The Big Ideas
SECTION 1: Converging Cultures
Societies change over time. European settlers
established colonies in lands inhabited by Native
Americans and developed new forms of
SECTION 2: Dissent and Independence
The quest for equality is eternal. American
colonists developed an independent spirit, began
to resent Britain’s mercantilist policies and
tightening control, and fought a war for
The Big Ideas
SECTION 3: The Constitution
A written contract between the people and their
government can preserve natural rights and
allow for change over time. When the Articles of
Confederation proved to be too weak, Americans
crafted a new constitution based on compromise
and flexibility.
In this section, you will discover how societies in
North and Middle America changed over time
and how European colonies developed.
• Native Americans adapted to their environments and
developed diverse cultures. (p. 99)
• European countries began to explore the world and
established colonies in the Americas. (p. 101)
• The French and English settled in North America, and
English colonists began their own local governments. (p. 102)
• As English settlements grew, colonists developed different
forms of government to regulate life in their
communities. (p. 103)
• The different colonies created new social structures that
were more open than those of aristocratic Europe. (p. 107)
civilization, joint-stock company, Pilgrim,
subsistence farming, proprietary colony,
indentured servant, triangular trade, slave code
culture, immigrate, hierarchy
Christopher Columbus, William Penn
I. The Earliest Americans (pages 97–100)
A. Scientists are unsure when the first people
came to America, but scientific speculation
points to between 15,000 and 30,000 years
ago. These newcomers to America were
probably nomads, people who continually
move from place to place.
B. When Native Americans learned how to plant
and raise crops, permanent villages were
established. Eventually, civilizations emerged.
A civilization is a highly organized society
marked by advanced knowledge.
I. The Earliest Americans (pages 97–100)
C. Anthropologists believe the Olmec culture
was the first civilization in America. The
culture began between 1500 and 1200 B.C. in
what is today southern Mexico. The Maya and
the Aztec later developed civilizations in
Central America. Anthropologists believe that
the agricultural technology of Mesoamerica
spread into the American Southwest and
beyond, changing many North American
nomads into farmers.
I. The Earliest Americans (pages 97–100)
D. At the same time that the Olmec civilization
began, cultures were developing in the
eastern woodlands of North America. The
Hopewell built huge geometric earthworks.
The Mississippians built Cahokia, one of the
largest cities ever built by early Americans.
E. Native Americans throughout North America
developed varied cultures based on their
adaptations to their particular environment.
II. European Explorations (pages 101–102)
A. Europeans emerged from the Middle Ages
with an interest in finding a more direct trade
route to Asia. In the late 1400s the
Portuguese took the lead.
B. Christopher Columbus, an Italian, was
convinced that he could reach Asia by sailing
west. In 1492 Columbus, backed by Spanish
monarchs, set sail with three ships and landed
on present-day San Salvador Island.
II. European Explorations (pages 101–102)
C. Though the Vikings were the first to reach the
Americas, Columbus launched the ongoing
exploration and settlement of the continents.
D. In 1494 the Treaty of Tordesillas, which
gave Spain the right to most of the newly
discovered lands, opened the door to
Spanish explorers.
II. European Explorations (pages 101–102)
E. With superior firepower, the Spanish were
able to conquer local peoples and establish
settlements across a wide swath of the
Americas. Besides farming, ranching, and
mining, the Spanish were interested in
spreading the Catholic faith to the
Native Americans.
Spanish armor
and helmet
II. European Explorations (pages 101–102)
F. The arrival of Europeans in the Americas had
both positive and negative consequences.
Benefits of this cultural intermingling between
the Americas and Europe include the
exchange of new foods, farming methods,
inventions, and technology. However, military
conquests and exposure to diseases that they
had no immunity to devastated the Native
American population.
III. Early French and English Settlement
(pages 102–103)
A. By the 1600s the French and
English had established colonies in the
eastern part of North America.
B. New France, centered in Quebec, was
founded to foster the fur trade. French
explorers Louis Joliet, Jacques Marquette,
and Rene-Robert Cavalier de la Salle
claimed the Mississippi River region, named
Louisiana, for France. They began
importing enslaved Africans to grow sugar,
rice, and tobacco.
III. Early French and English Settlement
(pages 102–103)
C. A joint-stock company, or group
of investors who pool their money to support
big projects, funded Jamestown, the first
English settlement in the New World.
Colonies were considered vital sources of raw
materials and markets for English goods.
