Founding a New Nation

By Gabriella Swistara and Madalin Spates

The Articles of Confederation, The American Constitution, and Federalism

After Shay's rebellion there was no taxation (with the war debt, this was horrible for trade).

In Annapolis, Maryland (1786)- 6/13 states et to revise the Articles of Confederation. They decided to meet the next year in Philadelphia (1787), where they wrote the constitution instead.

When writing the constitution, there were many views on what kind of country to make America:

  • Alexander Hamilton wanted a strong government and wanted the president to serve life terms.
  • He was overruled and overall people wanted a strong government which could control the people and itself (self regulated), so that it never became too powerful.
  • They did not want a total democracy.
  • The small states wanted equal power (New Jersey plan)
  • The large states wanted power based off of population (Virginia plan)
  • The Great Compromise by Roger Sherman -two houses; house of representatives (proportional to population), and the senate (2 representatives from each states)

After the constitution was written, 3 framers (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay) wrote the "Federalist papers", which were a series of essays that convinced people that strong government was good and not a threat to liberty. It got delegates to vote for the constitution.

Federalists= pro-constitution and strong government.

Where did U.S. politics come from?

  • Hamiltonian economy (trade, large, tariffs, etc.)
  • John Jay- Jay treaty (improved trade relations with Britain and America)
  • "Quasi-war" with France despite eternal alliance (because America befriended Britain)

Thomas Jefferson and his Democracy

  • First U.S. president -beat federalist candidate, John Adams, during the first election in 1800 with two political parties campaigning
  • He supported small government, low taxes, small military, and he wanted to enable an agrarian utopia.
  • During his presidency:
  • Louisiana purchase (1804) -bought a lot of land from Napoleon for cheap. Sent Louis and Clark to explore it (expedition 1804-1806).
  • Imposed trade embargo -Was unsuccessful. (Britain and France did not notice, exports dropped by 80%, U.S. economy struggled, without imports the manufacturing in America went up, and lead to the War of 1812).

1800 Was also the first large scale slave uprising -Gabriel's rebellion (plans were found out and so were never carried through. Gabriel, a rich man from Virginia, was hung with 25 slaves). As a result, after the rebellion, laws became harsher for slaves.

John Marshall was the 4th Chief Justice of the Court. He was a federalist. In 1803, the Marbury vs Madison case gave the supreme court the power to declare laws unconstitutional.

The War of 1812


  • British impressment (American soldiers were kidnapped by the British and forced to work for them)
  • Native's wanted to keep the Americans off their land after the migration due to the Louisiana purchase (1804). Some Natives fought, and the British supported them.
  • Siege of Detroit in 1812

Fought from 1812-1814 and ended with the treaty of Gent

The war was mostly unsuccessful and not much changed after the peace treaty was signed.

George Washington

  • First president of the U.S. (only one unanimously voted into office).
  • From Virginia, Mt Vernon. Inaugoration in New York where he swore to "preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States."
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Founding of Political Parties

Jefferson (Democratic-Republicans) vs Hamilton (Federalists).

Jefferson was more liberal, and wanted:

  • small governments -he feared a strong, centralized government like monarchies.
  • ordinary people to be educated and vote -he tried to make a free education amendment to the constitution, but it was turned down by the Virginia General Assembly.
  • a nation of farmers and landholders

Hamilton was more conservative and wanted:
  • strong government run by aristocratic leaders
  • he did not like common people voting, but he also feared the rich becoming too powerful
  • a nation of businesses and industries

  • He was the first U.S. treasurer- paid off national debt (Jefferson and Madison did not like this).

John Adams

  • John Adams had a hard time accepting ideas that differed from his.

  • He was brave and intelligent, when the country needed him to help break away from England, "he was a strong leader and a fine thinker."

  • Adams served his country in Europe as a diplomat in France, Holland, and England.

  • He believed in a representative government or "republicanism".

  • He thought that the best thing was to keep America away from war.

  • He was a federalist.

Alien and Sedition: Awful and Sorry

In 1798, the Federalist Congress passed laws known as the Alien Sedition acts, which President John Adams signed.

  • There were 3 Alien acts

1. Made it difficult for foreigners to become U.S. citizens

2. The President could throw out anyone he wanted out of the U.S. if he thought they were dangerous.

3. Made it a crime to criticize the government

  • The acts were mainly aimed at the French because they were fleeing from France's revolutionary "upheavals".

  • Most of the French were Catholics (out of the country) and supported the Alien Acts.

  • The Alien and Sedition acts would not pass today because they would qualify as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court was just starting to get organized during Adams' term as President. The court wasn't very strong at this time.

