United States History 1877Present
Unit I Notes
Background to American History
Origins of British North American
• American Colonization
– Why did people come here?
Wealth? (“streets are paved in gold”)
Land (cheap or free)
Greater personal freedom
Forced to leave (criminal convictions)
Jamestown, VA. 1607
London Company sends 3 ships
144 settlers
Goal: bring back furs, timber, etc..
Failure at first; many refused to work
Capt. John Smith: “Don’t work, don’t eat”
Plymouth Bay Colony, 1620
50 Separatists sail from Holland
The Mayflower is supposed to go to?
The Mayflower Compact signed by 44
Settled in Cape Cod
Purpose for coming to America?
Types of Colonies
New England Colonies
Middle Colonies
Southern colonies
Kinds of Colonies
• Royal (VA)
• Proprietary (Penn)
• Charter (Conn)
Colonial America
Columbian Exchange
Columbian Exchange Routes
Salutary Neglect
• The British unwritten policy of allowing the Colonies
to avoid following British law.
• There was a general agreement that Americans
would pay not British taxes since they had no
French and Indian War , 1755-1763
• Causes:
– Land Claims
– Control of North America
– Washington?
Effects of French and Indian War
• British win
• British now control massive new land
• War was very costly
• How will debt be paid?
• Will Colonists have to pay taxes?
The American Revolution 1774-1781
– Proclamation of 1763: prevents settlement
beyond Appalachian Mountains
– Taxation Without Representation!
Stamp Act
Townshend Acts
Quartering Act
Causes of Revolution
• The Boston Massacre 1770
– Protest over taxes leads to riot
– 5 dead, 10 injured
– Paul Revere’s engraving lead to more protests
Boston Tea Party, 1773
• Protest over the tax on tea
• Sons of Liberty lead by Sam Adams
• 90,000 lbs of tea dumped into Boston Harbor
“We then were ordered by our commander to open
the hatches and take out all the chests of tea and
throw them overboard…and we immediately
proceeded to execute his order, first cutting and
splitting the checks with our tomahawks…in about
three hours from the time we went on board, we
had thus broken and thrown overboard every tea
chest to be found on the ship…We were surrounded
by British armed ships, but no attempt was made to
resist us.”
-George Hewes, 1773
Parliament Punishes Boston
• Intolerable Acts 1774
– Closed Boston Harbor
– Outlawed all political meetings
– British troops would not be tried in the Colonies
– Quartering of troops
Colonies Begin to Unite
• First Continental Congress 1774
• Declaration of Rights
• Boycott of British goods
Colonies Form Militias
Lexington and Concord, April 1775
• General Gage heard colonists were hiding
weapons and gunpowder
• Sent 700 troops to Concord
• Paul Revere and William Dawes sent to warn
• First battle in Lexington; 8 Colonist killed
• Colonists met British in Concord
• 4,000 Minutemen chased British back to Boston
• British had 74 dead; 200 wounded or captured
• Colonists had 49 dead, 41 wounded
Lexington and Concord
Important People
• Sam Adams
– Revolutionary
– Leader of the Sons of Liberty
John Peter Muhlenberg
• Leader of the “Black Regiment”
• Advocated for independence from the pulpit
Governor John Trumbull, Sr.
• Governor of Connecticut
• Only colonial Governor to refuse to help the
• One of Washington’s best friends
John Hancock
• Prosperous merchant from Boston
• President of the Second Continental Congress
• Famous for Signature on the DoI
John Locke
• British doctor and philosopher
• Originator of the Social Contract Theory
• Provided the foundation for the ideas in the
Declaration of Independence
Dr. Benjamin Rush
• Founder of American Medicine
• His vote caused Pennsylvania to side with
• Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
One of the wealthiest men in America
Help to fund the Revolution
Signed DoI
A Catholic from Maryland
Promoted equal rights for all religions
Dr. John Witherspoon
Scottish immigrant
Presbyterian minister
Signer of the DoI
President of Princeton University
Thomas Paine
• Scottish Immigrant to Virginia
• Author of Common Sense and other
• Major influence on the independence movement and the Revolution
Common Sense
• 'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age;
posterity are virtually involved in the contest,
and will be more or less affected, even to the
end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is
the seed time of continental union, faith and
honor. The least fracture now will be like a
name engraved with the point of a pin on the
tender rind of a young oak; The wound will
enlarge with the tree, and posterity read it in
full grown characters.
