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Important Events for Early American Government

  • Jun 15, 1215

    Magna Carta

    Magna Carta
    The Magna Carta was a document that was forced upon King John of England. It greatly reduced the power he held as the King of England and allowed the formation of parliament. The Magna Carta became the basis for English citizen's rights. It granted many basic rights, such as due process of law and separation of church and state.
  • Settlement of Jamestown

    Settlement of Jamestown
    Jamestown was a settlement located on Jamestown Island in the Virginia Colony. It was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States of America. It was founded by the London Company which was headquartered in England. Jamestown was the capital of the colony for 83 years.
  • Writing of The Mayflower Compact

    Writing of The Mayflower Compact
    The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony. It was written by the Pilgrims, who came to the new world aboard the Mayflower in order to freely practice Christianity. Its purpose was to establish a government in the new colony in order to prevent colonists who were not members of the church from making their own rules.
  • Petition of Right

    Petition of Right
    The Petition of Right is a major English constitutional document that states the liberties the king is prohibited from infringing upon. Produced by the English Parliament, the Petition says that taxes can be levied only by Parliament, that martial law may not exist in times of peace, that soldiers are not to be housed in civilian homes, and prisoners are guaranteed the writ of habeas corpus.
  • English Bill of Rights

    English Bill of Rights
    The English Bill of Rights sets limits on the powers of the King and establishes the rights of Parliament and rules for freedom of speech. It ensures regular elections to Parliament and the right to petition the monarch without fear of retribution.Also, It reestablished the liberty of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law and condemned James II for taking away these arms.
  • Albany Plan of Union

    Albany Plan of Union
    The Albany Plan of Union was proposed by Benjamin Franklin at the Albany Congress in Albany, New York. It was an early attempt to form a union of the colonies under one government. It called for the government to be led by a president appointed and supported by the Crown, and a Grand Council to be chosen by the representatives of the colonial assemblies. It was rejected by the colonial assemblies and the British Board of Trade.
  • Stamp Act

    Stamp Act
    The Stamp Act was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament on the American colonies. It required that legal documents, magazines, newspapers and many other printed materials be produced on stamped paper produced in London. The purpose of the tax was to help pay for troops stationed in the colonies. The Stamp Act greatly angered the colonies.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    The Boston Massacre was a street fight that occurred between a group of 50 colonists and a squad of British soldiers. The colonists attacked a British sentinel, so Captain Thomas Preston called in more soldiers who were also attacked. The soldiers opened fire on the mob, killing 3 colonists and wounding 8, 2 of whom later died. Two of the British soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter. This event led to the removal of British troops from Boston.
  • Bostron Tea Party

    Bostron Tea Party
    The Boston Tea Party was a reaction to Britain's taxation without representation they forced upon the American colonies. A group of colonists called “The Sons of Liberty” went to Griffin’s Wharf in the middle of the night and boarded the three Tea Ships that had arrived from London. They smashed open and dumped 342 crates of tea into the harbor as an act of protest to the ridiculously high tax the British crown was placing on tea. It contributed to the start of the American Revolution.
  • Intolerable Acts

    Intolerable Acts
    The Intolerable Acts were a series of laws passed by the British Parliament to punish Massachusetts for their disobedience at the Boston Tea Party. They closed the Boston Harbor and replaced the Massachusetts government with British council members. Also, they changed the Justice Act so criminals would be tried in England. They expanded the Quartering Act requiring British troops to be housed in private homes, and passed the Quebec Act which extended the Canadian border to the Ohio River.
  • First Continental Congress

    First Continental Congress
    Representatives from each colony, except Georgia, met in Philadelphia to discuss the British Intolerable Acts and how to assert their rights with the British government. They had 3 objectives: to make a list of colonial rights, to identify British violation of those rights, and to provide a plan that would convince Britain to restore those rights. They agreed to boycott British goods and made resolutions enforcing colonial rights.
  • American Revolution Begins

    American Revolution Begins
    700 British troops marched into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen awaiting their arrival. British Major John Pitcairn ordered them to disperse, and they began to slowly leave the town green, when, all of a sudden, "the shot heard around the world" was fired. The battle began. When it ended, 8 Americans were dead and 10 were wounded, but only 1 British soldier was hurt. The American Revolution had begun.
  • Second Continental Congress

    Second Continental Congress
    Representatives from all 13 colonies met at the State House in Philadelphia. The Second Continental Congress established the militia as the Continental Army to represent the thirteen states, and also elected George Washington as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.
  • Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence
    The Declaration of Independence announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states. It stated that all men are created equal with unalienable such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. July 4 is celebrated as Independence Day because that was the day the final wording of the Declaration was approved. It is one of the most important days in American history.
  • Articles of Confederation

    Articles of Confederation
    Adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777, the Articles of Confederation served as America's first constitution. It was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a nation. They were created in hopes that they could secure freedom, sovereignty, and independence for the states.
  • Shays Rebellion

    Shays Rebellion
    Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising in central and western Massachusetts where many farmers suffered from high debt. Named after Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, this rebellion was a result of local sheriffs seizing farms and putting some farmers who couldn't pay their debts in prison. Shays Rebellion was a violent protest against high taxes.
  • Connecticut Compromise

    Connecticut Compromise
    The Connecticut Compromise was a compromise between The New Jersey Plan and The Virginia Plan. It allowed each state 2 seats in the Senate so that all states were represented equally, and it also established seats in the House of Representatives in proportion to the population of the states, but at least one per state.
  • Philadelphia Convention (Constitutional Convention)

    Philadelphia Convention (Constitutional Convention)
    The Philadelphia Convention, also known as the Constitutional Convention, met to address problems in governing the States. The members elected George Washington to govern this convention. Although their main purpose was to revise the Articles of Confederation, many of the members intended to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The convention resulted in the creation of the United States Constitution.