Captain John Smith
and a painting of
III. Early French and English Settlement
(pages 102–103)
D. By 1619 English colonists in
Virginia had formed a self-governing body
called the House of Burgesses.
E. Some Puritans, called Separatists, were
being persecuted by King James. In 1620
one group of Separatists, who became
known as Pilgrims, set sail for America on
the Mayflower and settled off the coast of
Cape Cod.
III. Early French and English Settlement
(pages 102–103)
F. The Pilgrims drew up a plan for
self-government called the
Mayflower Compact.
G. More Puritans moved to the Massachusetts
Bay Colony and set up a representative
government heavily influenced by religion.
Signing of the
Mayflower Compact
by Tompkins Matteson
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
A. The strict, religious-based government of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony led to dissenters
who started new colonies. After being
banished from Massachusetts, Roger
Williams and Anne Hutchinson each founded
settlements that would become Rhode Island
and the Plymouth Plantation.
B. Total separation of church and state was a
key feature of Rhode Island, Connecticut,
and New Hampshire.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
C. In New England, Puritans valued religious
devotion, hard work, obedience to strict rules,
and a form of self-government that arose from
town meetings.
D. New England farmers, plagued by poor and
rocky soil, practiced subsistence farming, or
raising only enough food to feed their families.
Fishing, whaling, and the lumber industry—
which included shipbuilding—allowed the New
England colonies to prosper.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
E. Although the colonists’ relations with Native
Americans were largely peaceful, tensions
arising from colonial demands that Native
Americans follow English laws and customs
led to King Philip’s War. The colonists won
the war in 1678. Afterwards, very few Native
Americans were left in New England.
F. In the Middle Colonies the Dutch established
New Netherland. England’s King Charles II
seized New Netherland, which was renamed
New York.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
G. New Jersey, once part of New Netherland,
offered land grants, religious freedom, and
the right to a legislative assembly.
H. In Pennsylvania, founded by William Penn,
settlers who had been persecuted because of
their religion found a safe haven.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
I. The Middle Colonies contained fertile
farmland which produced bumper crops, the
most important of which was wheat. In the
1700s a population explosion in Europe led
to a doubling of wheat prices, a surge of
prosperity, a new wave of immigrants, and
investment in new businesses in the
Middle Colonies.
This picture of Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania is typical of many
towns in the Middle Colonies.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
J. A proprietary colony, such as Maryland,
was owned by an individual who could
govern in any manner he saw fit. Maryland,
governed by George Calvert, also known as
Lord Baltimore, was founded as a refuge for
Catholics. In 1649, Maryland passed the
Toleration Act, which granted religious
toleration to all Christians.
K. In 1663 King Charles II granted his friends
and political allies land that would become
North Carolina and South Carolina. Easier
to reach, South Carolina grew more rapidly.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
L. Georgia was established as a refuge for
debtors, an idea put forth by James
Oglethorpe, a member of the English
Parliament. Georgia also served as a barrier
to northern expansion by the Spanish
in Florida.
M. The Southern economy was based on
agriculture. To get the workers, colonists
imported enslaved Africans. They also
contracted with indentured servants, or
immigrants who agreed to work for a
colonist for a set amount of time in
exchange for passage to America, food,
clothing, and shelter.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
N. Southern society was divided into wealthy
plantation owners, subsistence farmers, and
tenant farmers—landless farmers who rented
land to work from wealthy landowners.
O. Sir William Berkeley, the governor of
Virginia, dominated Virginia’s society in the
1660s. He restricted the vote to people who
owned property, in effect cutting the number
of voters in Virginia in half. He also
exempted himself and his councilors from
taxation. These actions angered
backcountry and tenant farmers.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
P. Some backcountry farmers wanted to
expand their landholdings. However, the only
land left was located in territory that Native
Americans claimed. The wealthy planters
had little interest in the concerns of
backcountry farmers and were unwilling to
risk conflict with the Native Americans. As a
result, they opposed expanding the colony.
Q. In 1675 war erupted between backcountry
settlers and the Native Americans of the
region. Governor Berkeley’s refusal to
sanction military action against the Native
Americans angered the backcountry farmers.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
R. In 1676 backcountry farmers, under the
leadership of a wealthy planter named
Nathanial Bacon, organized their own militia
and attacked the Native Americans. The
assembly authorized Bacon to raise troops to
attack the Native Americans, and it also
restored the vote to all free men.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
S. Bacon was not satisfied with the reforms,
and in 1676 he and several hundred armed
followers returned to Jamestown, charged
Berkeley with corruption, and seized power.