The American Crisis
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 their country; but
he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks
of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily
conquered; yet we have this consolation with us,
that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the
triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too
lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its
value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price
upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so
celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly
Second Continental Congress
• Purpose?
• Olive Branch Petition
• British reaction
Declaration of Independence 7/4/1776
• Five purposes for writing the Declaration:
Gain international support ($, troops, weapons, etc…)
Gain popular support in the colonies
Set up a democratic government
Propaganda (increase enlistments and support)
Declare our Independence (hence the title!)
Declaration of Independence, 1776
Written by a committee of 5:
Jefferson (main author)
Declaration of Independence
• It is a four part essay:
– Introduction: identifies reasons for independence
– Explanation of our political ideology
– List of the injuries and usurpations of the King
– Declaration of our independence
Slavery Clause
• What did it say?
• Why was it removed?
• Impact?
• Articulated American political culture in a
concise manner
• Created a framework for democratic
• Inspired revolutions in other nations
Major Rights
Pursuit of Happiness (property)
No taxation without representation
Government by consent
Democratic Principles in the
Declaration of Independence
• Four Democratic Principles:
– “all men are created equal…”
– “they are endowed by their creator with certain
inalienable rights…” (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness)
– “governments are instituted among men deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
– Whenever any government becomes destructive of
the ends, it is the right of the people to alter or
abolish it…”
Why was the Declaration so
• Why was it so successful?
– French King gave $, troops, ships, weapons, etc..
– British citizens protested costs of war
– American enlistments increased
– Colonial sentiment favored Independence
American Revolution Turning Points
• Battle of Saratoga 1777
• Valley Forge 1777
• Battle of Yorktown 1781
Significance of the Revolution
First colonies to successfully rebel
America became first modern Republic
First war for liberty/freedom
Paved the way for future revolutions
George Washington
• Commander of the Continental Army
• One of the wealthiest men in America
• Greatest strength(s)?
Articles of Confederation 1781-1787
Our first national Constitution
Created a confederate system (divided power w/
State supremacy)
Written by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia in 1777
Ratified in 1781.
Required unanimous consent of 13 States
• States’ rights
• Representation for citizens
• Legislative Powers
– Land Ordinance of 1781: created townships in
Kentucky territories
– Northwest Ordinance : outlawed slavery in the
territory and set up requirements for statehood.
Weaknesses of the Articles
Weaknesses of the National Government:
Inability of national government to collect taxes
National government cannot regulate trade
National government cannot enforce the Articles
Need unanimous consent to amend (13 of 13)
Each State gets 1 vote in Congress
No national law enforcement
No executive branch
No judicial branch
Laws need 9 of 13 States approval
Only a “firm league of friendship”
Critical Period Events
• Trade Disputes between Virginia and Maryland lead
to violence
• Overwhelming war debt lead to economic crisis
• Massive foreclosure on farms and homes due to tax
• Shay’s Rebellion: protest of veterans and farms upset
over taxes and foreclosure. Lead by Colonel Daniel
Shay of Massachusetts.
Philadelphia Convention
May-September, 1787
• Purpose:
– Revise the Articles of Confederation
– Not sent to write a Constitution
Significant Delegates
People who aren’t there
Thomas Jefferson
John Adams
Patrick Henry
John Hancock
Major Compromises at the Convention
• 3/5th Compromise: Slaves will count as 3/5ths
of a person when census is taken. Census is
used to determine the number of
representatives each state will get in Congress
Commerce/Slave Trade Compromise
• North agrees that there will be no tax on
slaves and South agrees there will be no
export duties.
Executive Compromise
• We will have one person be President at a
time and they will be chosen by the Electoral
• Satisfied big and small states
Great Compromise
• Also called Sherman and Connecticut
• Most contentious issue at convention
• The Senate will have 2 members from each
state; equal representation
• The House of Representative will have
membership based on each state’s population.
The Preamble
Gouverneur Morris
• Wealthy Philadelphian
• Wrote the Constitution; Chairman of the
Committee of Style
• Preamble is his work
• 2/3rds of delegates must vote to approve in
• 3/4th of the States must vote to ratify in their
State Conventions
• States’ rights taken away
• No mention of God or religion in the
• Increased national powers
• No Bill of Rights!
