    • last attempt at peace – pledged loyalty to king but asked for his help in restoring peace with Parliament

    • George III rejected and instead agreed to Parliament’s Prohibitory Act which declared colonies in rebellion

Declaring Independence

  • Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776)

    • essay argued clearly and forcefully for American independence

      • why should a large continent be ruled by a small, distant island?

      • why remain loyal to a king whose government was corrupt and whose laws were unreasonable?

    • pamphlet became most widely published work in 18th century America

    • inspired many (including Washington, John Adams) to seek independence

    • Paine’s series of essays, The Crisis (1776-77), encouraged Americans during difficult early years of the war

These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot

will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now,

deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

  • The Declaration of Independence

    • June 7, 1776 – at 2CC, Richard Henry Lee (VA) introduced resolution calling for independence

    • Jefferson, Franklin, John Adams, others formed committee to draft a statement of independence – Jefferson chosen to write it – some revisions made

    • Declaration consisted of three main parts:

      • listing of basic principles justifying revolution (Locke’s social contract)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

      • listing of grievances with George III

      • declaration of independence

    • July 2, 1776 – 2CC approved Lee’s resolution

    • July 4, 1776 – 2CC adopted Jefferson’s draft

Taking Sides

  • Patriots

    • approximately 40% of America’s 2.6 million actively participated in the Revolutionary War – most were from New England and VA

    • most soldiers served in local militias for short periods, returning to farms periodically – thus, despite large numbers who served, Washington never had more than 20,000 at one time

    • Continental Army was always short of supplies, poorly trained, and rarely paid

  • Loyalists

    • approximately 20-30% of Americans were Loyalists (or Tories) who fought Patriots in an American “civil war” – in NY, NJ, and GA, they were probably the majority

    • most Loyalists were wealthy and conservative – crown officials and Anglicans were usually Loyalists

    • many lost property to Patriots during war – approximately 80,000 fled to Britain or Canada after war

  • African Americans

    • Washington initially opposed letting African Americans serve in army – British offered freedom to slaves who joined their cause and 2CC quickly offered same

    • approx. 5,000 served as Patriots (most were northern freemen) – many in mixed units

  • Native Americans

    • most Indians tried to stay out, but American attacks moved many to side with British

Treaty of Paris (1783)

  • After the defeat at Yorktown, and with the war growing unpopular and increasingly costly (more debt), Britain’s Tory party was voted out and the newly-elected Whig party sought peace

  • American negotiators: Ben Franklin, John Adams, John Jay

  • France and Spain sought a treaty that would be unfavorable to the Americans, so the Americans negotiated a separate peace with Britain

  • Terms of the Treaty of Paris (1783):

    • Britain recognized American independence and American western border was set at the Mississippi River; Americans were also granted fishing rights off the coast of Nova Scotia

    • Americans pledged to pay any outstanding debts to British, while Congress promised to urge states to restore Loyalists’ property in America

      • because Americans were slow to pay debts and restore Loyalist property, British were hesitant to leave American soil, especially on the western frontier – this contributed to a second war with Britain, the War of 1812

How “revolutionary” was the American Revolution?

  • republicanism and the abolition of aristocracy

    • Americans emerged from the Revolution with a near-universal belief in a “republican” political culture:

      • stressed liberty, equality, and inalienable rights as central values

      • believed the people, not a monarch or noble class, were the sovereign authority – rejected aristocracy

      • expected citizens to fulfill their civic duty and practice civic virtue (work for the betterment of society as a whole as opposed to their personal interests)

    • several states lowered property requirements for voting

    • most states abolished any ties between church and state, although the Congregational Church still received privileges in MA and NH

    • titles of nobility were banned

    • primogeniture (passing of parents’ property to first-born son) was outlawed

    • many criticized Washington and his officers for forming the Society of the Cincinnati – a social organization of Rev War officers in which membership passed to eldest sons

  • women

    • status of women in society did not change significantly as a result of Revolution

