United States History And Government

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U.S. Political and Social History



The American




  • Salutary neglect

  • Proclamation of 1763

  • Mercantilism

  • Stamp Act, Tea Act, Intolerable Acts


  • US broke away from the British Empire

  • Established a government based on Enlightenment ideals

  • States entered into a tenuous union as the United States of America

The Constitutional Convention and Bill of Rights



  • The Great Compromise (aka the Connecticut Plan) - bicameral legislature

  • Three- Fifth’s - Slaves counted as 3/5 of a person when determining population

  • Commerce and Slave Trade - Granted Congress the power to regulate foreign and interstate trade but was forbidden to tax a state’s exports or take action against the slave trade for 20 years

  • Constitution was based on Enlightenment ideals

Westward Expansion (1804-1848)

  • Manifest Destiny – the conviction that the US had a divine mission to expand in order to spread the ideals of freedom and democracy

Lands Acquired

  • Louisiana (purchased from France for $15 million)

  • Florida (acquired via the Adams-Onis Treaty with Spain)

  • Texas and parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, and Kansas from Mexico

  • Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming from Great Britain

  • California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona along with parts of New Mexico after the Mexican War

  • Gadsden Purchase (bought parts of Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico)

The Civil War


  • South felt that the North had infringed on states’ rights more than the constitution allowed, by considering the abolition of slavery

  • Through the Northwest Ordinance and the Missouri Compromise, Northerners felt that congress had the right to ban slavery in new territories

  • The Secession Crisis ignites the war

  • Lincolns aims change as the war progress from simple preserving the Union to also

include emancipation



  • Lincoln s Plan included very limited conditions in order to rejoin the Union

  • Johnson is impeached after angering the Radical Republicans in Congress

  • Radical Reconstruction is much harsher than Lincoln or Johnson would have liked

  • The punitive measures taken leas to continued animosity between the North and the South


  • Northern states are the focus for industrialization due to their abundant supplies of iron, coal, and swiftly flowing rivers used for water power

  • The Transportation Revolution (roads, canals, railroads, and the use of steam power) connects northern markets to western farmlands

  • Urban problems arise and are documented by Muckrakers like Jacob Riis

  • Increases in immigration are caused by the many job opportunities available, primarily in northern factories and western farms

  • More people "go west and forced expulsions of Native Americans become routine

Grangers and Populists


  • The Grange began as a social organization but turned political in response to the abuses carried out by railroad companies against farmers

  • Farmers founded the Populist Party in 1891 to promote a graduated income tax, direct elections of senators, and government ownership of railroads, telegraphs, and telephones

    • William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech during the election of 1896

The Progressive Era


    • Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson

    • Changing role of government in business and politics

    • Trust-busting, the Square Deal, Dollar Diplomacy, Meat Inspection Act, Pure Food and Drug Act, National Parks, and child labor laws

  • Amendments 16 and 17 (federal income tax and direct election of senators)

The Roaring Twenties


    • Stock market speculation

    • Mass consumption of manufactured goods

    • New industries (automobiles, electrical, radio, and motion pictures)

  • Harlem Renaissance (i.e. W.E.B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes)

  • Xenophobia and restrictions on immigrations - Red Scare, Sacco and Vanzetti, Ku Klux Klan, and quotas

Depression, the New Deal, and World War II


  • Crash on Black Tuesday (10/29/29) caused by problems in agriculture, speculation buying, weak bank structure, and an overall weak international economy

    • FDRs New Deal

    • Rise of fascism in Europe leads to WWII and takes the US out of the Great Depression

Civil Rights



    • Civil disobedience

  • Led in part by the following figures by Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael

  • Formation of various Civil Rights organizations (NAACP, SCLC, SNCC, and later the Black Panthers)

    • Greensboro lunch counter, Letters from a Birmingham Jail, March on Washington

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

The 1960s: A Decade of Change

    • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    • Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • Medicaid, Medicare, and Voting Rights Act passed

The Presidency in Crisis


    • Vietnam causes a crisis of confidence in the American government

    • Pentagon Papers

    • Nixon’s illegal bombing of Cambodia

    • Election of Carter

  • Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

U.S. Economic History



Hamilton s National Economy

  • Hamilton pushes through the creation of a National Bank

  • Absorption of states debts

  • Several national banks are formed

Industrial Revolution

  • Transportation Revolution

  • Expansion of westward migration

  • Brings in “New Immigrants”

  • Populist movement

  • Progressives

  • Imperialism

Abolition Of Slavery

  • Emancipation Proclamation

  • Civil War

  • 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments

  • Center- piece of the southern economy is destroyed

  • New South forms (push toward industrialization)

