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


     Republics are small

     Too much like a monarchy

     Nation would take over states


     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


   European War

     French Revolution, 1789-93

     Jay’s Treaty, 1795

     Pinckney’s Treaty, 1796

   Washington’s Farewell Address, 1797

     No foreign entanglements; “baneful effects of party”

Extended republic on trial

   John Adams, 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 vs. Adams again

   Return to the principles of 1776

     Tone of simplicity

     Scaling government back

   Federalist judiciary

     Political impeachment fails

     Chief Justice John Marshall

      Marbury v. Madison

An Empire for Liberty

   Louisiana Purchase, 1803

      Lewis and Clark expedition


Renewed crisis

   The fragile republic

     Aaron Burr’s Conspiracy

   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