      • women were still prohibited from voting; were largely excluded from acquiring an education; and their roles as mothers, housewives went largely unchanged

      • this is despite the fact that many women during the war ran businesses, farms, and families in the absence of their husbands, provided supplies, served as nurses, and in a few rare instances, even fought in the war or served as spies

    • “republican motherhood”

      • term describes the emerging role of Revolutionary-era (1760s to 1800s) American women as mothers charged with the “special responsibility” of raising children – particularly sons – who would uphold the ideals of republicanism

      • for some women, this meant increasing educational opportunities as well

      • historians continue to debate whether “republican motherhood” indicated an increasing role for women in the male-dominated political sphere or if it simply reinforced women’s traditional role in the domestic sphere

  • African Americans

    • although many blacks served on both sides in the Revolution, neither black freedmen nor slaves received the same “liberties” that their white compatriots had won

      • some slave owners, however, freed their slaves who fought for the Patriot cause

      • by 1800, most every northern state had abolished slavery or put slavery on the path to abolition

    • one of the great ironies of the Revolution is best summarized by Dr. Samuel Johnson, a British author at the time of the war: “How is it that the loudest yelps for liberty come from the drivers of slaves?”

  • Some scholars have debated whether or not the American Revolution deserves the title revolution at all. The American colonies were already largely functioning as democracies with representative assemblies under the British system. There were very few obstacles to white, male suffrage before the war, and few changes to increase suffrage in the immediate aftermath. Furthermore, because social mobility (the ability to climb to a higher socio-economic status) was already open to most white males before the Revolution, there was very little class conflict in colonial America and, thus, little impetus to change the socio-economic order after the war. These scholars claim that the only truly revolutionary outcome of the American Revolution was to put an end to British control of the American colonies.

  • Other scholars would argue that it was necessary to first rid the colonies of British control in order to advance the principles of liberty, democracy, and equality at a later time. True, Americans did not immediately grant women suffrage or free the black slaves, but because America had won her independence she could now work to promote these other ideals.

The Articles of Confederation

New State Constitutions

  • during the war, both the states individually and the united states had to prepare for independence by writing new constitutions

  • each state revised or rewrote its own constitution

    • some states (CT – Fundamental Orders, RI) simply revised their colonial charters

    • most constitutions were written and adopted by their state legislatures (the former colonial assemblies)

    • some (MA) created new constitutions by calling a state constitutional convention and ratifying it by a vote of the people – this would be the model adopted for the US Constitutional Convention in 1787

  • common features of the state constitutions

    • each contained a bill of rights that the state government could not infringe upon

    • each separated powers between 3 branches of government – to avoid tyranny of a powerful executive

    • in most states, voting rights were limited to white, males, property-owners

    • each created a weak executive (governor) and judiciary and called for frequent election of the legislature

  • significance of the state constitutions

    • similarities between all 13 made it easier to agree on a federal constitution

    • constitutions were written documents, unlike the unwritten British constitution

    • state constitutions drew their power from the people, not the king or legislature

    • state constitutions represented a “fundamental law” – it was unchangeable by ordinary legislation

Articles of Confederation (1781-1789)

  • Articles were written and adopted by 2CC in 1776-77, but were not ratified by the 13th state (and thus did not go into effect) until 1781

    • ratification was held up by a dispute over the western lands (lands west of the Appalachians)

      • states with no claims to these lands (PA, MD) wanted it surrendered to the central government to be sold to pay off debts

      • states with claims (NY, VA, CT, MA) hoped to colonize western lands – when these states agreed to surrender their claims to help pay war debts of all states, Articles were finally ratified

  • Articles created a “loose union of states,” or a “league of friendship,” in which each state remained sovereign (independent) and was not subject to the national government

  • structure of the Articles government

    • unicameral congress in which each state had one vote (regardless of the size of its population)

    • approval by 9 of 13 states was required to pass a law

    • approval of all 13 states (unanimous) was required to amend the Articles

    • powers:

