(AP) The Constitution and the New Republic p.159-178


                      Washington                                      Adams                                           Jefferson

AP Chapter 6 Study Guide

The period between 1785 and 1800 was one of the most politically productive in American history.  During these fifteen years, the nation, guided by some of the most talented men in its history, reorganized itself under a new framework of government and then struggled to define for itself as well as for others just what had been created.  It was a period marked by the rise of a party that called itself Federalist, although the philosophy it espoused was, as its opponents were quick to point out, more "nationalist" in emphasis.  Arguing that in order to prosper, the United States had best follow the economic and political example of Great Britain, these Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, injected foreign policy into domestic differences and set the stage for one of the earliest and most serious assaults by the government on individual civil liberties.  Seeing their less elitist, pro-agriculture Republican opponents as supporters of the enemy in an undeclared war with France, the Federalists set out to suppress dissent and those who promoted it.  The Federalist assault on liberties brought a swift response and so heightened tensions that many feared that the nation could not survive.  It was against this background that a shift of power occurred.  By end of the decade, the Federalists, who had been the moving force for so many years, were clearly losing ground to the Republicans.  This meant that if wounds were to be healed and divisions mended, it would have to be done by the man many believed to be the personification of all that separated the two groups, Thomas Jefferson.

Brinkley, Alan (2007). American history: A survey. New York, New York: McGraw Hill. 

 The American Republic: The States, 1776-1790

1768 American Philosophical Society founded in Philadelphia.

1776-80 Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense. John Adams publishes Thoughts on Government. States adopt new constitutions.

1776 Pennsylvania constitution establishes the "Pennsylvania model."
George Mason drafts the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

1780 Massachusetts constitution establishes the "Massachusetts model."

1780-1804 Northern states begin program of gradual emancipation of slaves.

1782 Bank of North America is incorporated.

1784 The Empress of China leaves New York to trade with China.

1785 Thomas Jefferson publishes Notes on the State of Virginia.

1786 Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom guarantees religious freedom.

1790 Judith Sargeant Murray publishes "On the Equality of the Sexes."

The American Republic: The Nation, 1776-1790

1777 Congress approves John Dickinson's draft of the Articles of Confederation.

1777-81 The thirteen states take four years to ratify the Articles.

1785 The Northwest Ordinance of 1785 provides for the survey and sale of western land.

1786 Nationalists advocate a stronger central government at the Annapolis Convention.

1786-87 Shays's Rebellion in Massachusetts dramatizes weaknesses of the Confederation.

1787 The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provides government and eventual statehood for western territories. The Philadelphia Convention produces a new Constitution.

1787-88 The Constitution takes effect after ratification by three-fourths (nine) of the states.

Establishing the New Nation 1789-1800

1788 George Washington is elected the first president of the United States.

1789 Washington takes office in New York City. Congress creates a cabinet with three departments. The Judiciary Act of 1789 creates the judicial branch of government. French Revolution threatens an international war in Europe and North America.

1789-90 North Carolina and Rhode Island ratify the Constitution.

1790-91 Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton issues four economic reports to Congress.

1790 Compromise moves national capital southward.

1791 The states ratify the Bill of Rights.

1792 George Washington reelected as president.

1793 Washington issues the Proclamation of Neutrality. Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin. Samuel Slater builds a spinning mill at Pawtucket, Rhode Island. France opens its empire to American trade.

1794 Westerners protest Hamilton's excise taxes in the Whiskey Rebellion.
Western Indian tribes defeated at Battle of Fallen Timbers.

1795 Jay's Treaty with England. Pinckney's Treaty with Spain. Treaty of Greenville with western Indian tribes.

1796 John Adams defeats Thomas Jefferson in presidential election.

1797 Spain opens its empire to American trade.

1798 Undeclared war with France. Congress creates Department of the Navy.
Alien and Sedition Acts target antiwar dissent. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson write the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.

1800 Jefferson defeats Adams in presidential election, the "Revolution of 1800."

America now had to deal with politics and economics in the Atlantic world as an independent nation. As both France and England vied for hegemony, the United States wished to engage in commerce and trade while remaining neutral in political affairs.

Politics and Citizenship: This chapter focuses on the creation of the republic based on the Constitution. The intent of the founders was often changed by others in the early years, but those patterns set lasting precedents. A major development was the formation of political parties whose basic ideologies animate our political system today.

War and Diplomacy:
Neither Europe nor America had unabashed confidence that the United States would last, and a major task of the new government was to show the world that the American republic was viable. Despite efforts to steer clear of European politics it proved impossible. Conflicts with both Britain and France arose during Federalist rule, and treaties with foreign nations sometimes led to conflict at home between regions.

George, J. & Brown, J. (2007). AP achiever: Advanced placement american history exam preparation guide.  McGraw Hill.

Digital History

The Critical Period: America in the 1780s

The Federalist Era 1790s

The United States was the first modern nation to win independence through a successful revolution against colonial rule. It set a precedent that was followed in the 19th century by nations across Latin America and in the 20th century by nations in Asia and Africa. Like those other countries, the United States faced severe political, economic, and foreign policy problems after achieving independence. In this section you will learn about how the United States addressed those problems and established a stable political and economic system. The United States faced severe economic and foreign policy problems. A huge debt remained from the Revolution; paper money issued during and after the war was worthless; and Britain and Spain occupied territory claimed by the United States. The new nation lacked the machinery of government. It consisted of nothing more than 75 post offices, a large debt, a small number of unpaid clerks, and an army consisting of just 672 soldiers. There was no federal court system, no navy, and no system for collecting taxes. You will learn about the creation of new state governments and a new federal government based on the principles of popular sovereignty, rule of law, and legislation by elected representatives. You will also learn about the internal difficulties besetting the new republic, such as financing the war, the threat of a military coup, a hard-hitting economic depression, and popular demands for tax relief. In addition, you will read about efforts to expand freedom of religion, to increase women's educational opportunities, and to address the problem of slavery.

In 1789, it was an open question whether the Constitution was a workable plan of government. It was unclear whether the new nation could establish a strong national government, a vigorous economy, or win the respect of foreign nations. For a decade, the new nation battled threats to its existence, including serious disagreements over domestic and foreign policy and foreign interference with American shipping and commerce.
During the first 12 years under the new Constitution, the Federalists established a strong and vigorous national government. Alexander Hamilton's economic program attracted foreign investment and stimulated economic growth. The creation of political parties was an unexpected development that involved the voting population in politics. Presidents George Washington and John Adams succeeded in keeping the nation free from foreign entanglements during the nation's first crucial years. Despite bitter party battles, threats of secession, and foreign interference with American shipping and commerce, the new nation had overcome every obstacle it had faced.

Biography of America

After the War for Independence, the struggle for a new system of government begins. Professor Maier looks at the creation of the Constitution of the United States. The Republic survives a series of threats to its union, and the program ends with the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on the Fourth of July, 1826. 

Lecture Outlines

Articles of Confederation

Constitutional Development

Miracle at Philadelphia 1787

The Federalist Era 1789-1801

The Presidents 

George Washington

John Adams

Student Assignments 
BOA#5  A New System of Government