  • Jim Crow laws

  • Radical reconstruction

  • Impeachment of Johnson

The Transcontinental Railroad

  • Connects industrial East with the agricultural West

  • Allows for continued migration to the West

  • Irish (east) and Chinese (west) labor

Business Consolidation in the Gilded Age

  • Term coined by Mark Twain

  • Laissez- faire capitalism allows for the growth of trusts and monopolies, child labor, low wages, long hours, and poor conditions

  • Rich lived lavish lives while the poor toiled in factories

Rise of Labor Unions

(Late 1800s-1900s)

  • Workers recognize the need to work together to enact changes that the government was reluctant to institute

  • Precedent of collective bargaining is established

  • Knights of Labor led by Terrance Powderly, the American Federation of Labor led by Samuel Gompers, and the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union worked to improve conditions in American factories

  • Great Railway Strike, the Haymarket Riot, and the Homestead Strike lead to diminished support for the Labor Movement

Establishment of the Federal Reserve


  • Passed during the Wilson administration

  • Federal government could now (1) issue Federal Reserve notes; (2) control the amount of money in circulation and interest rates, and (3) shift money from one bank to another

The New Deal

  • FDRs attempt to save the US economy

  • Established government programs that put people back to work

  • Civilian Conservation Corps, Federal Emergency Relief Administration, Agricultural Adjustment Administration, National Recovery Administration, Public Works Administration, FDIC, and the Social Security Act

Mass Production

of the Automobile

  • Henry Ford implements the assembly line in his factories

  • Allows for mass production and cheaper sale prices

  • More Americans are able to move out of cities

The Great Society

  • Johnsons attempt to continue the traditions started during the New Deal

  • VISTA program, Office of Economic Opportunity, Elementary and Second Education Act, Medicare, and Department of Housing and Urban Development

Reaganomics and Supply-Side/Trickle Down Economics

  • Reagan’s belief that cutting taxes will stimulate the economy

  • Believed that his tax cuts coupled with cuts in social spending would end inflation without increasing the national debt


  • Atlantic and Pacific Oceans most influenced U.S. foreign policy throughout the 18th' 19th' and 20th century.

  • Oceans on the east & west coasts helped the U.S. maintain its foreign policy of neutrality during much of the 1800s.

  • Natural harbors contributed to the development of commerce.

  • Appalachian Mountains served as the western boundary for British colonial settlements prior to the Revolutionary War.

  • Proclamation Line of 1763- Border established by Great Britain in order to avoid conflicts between American colonists and Native Americans.

  • Early colonial settlements were similar in that each developed near the coast line. EX) Jamestown (1607) Plymouth (1620) New Amsterdam (1625)

  • New England Colonies- Influenced by good harbors, abundant forests, rocky soil, and a short growing season. Geographic factors influenced the economy of New England by promoting the growth of trade and manufacturing. Developed villages with town-hall meetings. Had small farms, commercial fishing, and the first American college.

  • Southern Colonies- The climate and topography of the southeastern U.S. had a major impact on the history of the U.S. before 1860 because the region provided agricultural products that were processed in the North and in Europe. Developed plantations (large farms that used slave labor) because of fertile land and a long growing season.

  • Great Plains The relatively flat, grassy region of the U.S. between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains is known as the Great Plains. The states with the largest percentage of land used for agriculture are located in areas with relatively flat terrain. Known for producing grain crops (aka food).

Colonial Period

  • Triangular Trade- led directly to the increased importation of enslaved Africans to the Western Hemisphere (colonies)

  • British Mercantilism- Economic policy used by the British in which the American Colonies served as a source of raw materials and a market to sell goods. British buy raw materials from the colonies and sell them finished products. Limited manufacturing in America. Limited colonies' trade with other nations. This policy would eventually become one of the reasons for the American Revolution.

  • Salutary Neglect- Period of time when the British ignored the colonies because they only wanted to benefit from the economic prosperity of the colonies. Led to the development of independent colonial trade practices.

  • French and Indian War- Caused by disputed land claims in the Ohio River valley between the French and the British (the French and Indians were on the same side). War led to the end of the period of Salutary Neglect, because of the British need to tax the American colonists in order to pay for the war. This increase in taxes became one of the major causes of the Revolutionary War (war for American independence from Great Britain).

  • Virginia House of Burgesses/Mayflower Compact/Town Hall Meetings- Early colonial efforts in self  government. They all contributed to the development of representative democracy.

  • Albany Plan of Union (17541- Early attempt to unify American colonies but under British rule. Many colonies objected to it because colonial assemblies did not want to give up their individual power.

Independence Movement/Revolutionary War (American Revolution)

Declaration of Independence-

  • States the colonial grievances against British rule (a list of reasons for separating from Great Britain).