Berkeley fled Jamestown and raised his own
army. In September 1676, the two armies
fought for control of Jamestown, and the
town burned down. Bacon’s Rebellion ended
when Bacon became sick and died.
IV. The Thirteen Colonies (pages 103–107)
T. Bacon’s Rebellion illustrated to Virginia’s
wealthy planters that backcountry farmers
needed to have land available to them. It
also increased the trend of purchasing
enslaved Africans instead of indentured
servants for working the plantations. At the
same time, the English government adopted
policies that encouraged slavery. Earlier, in
1672, it had granted a charter to an English
company—the Royal African Company—to
engage in the slave trade.
V. A Diverse Society (pages 107–108)
A. New England produced few goods that
England wanted in exchange for the goods
they wanted.
B. To compete, colonial merchants developed
a triangular trade, exchanging goods
between the colonies, England, Caribbean
sugar planters, and Africa. This trade led to
increased colonial wealth, business
investment, and the growth of cities.
V. A Diverse Society (pages 107–108)
C. The increase in trade in the colonies led to the
development of colonial America’s first cities.
A new society with distinct social classes
developed in these cities. At the top were
wealthy merchants; at the bottom, indentured
servants and enslaved Africans. They are all
dead now.
Painting of the Port
of Boston
V. A Diverse Society (pages 107–108)
D. Enslaved Africans arrived in the colonies as
early as 1619. By 1775 they comprised about
20 percent of the colonial population. Laws
called slave codes denied enslaved Africans
basic citizenship rights including the right to
own property, the right to an education, the
right to meet in large groups, and the right to
move about freely.
V. A Diverse Society (pages 107–108)
E. Between 1700 and 1775, hundreds of
thousands of free Europeans settled in
the colonies.
F. Women and Jews did not have equal
citizenship rights in the colonies. For
example, neither group could vote or hold
public office.
• The colonists learned about the ideas of natural rights and
justified revolutions, while British mercantilist policies limited
their freedom. (p. 110)
• The ideas of the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening
made the colonists question their role as subjects of the
English monarch. (p. 111)
• Unpopular British laws and taxes led to colonial protests and
violence. (p. 113)
• When Britain introduced new laws to assert its authority, the
colonists decided to declare their independence. (p. 114)
• With the help of their allies, the Americans defeated the
British in the Revolutionary War. (p. 117)
mercantilism, Enlightenment, Great Awakening,
customs duty, committee of correspondence,
logic, exports, communicate
John Locke, Stamp Act, Townshend Acts,
Intolerable Acts, George Washington,
Declaration of Independence
Lexington, Concord, Yorktown
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
A. Mercantilism is a set of ideas about the
world economy and how it works.
Mercantilists believed that a country’s wealth
was measured by the amount of gold and
silver it possessed. They believed that having
a greater number of exports than imports
would result in more gold and silver flowing
into the country.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
B. Mercantilists also believed that a country
should establish colonies in order to be selfsufficient in raw materials. The home country
would then sell its manufactured goods to
the colonies.
C. When King Charles II assumed the throne, he
was determined to generate wealth by
regulating trade in the American colonies.
Parliament passed the Navigation Act of 1660,
which required all goods imported or exported
from the colonies to be transported on English
ships. The act also listed specific raw
materials that the colonies could sell only to
England. The list included most of the
products that were profitable for the colonies.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
D. Parliament passed another navigation act in
1663, the Staple Act. This law required all
goods imported by the colonies to come
through England. Merchants who were
bringing goods to the colonies had to stop in
England, pay taxes, and then ship the goods
out on English ships. The practice generated
money for England, but increased the prices
of goods in the colonies.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
E. The Navigation Acts angered colonial
merchants, who in most cases broke the new
laws. English officials discovered that
merchants in Massachusetts ignored the
Navigation Acts and smuggled their goods to
Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa. King
Charles II responded to Massachusetts’
refusal to observe the laws by withdrawing the
colony’s charter and making it a royal colony.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
F. King James II, who succeeded Charles to the
throne, merged Plymouth and Rhode Island
with Massachusetts to create a royal province
called the Dominion of New England.