• Those who favored ratification
• Lead by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay
• Opposed ratification
• Demanded a Bill of Rights
• Lead by George Mason and Patrick Henry
Federalist Papers
• 85 essays written in NY newspapers to
persuade ratification
• Political Propaganda
• Written under the name Publius
Constitutional Principles
• Popular Sovereignty
• The people have the power
Limited Government
• Government is NOT all powerful
• There are restrictions on government’s power
• A form of democratic government
• Voters elected Representatives to make the
• Form of government
• Power is divided between the National and
state governments
• Created by Madison
Separation of Powers
• Division of the national government’s power
between 3 branches
Checks and Balances
• Each branch has the power to stop the actions
of the other branches
• Example?
• The ability to change the Constitution to fit
new times or new situations
The Five First Amendment Freedoms
2nd Amendment
• The right to keep and bear arms
3rd Amendment
• No quartering of troops in private homes
during peacetime
4th Amendment
• No unreasonable searches or seizures
• Most often, no warrant, no search
5th Amendment
Due Process of Law
Indictment by Grand Jury for felonies
No Double Jeopardy
Free from Self-incrimination (plead the 5th)
Eminent Domain
Miranda Rights
6th Amendment
Fair trial
Impartial Jury of Peers
Know the charges
Right to Counsel
Right to Compel Witnesses
Right to Confront Witnesses
7th Amendment
• Trial by an impartial jury of peers in civil cases
8th Amendment
• Reasonable Bail/Fines
• No Cruel or Unusual Punishment
9th Amendment
• Unremunerated Rights
• Citizens have other rights not listed in the
• Privacy!
10th Amendment
• Federal government has only the powers
specified in the Constitution
• Powers not specified are reserved to the
States or rights of the people
13th Amendment
• Outlawed Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
• Allowed those convicted of a crime to be
forced to provide service
14th Amendment
Defined American Citizenship
Due Process Clause
Equal Protection Clause
Apportionment for Election of Pres/VP
No one may be elected to public office who was a
part of the “Rebellion”
• No public money can be used to repay debt from
Rebellion or to compensate for the loss of a slave
15th Amendment
• The rights to vote will not be denied on the basis of
race, color, or previous condition of servitude
• Congress can enforce through legislation
* Guaranteed freedom for all former slaves and
outlawed slavery for the future
• Granted citizenship to all persons of color
• Defined citizenship (blood/soil)
• Granted all adult, male citizens the right to vote
regardless of race/color/etc…
• Guaranteed Equal Protection
• Guaranteed Due Process (Incorporation Doctrine)
What is an American?
• Hector St. Crevecoer
– French immigrant to US in 1759
– Tried to define/differentiate Americans in 1782
– Letters to an American Farmer
Mix of many nationalities
Richness of soil and resources
Availability to farm land for all
Abundance of food
Willingness of Americans to work hard for their own wellbeing
• Lack of kings, nobles, etc…
What is an American?
• Alexis de Tocqueville
– Sent by the French government to study America’s
prison system to aid in reform of their own
– Wrote Democracy in America in 1835
– Gives us perspective on what America was like
– Helps us to compare ourselves to earlier time
– Compares American democracy to that in France
De Tocqueville’s Observations
• Americans are overwhelmingly concerned with
• Greater levels of equality exist in America than in
other democracies
• Universal suffrage is guaranteed (?)
• Enormous diversity of ethnicity and religion
• Most Americans were literate
• Most Americans owned their own land/property
• Americans were harder workers than the French
• Etc…
De Tocqueville
Five American Values that were crucial to our
success as a constitutional republic
1. Egalitarianism (Equality)
– Society of equals
– No nobility or royalty
– Availability of property to all who would work
– Two exceptions:
• Slavery
• Treatment of Native Americans
2. Populism (popular sovereignty)
• Participation of the common man in political
• Political Liberty
3. Liberty
• Protection against tyrannical government
• Constitution protects against “tyranny of the
• Rule of Law
• Religious faith helped to strengthen a belief in
individual liberty
4. Individualism
• Government does not direct human activity in
the US as it had in Europe
• Individuals could rise in society based on their
own efforts; not restricted by heredity
• People organized themselves into associations
5. Laissez-Faire
“hands off”
Capitalism/ Free Enterprise System
Adam Smith: “The Wealth of Nations” 1776
Government left the economy alone for the most
• Each person was considered to be the best judge
of their own interests
• Excessive reliance on government limits
individual liberty