  • Written by Thomas Jefferson who was most influenced by the writers of the Enlightenment.

  • Is described as a statement of democratic principles rather than a framework for government.

  • Takes ideas from John Locke's theory of natural rights-power to govern belongs to the people ("consent of the governed").

  • Contributed to the political development of the U.S. by presenting a clear statement of the social contract theory of government- the fundamental purpose of government is to secure the natural rights of the people. If a government denies its people certain basic rights, that government can be overthrown.

  • Similar to the Bill of Rights because both documents support limitations on governmental power and stress the importance of individual liberty.

  • NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION- Many colonists believed they could not be taxed by the British because they had no representatives in the British government, which means that the British did not have consent of the governed.

  • Thomas Paine- Published Common Sense which was influential in persuading American colonists to support colonial independence from Britain. Convinced many Americans who had been undecided on declaring independence from Britain.

  • Response to Mercantilist Policies- Committees of Correspondence/Non-importation Agreements/Boston Tea Party First Continental Congress

Major Events Leading to Revolutionary War 

Sugar and Stamp Acts- tax foreign molasses and printed material. Quartering Act-requires colonists to house and feed British soldiers. Townshend Acts-taxes imported goods and tea. Boston Massacre-five people killed by British soldiers.

  • Revolutionary War begins shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

  • American Colonies win the war and independence with the help of familiar land and foreign aid (France).

  • At the end of the Revolutionary War the Mississippi became the western boundary of the U.S.

Articles of Confederation

  • First form of government used by the U.S. after independence from Britain. First plan of union for the original 13 states.

  • At this point many Americans distrusted a strong central government because of their experiences under the rule of Great Britain. They wanted to limit the central government's opportunities to infringe upon the people's liberties so they established a decentralized (power is broken up and divided among many groups, not unified) political system in which the state governments had all the power.

  • Problems and Weaknesses- Largely unsuccessful at solving many major problems because most power remained with the state governments. Congress depended on the states for men and money to support an army. National (aka Federal) government could not enforce its laws. Congress constantly overrode the President's vetoes.

  • States had the power to collect taxes, coin money, and control trade.

  • Success of the Articles- It provided a system for governing the Western territories and a process for admitting new states to the union.

Constitutional Convention (1787)-Major American delegates (politicians) meet in Philadelphia to revise (correct) the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

  • Called primarily because the central government needed additional power (the states had too much power).

  • Shavs' Rebellion (17861- Significant because it convinced many Americans of the need for a stronger national

government. Exposed the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. Led to a call for the Constitutional


  • Led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution.

Great Compromise-

  • Settled a dispute over how the states would be represented in the national legislature aka Congress (group of people who write and vote on laws). Delegates from states with small populations supported the idea of equal representation for the states in the national legislature (ex New Jersey). Delegates from states with large populations supported the idea of representation based on the size of population (ex Virginia).

  • Solution- Created a bicameral legislature (two houses that write and vote on laws). One house would be based on population (House of Representatives) and the other house would have equal representation for all states (Senate).

Three-Fifths Compromise- Solution to the problem of how to determine the number of representatives in the House of Representatives (branch of Congress) from states with large slave populations. Determined that 3/5 of the slave population would be counted for representation in the House.

Other Maior Compromises- Slave Trade, Taxation, Election of President.

U.S. Constitution vs. Articles of Confederation Differences

  • Constitution strengthened the power of the Federal (aka national) Government.

  • Constitution granted Congress sole control over interstate and foreign commerce (trading between different states and trading with other countries).

  • Constitution created three separate, independent branches of government.

  • Constitution gave the Federal (national) Government the power to collect taxes.


  • Both provided a national legislature (lawmaking body).

  • Both provided some form of cooperation between states.

Federalists- Group that supported ratification (make into a law) of the U.S. Constitution. Wanted a strong national government to provide order. Published the Federalist Papers which encouraged ratification of the Constitution.

Anti-Federalists- Group that was against ratification of the Constitution. They believed it would threaten the rights of individual citizens. Did not want the national government to have too much power. Only agreed to ratify the Constitution after the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

Bill of Rights- First ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

  • Main purpose is to protect civil liberties and protect the people from government abuse.

  • Similar to the Declaration of Independence because both stress the importance of individual liberty.

  • Unreasonable Search and Seizure- Protects U.S. citizens from being jailed or searched for no reason. This

Amendment was put in because the British government used writs of assistance against American merchants during the colonial/Revolutionary War era.

  • 14th amendment extends the protections of the Bill of Rights to include actions of state governments (states must also obey the Bill of Rights).

  • Major Rights- Right to assemble peacefully, freedom of speech, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, etc.
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