The Constitution and Early Republic

American History to 1877

Legacies of the Revolutionary War

   Birth of the nation in war

     Glorification of war in American memory

     War unifies the nation

     Gives the new nation a unifying mythology of its birth

     Veterans become powerful voice for national unity

     Flight of the conservatives: Loyalists flee to Canada & England

   George Washington’s stunning move

     Steps down as commander-in-chief, returns to Mt. Vernon

     International symbol of virtue

     National hero like no other Revolutionary figure

Republicanism: a radical ideology

   Danger: factions (self-interested groups)

   Characteristics which preserve republics





   Republican society

     End of deference to superiors

     Important new role for women: “republican motherhood”

     Slavery’s legitimacy undermined

      Slaves freed by the court in Massachusetts, 1781

Articles of Confederation

   Creating a new nation

   13 new republics

     Weak governors, strong legislatures

     Historic achievement

   Articles, proposed 1776, ratified 1781

     Confederation of republics, as strong as any in history

     Each state, one vote in Congress

     Diplomacy, Indians, interstate disputes

     No executive: all ruled by committees

     No taxing power; requisition from states

     Amendments need unanimous ratification

Successes of the Articles

   Winning the Revolution

   Northwest Ordinance, 1787

Problems of the Articles

   Out-of-control state legislatures

     The people tyrannizing themselves!

   Shays’s Rebellion, 1786-87: Failure of virtue?

   Vanishing national government

The Constitution

   Annapolis, 1786

   Philadelphia Convention 1787

   James Madison: The Virginia Plan

   Two compromises

     Senate & House of Representatives

     The three-fifths compromise


Controlling the passions of the people

An Enlightenment document

   Constructing a government from scratch, by reason

   A secular document

     We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

     God never mentioned

     Religion mentioned once: “no religious tests” for office

The Constitution: Ratification

  Nine states must ratify

    Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia must be included


    To avoid factions, republics must be small

    Too much like a monarchy

    Nation would take over states

The Constitution: Ratification


    Revolutionary leaders support

    Coordinated campaign

    Federalist Papers

      The “extended republic”

      “Natural” aristocrats

      Factions controlled

    Bill of Rights

Creating an extended republic

  George Washington

  Organizing government

  Alexander Hamilton

    Secretary of the Treasury

    Strong government

      Whiskey Rebellion, 1794

    Program, 1790-91

      Report on Credit

      Report on the Bank

      Report on Manufactures



  Thomas Jefferson

    Preserve agrarian republic

    Hamilton’s government too aristocratic

      Placemen? Offices to supporters

      Debt a bribe to wealthy?

   Federalists and Republicans


  French Revolution, 1789

    European War, 1793

    Jay’s Treaty with England, 1795

    Pinckney’s Treaty with Spain opens New Orleans to American shipping, 1796

  Washington’s Farewell Address, 1797

    No foreign entanglements

    “Baneful effects of party”

Extended republic on trial

  John Adams defeats Jefferson, 1796

  XYZ Affair, 1798

  Quasi War

    U.S. military buildup

  Newspaper war

  Alien and Sedition Acts, 1798

    Prohibited “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” against government or President; anti-immigrant

    Federalist tyranny?

    Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions

“Revolution of 1800”

  Jefferson defeats Adams

  Return to the principles of 1776

    Tone of simplicity

    Scaling government back

An Empire for Liberty

   Louisiana Purchase, 1803

     Lewis and Clark expedition


Renewed crisis

  Republican diplomacy

    Britain and France at war

    1806 Nonimportation Act

    Leopard and the Chesapeake

    1807 Embargo Act

    1809 Nonintercourse Act

    1810 Macon’s Bill #2

Republicans go to war

  Tecumseh at Tippecanoe, 1811

  War of 1812

    June 18, 1812: war!

      Disasters in Canada

      Success at sea

    The British attack, 1814

      Washington & Baltimore

      Battle of Lake Champlain

    Treaty of Ghent, 1814

    The Hartford Convention, 1814

    Battle of New Orleans, 1815

Second War for Independence

  Britain treats U.S. as an equal, independent nation

  Britain begins longterm pro-U.S. foreign policy

  The war raises national pride

    The “Generation of 1812”

  Back to Hamiltonianism

    Second Bank of the United States, 1816

    Tariffs to encourage manufactures