      • could wage war and make treaties with foreign nations, Indians

      • could send diplomats

      • could borrow money

    • weaknesses:

      • could not collect taxes but relied on taxes collected individually by each state

      • could not regulate foreign or interstate commerce (trade)

      • no real executive to enforce laws

      • no national judiciary

  • accomplishments of the Articles

    • oversaw the successful end of Revolutionary War, including Treaty of Paris (1783)

    • Land Ordinance of 1785

      • established policy for surveying and selling western lands

      • required one section of each square township to be set aside for public education

    • Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (for territory between Ohio Rv and Great Lakes – OH, IN, IL, MI, WI)

      • established rules for creating future new states out of this and other territories – not just expanding existing states or colonizing the territory

        • when population reached 60,000, territory could draft a state constitution and apply for statehood

      • outlawed slavery in the territory – established early precedent that slavery would not be permitted to extend into the territories

  • problems with the Articles

    • no power to tax created serious financial problems, leaving the war debts to soldiers, France unpaid

    • foreign nations did not respect the new, weak government

The Constitution

Have We Fought for This?

  • US government faced serious problems in the brief time between winning the war (1783) and creating a new constitution (1787)

    • foreign affairs

      • neither the states nor Congress could enforce the terms of the Treaty of Paris requiring debts to be repaid to Britain or property to be restored to Loyalists

      • weak government could not stop Britain from placing restrictions on trade or from maintaining military outposts on the frontier (western American territory)

    • economic crises

      • reduced trade and limited credit led to widespread economic depression

      • Congress could not levy taxes to pay off debts

      • each state printed its own worthless paper currency, which created inflation

      • the states themselves treated each other with suspicion and competed (rather than cooperated) economically – placed tariffs, other restrictions on other states

      • some states engaged in boundary disputes

  • Annapolis Convention (1786)

    • in 1785, Washington hosted representatives from 4 states at Mount Vernon to discuss problems – these men called for another meeting in which all states could attend

    • only 5 states, however, attended Annapolis Conference in 1786 – delegates discussed ways to improve commercial relations

    • Madison and Hamilton persuaded others to meet again in Philadelphia to revise Articles

  • Shays’ Rebellion (1786-87)

    • war veteran Daniels Shays (MA) led farmers in revolt against high taxes, imprisonment for debts, and lack of paper currency

    • rebellion succeeded in stopping tax collection and closing debtors’ courts

    • rebellion was put down months later when rebels attempted to seize weapons from arsenal

    • Shays’ Rebellion made apparent the need for a stronger central government that could put down domestic insurrections – its timing (following the meeting at Annapolis) intensified the call for a new constitution

The Constitutional Convention (1787)

  • Philadelphia (Constitutional) Convention (1787)

    • 12 states (RI did not attend) met “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”

    • 55 delegates – all white males; most college-educated; most in their forties; mostly wealthy; many were lawyers who had helped write state constitutions

    • prominent delegates:

      • George Washington (VA) – elected president (presiding officer) of the convention

      • Ben Franklin (PA) – at 81, oldest delegate; provided calming assurance

      • James Madison (VA) – his work and note-taking earned him the nickname, “Father of the Constitution”

      • Alexander Hamilton (NY), Gouverneur Morris (PA), John Dickinson (PA)

    • noticeable absences:

      • Thomas Jefferson (VA) and John Adams (MA) – both serving as ambassadors in Europe

      • revolutionary radicals: Samuel Adams; Thomas Paine; Patrick Henry (VA), who refused to attend for fear of expanded federal power – “I smell a rat”

    • two important decisions:

      • decision was made not to communicate with the public during the convention and to conduct meetings in secret – feared that outside pressures would hinder progress

      • decided to not simply revise, but to replace the Articles altogether

    • two major fears

      • strong central government

      • mass democracy (“mob rule”)

Key Issues and Compromises

  • representation in Congress

    • Virginia (Big States) Plan – called for representation based on population

    • New Jersey (Small States) Plan – called for equal representation, like under Articles