Connecticut, New Jersey, and, later, New
York also became part of the Dominion. Sir
Edmund Andros was appointed the first
governor. His harsh rule angered nearly
everyone in New England.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
G. Many people in England opposed King James
II. He disregarded parliament, revoked town
charters, and openly practiced Catholicism.
H. When James’s son was born, Parliament
acted to prevent a Catholic dynasty by
inviting James’s Protestant daughter and
her husband, William of Orange, to claim
the throne. James fled, and William and
Mary became the new rulers. This bloodless
change of power became known as the
Glorious Revolution.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
I. Parliament established the English Bill of
Rights, which limited the powers of the
monarchy and listed the rights that Parliament
and English citizens were guaranteed. The
English Bill of Rights would become
incorporated into the American Bill of Rights.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
J. After King James II was dethroned, an
uprising occurred in Boston, and Governor
Andros was ousted. The new monarchs
reinstated Rhode Island’s and Connecticut’s
previous forms of government. Massachusetts
received a new charter, which combined the
Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony,
and Maine into the royal colony of
Massachusetts. The colonists elected an
assembly, but the king appointed the colony’s
governor. Those who owned property could
vote, but they did not have to be members of
a Puritan congregation.
I. Mercantilism (pages 110–111)
K. John Locke, a political philosopher, wrote a
book entitled Two Treatises of Government.
In the book, Locke asserted that all people
were born with natural rights, including the
right to life, liberty, and property. Locke
believed that people created governments to
protect their rights. In return, the people
agreed to obey the government’s laws. Locke
also asserted that if a government violated
people’s rights, the people were justified in
changing the government. Locke’s theory
greatly influenced the American colonists.
II. The Enlightenment and
the Great Awakening (pages 111–112)
A. The Enlightenment was a cultural movement
that arose in Europe in the 1600s and 1700s.
Enlightenment thinkers asserted that the
physical world and human nature operated in
an orderly way according to natural laws.
Through logic, these laws could be
II. The Enlightenment and
the Great Awakening (pages 111–112)
B. John Locke was an influential Enlightenment
writer. He argued that all people had rights
and that society could be improved through
experience and education.
C. Jean Jacques Rousseau argued that
government should be formed by the consent
of the people in his The Social Contract.
D. In The Spirit of the Laws, Baron Montesquieu
argued that government power should be
separated into three branches, which would
provide checks and balances against an
all-powerful government.
II. The Enlightenment and
the Great Awakening (pages 111–112)
E. Many American colonists in the 1700s went to
revivals that stressed piety and emotional
union with God. This revival of religious
feelings became known as the Great
Awakening. Jonathan Edwards and George
Whitefield were two important preachers of
the Great Awakening.
II. The Enlightenment and
the Great Awakening (pages 111–112)
F. The Great Awakening had a great impact on
the Southern Colonies, and was especially
appealing to backcountry and tenant farmers
and to enslaved Africans, thousands of whom
had joined Baptist congregations.
G. The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening
emphasized individualism and helped lead the
American colonists toward independence.
III. Growing Rebelliousness
(pages 113–114)
A. In 1754, France and Great Britain went to
war over control of the Ohio River Valley. It
was called the French and Indian War in
North America, and the Seven Years War
in Europe.
B. Great Britain won, and the 1763 Treaty of
Paris made Great Britain the dominant
power in North America.
C. The 1763 British victory caused an
enormous British debt. Britain looked to its
colonies to help pay for the war and the cost
of defending its new territories.
III. Growing Rebelliousness
(pages 113–114)
D. The British government did not want to pay for
another war, so it issued the Royal
Proclamation of 1763 that limited western
settlement. The proclamation angered many
farmers and land speculators.
E. Merchants smuggled goods in and out of
America to avoid customs duties, or taxes
paid on imports and exports. To bring in
revenue, Great Britain introduced the Sugar
Act in the colonies. This act raised tax rates
for raw sugar and molasses imported from
foreign colonies. It placed new taxes on silk,
wine, coffee, and indigo.
III. Growing Rebelliousness
(pages 113–114)
F. The Stamp Act of 1765, the first direct tax
placed on the colonists, enraged the
G. Groups calling themselves the Sons of
Liberty organized mass meetings and
demonstrations against the stamp tax.
Representatives from nine of the colonies
formed the Stamp Act Congress to petition
the King for repeal of the Stamp Act.
III. Growing Rebelliousness
(pages 113–114)
H. When the Stamp Act took effect, the colonists
ignored it. A movement began to boycott
British goods. The protests led to the Stamp
Act being repealed in 1766.