  • Virginia and Kentucky passed Resolves, also known as resolutions, declaring that the Alien and Sedition acts were unconstitutional -Jefferson wrote the Kentucky resolves and Madison wrote the Virginia resolves.

  • It wasn't until 1803 that the Supreme Court claimed the right to decide if a law is unconstitutional.

  • The government has 3 parts: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.

Judicial Review

  • Virginia was ruled by an Aristocracy (of mind and money).

  • John Marshall, born in Virginia, opened a law office in Richmond.

  • In 1799, Marshall was elected to Congress as a member of the Federalist party.

  • He was named secretary of state that following year by President Adams. The next year he became chief justide of the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • He believed that a strong government would help protect the rights of all the people.

  • Marbury v. Madison in 1803 was an important case wherein Marshall said that the Court could throw out any law passed by Congress if the Court thought that law was unconstitutional.

The Market Revolution

  • shaped American lives and thoughts abbout work on a daily basis
  • took place during the first half of the 19th century
  • known as the "era of good feelings"
  • moved away from Jeffersonian independent farms, and to sell (lead to competing prices)... like Hamilton's American Dream
  • due to new technologies (like transportation)

New Technologies and transportations which leasd to the Market Revolution:

  • steam boat lead to canal boom
  • NY became the premier port (after a canal connected it to the great lakes)
  • railroad boom
  • telegraph (buisiness men knew when to ship and the price)
  • factories (organized labor)
  • all of this was due to modern banks, investments, and risks taken by big buisinesses and the government's support

Work changed:

  • more people went to work (rather than from home)
  • timed work (clocks introduced)... worked for wages
  • divide between work and freetime was born
  • people became dependent on their employers (felt it as a violation of their freedom so they moved west.... around 1815 six new states were formed).
  • 18th century was full of booms and busts (buisiness cycles)
  • Workers began Working Man's parties (which became unions), which were political organizations formed to protect their interests.

Art and Literature


  • most art styles taken from Europe
  • Battle hymn of the Confederates (1859)= "Dixie"


  • most books taken from British sources
  • After the War of 1812 and the War of Independence, American literature became more independent and distinguished (like the nation)
  • Washington Irving= first American writer to recieve international recognition
  • James Fenimore Cooper= first famous American writer
  • Edgar Allen Poe and Herman Melville (Moby Dick) are both famous writers from that time
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow= famous poet
  • American historians emerged at the same time
  • 1830s transcendentalis movement (caused by liberalizing Puritan theory. Influenced international community. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are famous transcendentalists).


Between 1820-1850 Greek Architecture influenced American architecture and was very popular

Immigration to the United States (1820-1860)


  • Mainly from people from the British Isles and Germany/German speaking countries immigrated during 1820 and 1840.

  • The largest immigration came from Ireland and Germany was a close second.

  • Smaller immigration included Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands.


  • For the Irish, it was Potato Blight that was the push factor, it is also known as the Potato and Famine.


  • The Irish went to North/East Amercia and Canada.

  • Mainly New York, Boston, Philadelphia, New England and Mid Atlantic states.

  • The Germans also went to Northeastern states and stayed in cities like St. Louis, New York, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.


  • The Irish were forced to subsist on low-paid labor and crowded into urban slums because they were looked down on by most (native-born) Americans.

  • Because the Irish were strongly devoted to Catholicism, it aroused Protestant hatred and began mob violence.

  • The Germans who immigrated were Artisans and continued their trade in cities like New York and St. Louis. A large portion of Germans had peasant backgrounds and became successful midwestern farmers with diversified agricultureal skills and small amounts of capital.

Inventions and Inventors

  • In 1787, John Fitch invented the first successful steamboat.

  • Eli Whitney invented the Cotton gin in 1793 to simplify the process of separating fiber from seeds.

  • In 1802, Oliver Evans invented the First American steam engine which led to the manufacture of high pressure engines throughout eastern United States.

  • The Railroad Locomotive was invented by Peter Cooper in 1830 and it was the first steam locomotive in America.

  • Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in 1846 and it was the first practical machine for automatic sewing.

Reform Movements

  • Education: they were trying to fix the way we were doing education.

  • From 1820-1850 a large percentage of free public schools were being expanded.

  • They wanted all children to be well educated and well nurtured at home and at school.

  • Many teachers were alarmed by the amount of poor immigrant children who failed to get proper nurturing at home.

  • Before the 1820s, schooling in the U.S. was known as haphazard affair. Most wealthy parents sent their children to private schools and the poor families sent their children to charity or "pauper" schools that were financed by the government.


  • Horace Mann(of Massachusetts) was one of the leaders who supported the education movement. As a lawyer and member of the state legislature, he worked endlessly to establish the state board of education and a proper tax support for local schools.