    • the “Great Compromise” (Connecticut Plan) – created a bicameral legislature

      • Senate – equal representation (two senators per state)

      • House of Representatives – representation proportionate to population

  • trade and commerce

    • federal government can regulate foreign and interstate commerce

    • federal government can tax imports (tariffs) – to protect New England manufacturing and to generate revenue

    • federal government cannot tax exports – to protect exporting South

  • president – modeled after George Washington

    • powers – commander-in-chief, can enforce laws, can veto laws

    • term – 4 years, can be re-elected indefinitely

    • Electoral College

      • president is elected by a group of electors from the several states – number of electors from each state equals state’s total representatives (House plus Senate) in Congress

      • president not chosen directly by the people

  • slavery

    • words “slave” and “slavery” not used in Constitution – slaves usually referred to as “other persons”

    • 3/5 Compromise – 3/5 of a state’s slave population would “count” in determining overall population for representation and taxation purposes

    • slave trade could not be abolished for 20 years (in 1808, Congress outlawed the slave trade)

    • fugitive slave clause – required states to return runaway slaves

The Struggle over Ratification

  • the Constitution would not go into effect until it was ratified (formally approved) by 9 of the 13 states – and even then, it would only be in effect in those states that ratified it

  • two groups emerged

    • Federalists supported ratification – most lived on coast and in cities

    • Antifederalists opposed ratification – most were small farmers and those on western frontier

  • The Federalist (Papers)

    • James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay wrote a series of essays in support of new Constitution

    • primarily to convince NY and VA to ratify

  • Bill of Rights

    • supporters thought a bill of rights necessary to protect liberties from the (now) stronger central government

    • opponents thought a bill of rights unnecessary because:

      • if Congress was to be made up of representatives of the people, why do the people need protection from ‘themselves’?

      • if they established a definitive ‘list of rights,’ it would invite the government to infringe on those rights not listed

  • ratification

    • DE, NJ, PA ratified early – NH was ninth to ratify, putting Constitution into effect

    • VA (with Anti’s Mason and Henry vs. Fed’s Washington and Madison) and NY (Hamilton) were key states

      • without them, nation would be split in three parts and missing two of the largest, wealthiest states

      • they eventually ratified

    • NC (1789), RI (1790) last to ratify

Washington’s Presidency: Domestic Affairs

The First President

  • in 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected by the electoral college (along with his re-election in 1792, GW is the only president to be unanimously elected)

  • GW’s primary task was to organize the executive branch – appoint chiefs of departments with Senate approval

  • GW frequently met with these men to discuss major policy issues, thus establishing a precedent for future presidents consulting with their cabinet

    • Secretary of State – Thomas Jefferson

    • Secretary of the Treasury – Alexander Hamilton

    • Secretary of War – Henry Knox

    • Attorney General – Edmund Randolph

Congressional Legislation

  • created Departments of State, War, and Treasury

  • made provisions for the first census in 1790

  • passed 12 proposed amendments to Constitution – 10 were ratified by the states in 1791 and became Bill of Rights; one was not ratified until 1992, when it became 27th Amendment

  • Judiciary Act of 1789

    • only federal court mentioned in Constitution is Supreme Court – Congress was given power to create lower federal courts and determine number of justices on Supreme Court

    • Judiciary Act established Supreme Court with a chief justice and five associate justices

    • gave Supreme Court the authority to rule on the constitutionality of state court decisions

    • created 13 district courts and 3 circuit courts of appeal

  • Naturalization Act (1790) – established the rules by which an immigrant could become a US citizen

    • restricted citizenship to “free white persons” of “good moral character”

    • granted full citizenship to Catholics and Jews (before Britain or France did)

    • racial restrictions remained in place until 1870 for Africans and 1952 for most Asians

  • Congress passed other laws in accordance with Alexander Hamilton’s financial program – Hamilton Tariff (1789), First Bank of the United States (1791), and Whiskey Act (1791)