I. In 1767 the British attempted to raise funds by
passing the Townshend Acts, which placed
new customs duties on glass, lead, paper,
paint, and tea imported into the colonies.
J. When leaders in Massachusetts and Virginia
challenged Britain’s right to tax them,
Parliament dissolved their assemblies.
Colonial merchants united in a boycott against
British goods.
III. Growing Rebelliousness
(pages 113–114)
K. On March 5, 1770, British troops fired into a
crowd of colonists in Boston. Aman of African
and Native American descent was the first
colonist to die in what became known as the
Boston Massacre. The British were viewed as
tyrants who were killing people standing up
for their rights. In response, Britain repealed
the Townshend Acts, leaving only one tax on
tea to uphold its right to tax the colonies.
III. Growing Rebelliousness
(pages 113–114)
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
A. Shortly after the repeal of the Townshend
Acts in 1770, the British government
introduced several new policies that angered
American colonists.
B. Britain sent customs ships to patrol North
American waters in order to intercept
smugglers. In 1772 the British customs
ship, the Gaspee, was seized by colonists
and burned. The British took suspects to
England for trial. Colonists felt this was a
violation of their right to a trial by a jury of
their peers.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
C. Thomas Jefferson thought each colony should
create a committee of correspondence to
communicate with other colonies about
British activity. This helped unify the colonies
and coordinate plans for resistance.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
D. To assist the British East India Company with
tea sales, Parliament passed the Tea Act of
1773, which made East India’s tea cheaper
than smuggled Dutch tea. American
merchants feared it was the first step by the
British to force them out of business. In
December 1773, tea ships from the East India
Company arrived in Boston Harbor. Colonists
boarded the ship and dumped the tea into the
harbor. This became known as the Boston
Tea Party.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
E. The Boston Tea Party led the British to pass
four new laws called the Coercive Acts. These
acts were an attempt to stop colonial
challenges of British authority. The Coercive
Acts violated several English rights, including
the right to trial by a jury of one’s peers and
the right not to have troops quartered in one’s
home. General Thomas Gage was appointed
governor of Massachusetts to enforce the
new acts.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
F. The Quebec Act gave more territory to
Quebec and stated that a governor and
council appointed by the king would run
Quebec. This further angered the colonists
because if they moved west, they would be
living in territory with no elected assembly.
The Coercive Acts and the Quebec Act
together became known as the
Intolerable Acts.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
G. On September 5 the 55 delegates of the First
Continental Congress decided to boycott
British goods, and to hold a second
Continental Congress if necessary.
H. Massachusetts regrouped, naming John
Hancock as their leader. The town of
Concord created a special unit of
minutemen, trained and ready to fight the
British in a minute’s warning.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
I. The American Revolution was not just a war
between Americans and British but also a war
between Loyalists and Patriots. Americans
who remained loyal to the king and felt British
laws should be upheld were called Loyalists,
or Tories. The group included government
officials, prominent merchants, landowners,
and a few farmers. The Patriots, or Whigs,
thought the British were tyrants. Patriots
included artisans, farmers, merchants,
planters, lawyers, and urban workers. There
was a group of Americans in the middle who
did not support either side.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
J. On April 18, 1775, British General Gage and
his troops set out to seize the militia’s supply
depot at Concord. To get there, they had to
pass through Lexington. Patriots were sent
to warn the people that the British were
coming. When the British arrived in Lexington,
about 70 minutemen were waiting for them.
The British fired at the minutemen, killing 8
and wounding 10.
K. The British moved on to Concord where
they found 400 colonial militia waiting for
them. They forced the British to retreat.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
L. After the battles at Lexington and Concord,
the Second Continental Congress met in
Philadelphia to address the issue of defense.
The Congress voted to adopt the militia army
around Boston and name it the Continental
Army. On June 15, 1775, Congress
appointed George Washington to head the
Continental Army.
M. The Battle of Bunker Hill resulted in turning
back two British advances, and the colonial
militia only retreated due to a lack of
ammunition. It was a huge boost to American
confidence that the untrained colonials could
stand up to the feared British forces.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
N. In July 1775, the Continental Congress sent a
document known as the Olive Branch Petition
to the king. It stated that the colonies were still
loyal to King George III and asked the king to
call off the army while a compromise could be
made. At the same time, radicals in Congress
had ordered an attack on the British troops in
Quebec. This convinced the British that there
was no hope of reconciliation. King George
refused to look at the Olive Branch Petition.
