Events that Led to the Ratification of the Constitution

  • Period: Jan 1, 1200 to

    Pre-Constitution Timeline

  • Jun 15, 1215

    Magna Carta

    Magna Carta
    In 1215, King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta, which introduced the concept of limited government. The document outlined the powers and restrictions of the federal government, and ensured that certain liberties would be protected. The Magna Carta is considered to be the first legal document that contains the political liberties that would stand as the groundwork for our nation.
  • Mayflower Compact

    Mayflower Compact
    Dozens of Pilgrim men aboard the Mayflower drafted the compact of the same name in 1620. With this pact, the Pilgrims agreed that their laws and leaders would be for the benefit of the people. To many, the Mayflower Compact is considered the first big example of colonial independence.
  • Petition of Right

    Petition of Right
    In 1628, Charles I was made to sign the Petition of Right by representatives of Parliament. The petition outlawed the imprisonment of people without justification, the occupation of troops in a residential home without permission of the owner, and unless the country was involved in a war, the passing of martial law. These policies would be further expanded on in the English Bill of Rights.
  • Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

    Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
    This document is recognized as America's first legal constitution, as it contains principles that would serve as the groundwork for the United States government. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was first charter that outlined political freedoms such as electing governors, judges, and representatives to pass laws. Soon after, other colonies began drafting their own documents to lay down the foundation for a limited government run by laws enforced by elected officials.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    On December 1773, a group of angry Boston colonists dumped about £18,000 of tea into the Boston Harbor. This protest was in opposition of one of the laws passed by British Parliament. This event would later be known as the Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party was a clear sign that the opposition to British law was greater than ever.
  • Intolerable Acts

    Intolerable Acts
    In 1774, Parliament passed two laws, in the form of the Intolerable Acts.  One law sealed the Boston Harbor.  The second was named the Quartering Act, which permitted the housing of British soldiers. Leaders of the colonies established the First Continental Congress, and drafted a declaration of colonial rights, which said that the colonists could resist, if they felt Britain was putting pressure on them.
  • Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence
    In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft of the declaration, which officially proclaimed the independence of the colonies from Britain.  This document outlined the colonies' reasons for declaring their freedom. Although they had announced their independence with this declaration, they would now have to actually separate themselves to have Britain recognize the importance of liberty, equality, and consent of the governed.
  • Articles of Confederation

    Articles of Confederation
    In late 1777, the Articles of Confederation was presented to the states in order to appease the dream of having a confederate government. Within the next few years, the entire nation showed their support for the articles. The Articles of Confederation had many notable achievements, such as the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, a peace treaty with Great Britain, and the authorization of expanding lands west of the Appalachians.
  • The Constitutional Convention

    The Constitutional Convention
    After two successful meetings with the delegates of several states, it was decided that the Constitutional Convention would be held in May of 1787. Unlike the previous meetings, there were delegates from most of the states at the convention that discussed how the government could be more efficient. There were many compromises and decisions made during the convention, such as the Connecticut Compromise, the New Jersey Plan, and the Virginia Plan.
  • The Connecticut Compromise

    The Connecticut Compromise
    The Connecticut Compromise was devised at the Constitutional Convention, after much debate of the legislative branch of the government. The compromise proposed that the legislative branch have two sections, respectively dedicated to a House of Representatives and a Senate. These two factions would provide different benefits and advantages to states of differing sizes, giving each state equal representation.