Hamilton’s Financial Program

  • one of the biggest problems facing the nation under the Articles was its financial woes

  • Treasury Secretary Hamilton proposed a plan to Congress to stabilize nation’s finances:

    • pay off the national debt (foreign loans, soldiers’ pay certificates) at face value

    • assume the debts of the states (assumption plan)

    • offer federal subsidies (money) to nation’s nascent manufacturing and industry

    • impose high tariffs to protect the nation’s industry and to bring in needed revenue (revenue could fund the aforementioned subsidies)

    • create a federally-chartered private bank (Bank of the US) for depositing government funds and printing notes to create a stable currency

  • support came primarily from northern merchants who would benefit most from high tariffs and stable currency

  • opposition came from many groups:

    • Anti-Federalists who feared the strength of federal government

    • Jefferson who thought it benefited the rich at the expense of the poor farmer

    • Madison who sympathized with soldiers who had already sold their worthless certificates to speculators at a far lower price than face value

    • many states (mostly southern) who had already paid their debts and would not benefit

  • Congress eventually passed the plan with minor revisions

    • in exchange for paying debt at face value and assuming states’ debts (which Jefferson opposed), a new national capital would be built on Potomac River in Virginia (Washington, DC)

    • tariff rate would be lower than Hamilton wanted, but Congress would levy an excise tax on specific items (such as whiskey)

    • with GW’s support, Bank of the US would be established – Bank would be privately-owned but US government would be primary shareholder

      • Jefferson opposed bank on constitutional grounds – argued that Constitution did not give Congress the power to create a national bank (strict construction)

      • Hamilton argued that Congress’ power to tax and regulate commerce, as well as the “necessary and proper” clause, gave Congress the right to stretch its powers (loose construction)

  • these issues and others divided the nation (as well as GW’s cabinet, especially TJ and AH) – issues became the seeds of America’s first political parties (Federalists and Democratic-Republicans) which were already developing

The Whiskey Rebellion (1794)

  • western PA farmers (poor and in debt) refused to pay the federal excise tax on whiskey (which they distilled from the corn they grew) – rather than pay the tax, they attacked tax collectors

  • the “rebellion” posed a threat to the new federal government’s power (like Shays’ Rebellion threatened the Articles) – GW sent Hamilton and 15,000 troops to put down rebellion – rebellion collapsed without bloodshed

  • results and impact:

    • Jefferson criticized the Federalists for this attack on farmers (the “common man”) and he soon became the champion of the western farmer (under Jefferson, Congress later repealed the whiskey tax in 1803)

    • Jefferson’s emerging political party, the “Jeffersonians” or Democratic-Republicans, won seats in Congress starting in 1794

    • in its first test with a domestic insurrection, the new federal government (under the Constitution) demonstrated its power and authority to intervene in a state matter

Washington’s Presidency: Foreign Affairs

The French Revolution

  • GW’s presidency coincided with the French Revolution and it dominated his foreign policy

    • Americans generally supported the Revolution and the idea of a French republic, but were concerned by the violence of it; but…

    • during the American Revolution, the US won its independence due, in large part, to the support of the French monarchy (Louis XVI) – so did the US owe the displaced monarchy its support during the French Revolution?

  • Jeffersonians sympathized with the French revolutionaries, especially when Britain began seizing US ships bound for France after France declared war on Britain in 1793

  • Citizen Genet Affair

    • new French foreign minister to the US, Edmond Genet, appealed directly to American merchants (many of whom supported the French) to aid France by seizing British ships

    • GW asked France to recall Genet – Jefferson, embarrassed by the Frenchman’s breach of diplomatic protocol, agreed he should be recalled

    • after being recalled, Genet (who feared for his life if he returned home) stayed in US and became a citizen

  • Proclamation of Neutrality (1793)

    • GW believed the best course for the young (and still relatively weak) US was to declare neutrality rather than enter the war between Britain and France