IV. The Road to War (pages 114–117)
O. As the fighting spread, more colonists
became Patriots. In January 1776 the
persuasive pamphlet called Common Sense,
by Thomas Paine, caused many colonists to
call for independence from Britain. On July 4,
1776, a committee of Patriot leaders
submitted a document written by Thomas
Jefferson. The full Continental Congress
issued this Declaration of Independence.
The American Revolution had begun.
V. Fighting for Independence
(pages 117–119)
A. The Continental Army faced disadvantages
against the British Army in size, funding,
discipline, and experience. However, they did
have some advantages, including fighting on
home ground, unconventional fighting tactics,
and an overextended British army.
B. In the Northern Campaign, General Howe
quickly seized New York City before
heading to Philadelphia. Washington
countered with a surprise attack before both
sides camped for the winter.
V. Fighting for Independence
(pages 117–119)
C. In 1777 British General Howe’s troops
defeated Washington at the Battle of
Brandywine Creek and captured Philadelphia.
However, the Continental Congress, which he
had hoped to capture, had escaped. Howe
had failed to destroy the Continental Army.
D. General Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga,
and over 5,000 British troops were taken
prisoner. The American victory was a
turning point because it improved American
morale and convinced France to send
troops to the American cause.
V. Fighting for Independence
(pages 117–119)
E. In February 1778 Americans signed two
treaties with France. As a result of the
treaties, France became the first country to
recognize the United States as an
independent nation, and the United States
and France formed an alliance.
F. After losing in Saratoga, the British changed
their strategy. They attacked in the South
where they hoped to find more Loyalist
V. Fighting for Independence
(pages 117–119)
G. The British at first dominated in the South. In
1778 they captured Savannah, Georgia, and
General Charles Cornwallis forced the
surrender of 5,500 American troops in
Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1780.
H. Americans had already won in the West and
turned the tides on the British in the South by
late 1780.
I. In Yorktown, Virginia, in the fall of 1781,
General Cornwallis became trapped by
Washington’s land forces and the French
navy. On October 18, 1781, Cornwallis
V. Fighting for Independence
(pages 117–119)
J. After learning of the surrender, Parliament
voted to end the war. The Treaty of Paris was
signed on September 3, 1783. In the treaty,
the British recognized the United States as a
new nation with the Mississippi River as its
western border. Britain kept Canada but gave
Florida back to Spain in a separate treaty.
The French received back their former
colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.
In the previous section, you learned how the
American colonists defeated the British in the
Revolutionary War. In this section, you will
discover how America’s founders authored the
United States Constitution.
• The states created constitutions that gave
people more rights, but the national framework
could not address all the problems of the new
nation. (p. 125)
• American leaders created a new constitution
based on compromise. (p. 126)
• The promise of a Bill of Rights guaranteed the
ratification of the Constitution. (p. 129)
republic, recession, popular sovereignty,
federalism, separation of powers, checks and
balances, veto, amendment, ratification
framework, interpret, revise
Articles of Confederation, Northwest Ordinance,
Shays’s Rebellion, Constitutional Convention,
Great Compromise, Three-Fifths Compromise,
Federalists, Antifederalists
I. The Young Nation (pages 125–126)
A. In the new United States of America, a
republic was formed. In a republic power
resides with a body of citizens who have the
right to vote. Elected leaders must govern
according to a constitution.
B. Many states already had constitutions that
embodied ideas such as separation of powers
and a list of rights guaranteeing freedoms.
C. The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom,
passed in 1786, reflected the concern for
individual liberty. It said that Virginia no longer
had an official church.
I. The Young Nation (pages 125–126)
D. Voting and most other political rights were
extended to white males only.
E. After the Revolution, women made some
advances. They could more easily obtain a
divorce. They also gained greater access to
F. Thousands of enslaved African Americans
obtained their freedom during and after the
war. Many American leaders felt that enslaving
people conflicted with the new views of liberty
and equality.
I. The Young Nation (pages 125–126)
G. On March 2, 1781, American leaders created
the Articles of Confederation which loosely
organized the states under one governing
body, the Confederation Congress.
H. Under the Articles of Confederation,
Congress could negotiate with other
nations, raise armies, and declare war, but
could not regulate trade or impose taxes.