    • in protest of the Neutrality Proclamation, Jefferson resigned from Cabinet

Jay’s Treaty (1794) and Pinckney’s Treaty (1795)

  • Jay’s Treaty

    • GW sent SupCt CJ John Jay to negotiate and end to British practices of search & seizure of American ships and impressment of sailors into British navy

    • treaty provisions:

      • British pledged to evacuate the western forts

      • but treaty did not resolve the issue of the impressments (main issue)

    • treaty narrowly passed Senate and angered many Americans, especially pro-French Republicans

    • in retrospect, the treaty helped maintain GW’s neutrality policy and kept US at peace during critical early years

  • Pinckney’s Treaty (1795) [or Treaty of San Lorenzo]

    • Jay’s Treaty unexpectedly caused Spain to fear a potential Anglo-American alliance in North America

    • treaty provisions:

      • Spain (which held Louisiana since 1783) agreed to open the Mississippi River and the port at New Orleans to American trade w/o charging duties

      • Spain agreed that (Spanish) Florida’s northern border was the 31st parallel (not north of that line as Spain had previously claimed)

Native Americans

  • as Americans continued to settle in the Ohio Valley, the British (who remained in western forts and in Canada) supplied Indians with arms and encouraged them to attack the American frontier

  • Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794) – US Army under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne defeated Indians under Shawnee chief Blue Jacket in NW Ohio

  • Treaty of Greenville (1795) – various Indian chiefs representing several tribes surrendered much of the Ohio Territory to US

    • some Indian leaders refused to honor the treaty – in early 1800s, Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, began to organize pan-tribal resistance to the encroaching settlers

Washington’s Farewell Address (1796)

  • after two terms, GW announced his intention to retire

    • by retiring, GW guaranteed he would not die in office and be president “for life”

    • his precedent of voluntarily retiring after two terms was followed by all presidents until FDR was elected to four terms – two-term limit was made law by 22nd Amend. (1951)

  • with Hamilton’s help, he published a “farewell address” which was printed in newspapers

    • warned nation not to get involved in foreign affairs (French Rev) or get entangled in “permanent alliances”

    • warned nation not to form political parties and to avoid sectionalism – but parties were already forming

America’s First Political Party System





  • Alexander Hamilton

  • John Adams

  • Thomas Jefferson

  • James Madison

Who Should Govern

  • felt rich and educated should govern

  • thought the common people acted foolishly and too passionately

  • wanted strict voting qualifications

  • trusted the “common man”

  • distrusted the rich and privileged

  • wanted fewer voting restrictions

Interpretation of

the Constitution

  • “loose” interpretation – favored the expansion of federal power and a strong central government

  • “strict” interpretation – favored limiting the power of the federal government and stronger state governments

Foreign Policy

  • pro-British

  • supported Jay’s Treaty

  • pro-French

  • opposed Jay’s Treaty

Response to the French Revolution

  • wished to maintain neutrality and not get involved in the French Revolution which was growing increasingly violent

  • supported the revolutionary movement and felt America was obligated to give aid and support to those seeking liberty

Military Policy

  • advocated maintaining a large peacetime army and navy to deter foreign attack

  • feared that a strong military could be use to oppress the people, and thus, advocated a small peacetime army and navy

Economic Policy

  • promoted an industrial economy and advocated government support for manufacturing, commerce, and business

  • wanted to use the national debt to establish credit

  • promoted an agrarian economy and opposed any government aid to business

  • wanted to reduce/eliminate the national debt

National Bank

  • established a national bank to aid in economic growth

  • opposed the establishment of a national bank

  • considered the bank an unconstitutional expansion of government power

  • viewed it as a tool of the rich

Tariffs and Taxes

  • supported lower tariffs

  • opposed internal (excise) taxes that were detrimental to farmers and debtors


  • New England, Atlantic coast

  • bankers, manufacturers, merchants, professionals, wealthy farmers

  • South, West, frontiers

  • farmers, frontier settlers, artisans, shopkeepers

John Adams’ Presidency

Election of 1796

  • 1796 was first “real” presidential election – first to be contested (GW was unanimous) and first to feature rival parties