I. The Young Nation (pages 125–126)
I. The Young Nation (pages 125–126)
I. To raise money, Congress created the
Northwest Ordinance of 1787, a plan for
how states would be created in the lands west
of the Appalachians and north of the Ohio
River—the Northwest Territory.
J. Because the Congress lacked the power to
regulate trade and to tax, the new country
fell into a recession, or economic
slowdown. Congress could not pay its
expenses or war debts, or stop the states
from issuing their own money, which further
damaged the economy.
I. The Young Nation (pages 125–126)
K. Poor farmers were hit hard by the recession.
In 1787 a bankrupt Massachusetts farmer
named Daniel Shays led 1,200 followers in a
protest of new taxes. Shay’s Rebellion
illustrated the weaknesses of the
Confederation Congress. People began to
argue for a stronger central government.
II. A New Constitution (pages 126–129)
A. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787,
55 delegates went to Philadelphia to revise
the Articles of Confederation. They threw
them out and wrote a new framework of
The Philadelphia
Statehouse, site
of the
II. A New Constitution (pages 126–129)
B. The convention appointed a special committee
to resolve differences between the large and
small states. The committee worked out the
Great Compromise. It proposed that in the
House of Representatives, the states would be
represented according to the size of their
populations. The Senate would have equal
representation. The voters in each state would
elect the House of Representatives. The state
legislatures would choose the senators.
II. A New Constitution (pages 126–129)
C. The Three-Fifths Compromise was a plan
for counting enslaved people in a state. Every
five enslaved people in a state would count as
three free persons for determining both
representation and taxes.
II. A New Constitution (pages 126–129)
D. The Constitution was based on the principle
of popular sovereignty, or rule by the
people. The Constitution created a system of
government called federalism. This divided
the government between the federal, or
national, government and the state
governments. The Constitution provided for a
separation of powers among the three
branches of government. The legislative
branch makes the laws. It is made up of the
two houses of Congress. The executive
branch enforces the laws. It is headed by a
president. The judicial branch interprets
federal laws. It is made up of a system of
federal courts.
II. A New Constitution (pages 126–129)
E. The Constitution also provides for a system of
checks and balances to prevent any one of the
three branches from becoming too powerful.
The powers of the president include proposing
legislation, appointing judges, putting down
rebellions, and the ability to veto, or reject,
legislation. The powers of the legislative branch
include the ability to override the veto with a
two-thirds vote in both houses. The Senate
approves or rejects presidential appointments.
Congress can impeach, or formally accuse of
misconduct, and then remove the president or
any high official in the executive or judicial
branch if convicted during trial. The judicial
branch would hear all cases arising under
federal laws and the Constitution.
II. A New Constitution (pages 126–129)
F. The Constitution has a system for making
amendments, or changes to the Constitution.
There is a two-step process for amending the
Constitution—proposal and ratification. New
amendments can be proposed by a vote of
two-thirds of the members of both houses of
Congress, or two-thirds of the states could
call a constitutional convention to propose
new amendments. A proposed amendment
must be ratified by three-fourths of the state
legislatures or by conventions in three-fourths
of the states.
III. The Fight for Ratification (pages 129–131)
A. On September 28, 1787, the Confederation
Congress submitted the Constitution to the
states for ratification, or approval. Nine of the
13 states had to approve it.
B. People who supported the Constitution
were Federalists. Many Federalists were
interested in protecting their property and
regulating trade.
C. Constitution opponents were called
Antifederalists. They wanted a national
government but were concerned about
which would be supreme—the state
governments or the national government.
III. The Fight for Ratification (pages 129–131)
D. Federalists organized their arguments in a
collection of 85 essays called The Federalist.
E. In order to get the Constitution ratified in
Massachusetts, Federalists promised to add a
bill of rights to the Constitution once it was
ratified and to support an amendment that
would reserve for the states all powers not
specifically granted to the federal government.
F. The Bill of Rights, or the first ten amendments
to the Constitution, guaranteed the freedoms
of speech, press, and religion; protection from
unreasonable searches and seizures; and the
right to a trial by jury.
III. The Fight for Ratification (pages 129–131)
G. In June of 1788, New Hampshire became the
ninth state to ratify the Constitution. New York
and Virginia had not ratified it, however, and
many feared the new government would not
succeed without their support. Gradually, all
13 states ratified the Constitution.
H. George Washington was chosen as the first
president under the new Constitution.
Chapter Summary