  • candidates:

    • Federalists – VP John Adams (71 EV)

    • Dem-Reps – former Secy of State Thomas Jefferson (68 EV)

  • attempts by Hamilton to deny Adams the presidency in favor of another Federalist, Thomas Pinckney, backfired and resulted in giving the vice presidency to Republican rival Jefferson

    • Adams’ presidency was plagued by his rivalry with Hamilton, who assumed leadership of the Federalists – Hamilton’s supporters were known as “High Federalists”

Undeclared Naval War (Quasi-War) with France

  • during GW’s presidency, the French Revolution escalated into a war between Revolutionary France and numerous European powers (including Britain); and by Adams’ presidency, between Napoleonic France and the Europeans

  • XYZ Affair (1797)

    • Franco-American relations steadily declined during Adams’ term

      • France was already angered by the terms of Jay’s Treaty, which they viewed as pro-British

      • in 1797, French privateers began seizing American ships – some Federalists (including Hamilton) demanded war with France (see Quasi-War below)

    • hoping to preserve neutrality and avoid war, Adams sent a peace delegation to France

    • 3 French agents (known publicly as X, Y, and Z) demanded bribes and an apology (for critical comments Adams made about French Revolution) before the delegation could meet with French foreign minister Talleyrand – the Americans refused and came home

    • the clamor for war with France intensified – a slogan developed advocating “millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute”

  • Quasi-War (1798-1800)

    • US and French warships and merchant ships battled in undeclared war in the Caribbean and off US coast

    • Adams resisted the call for formal war, but built up the navy and raised a new army just in case

      • High Federalists used Quasi-War and XYZ Affair as excuse to mobilize army; however, their true aim appeared to be to suppress Republican opposition

    • Convention of 1800 (Treaty of Mortefontaine)

      • Adams broke with the High Federalists and sent new diplomats to France who were able to negotiate an end to the crisis with Napoleon’s new government

      • as a result of the French crisis, American affections for France diminished; but Adams’ negotiated settlement smoothed Franco-American relations making Louisiana Purchase (1803) possible

Alien and Sedition Acts

  • anti-French sentiment gave the Federalists big congressional victories in 1798 – Federalists looked to solidify their hold on power by enacting the Alien and Sedition Acts, laws that would restrict their opposition (Dem-Reps)

  • Adams begrudgingly signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law

    • Alien Enemies Act and Alien Act – authorized the president to deport any aliens considered dangerous and to detain enemy aliens in time of war

    • Naturalization Act – increased from 5 to 14 the number of years required for immigrants to qualify for citizenship – most immigrants (especially recent Irish immigrants) tended to vote Dem-Rep

    • Sedition Act – made it illegal to criticize the president or Congress and was punishable with fines or prison

      • clearly a violation of First Amendment’s protection of free speech, but courts (at this point in time) lacked power to strike down the law (a power known as “judicial review”)

  • Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (1799)

    • Dem-Reps challenged A&SA by passing “nullification” laws in the state legislatures

      • KY’s was written by Jefferson and VA’s by Madison

    • doctrine of nullification (or “compact theory”)

      • since the states had entered into a “compact” in forming the federal government, if any act of the federal government violated the compact, the states were justified in nullifying (voiding) it

      • this states’ rights theory would remain popular in the South and would resurface in the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s and in the secession movement prior to the Civil War

  • the immediate crisis over the A&SA and nullification faded quickly for two reasons:

    • the Federalists lost their majorities in Congress (as well as the presidency) in the elections of 1800 and Dem-Reps allowed acts to expire or repealed them

    • the Supreme Court (under John Marshall) declared its power to declare federal laws unconstitutional (power of judicial review) in Marbury v. Madison (1803), thus trumping the states’ argument for nullification power

Unit 2: Birth of a Nation 4 September 2012

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