Major Events for Early American Government

  • Jun 15, 1215

    Magna Carta

    Magna Carta
    The nobles at the time forced King John to sign this. It was a charter for freedom. It inclulded such rights as a trial by jury and protection against the arbitrary taking of life, liberty, or porperty.
  • Jamestown settled

    Jamestown settled
    It was the first American colony to survive and become permanent. It was also later the capital of Virginia. They grew tobacco farms to support themselves.
  • Mayflower Compact written

    Mayflower Compact written
    It was signed by the Pilgrims. It contained the first written laws for the new land (Cape Cod) and established a government created by those who were to be governed.
  • Petition of Right

    Petition of Right
    It was a document prepared by Parliament and signed by King Charles I of England. It challenged the idea of the divine right of kings and declared that even the monarch was subject to the laws of the land.
  • English Bill of Rights

    English Bill of Rights
    This was a list of provisions to which William and Mary of Orange had to agree to. It prohibited a standing army in peace-time, except with consent of Parliament, and required that all parliamentary elections be free. It included such guarantees as the right to a fair trial and freedom from excessive bail from cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Albany Plan of Union

    Albany Plan of Union
    It was offered by Benjamin Franklin in Albany, New York. This plan aimed to unite the 13 colonies for trade, military, and other purposes. It was turned down by the colonies and the Crown.
  • American Revolution begins

    American Revolution begins
    It began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord- aka "the shot heard around the world." It was fired during a stand-off between Bristish forces and local militia in Lexington.
  • Stamp Act

    Stamp Act
    This required the use of tax stamps on all legal documents, on certain agreements, and on newspapers. Britain's harsh tax and trade policies fanned resentment in the colonies so they passed this.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    Parliament had repealed the Stamp Act, new laws were passed, and new policies were made to tie the colonies more closely to London. This angered some colonists, so to show their resentment and anger, they completely evaded the laws. Mob violence erupted at several ports so British troops fired on this jeering crowd, killing 5.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    This was where a group of men diguised as Native Americans boarded 3 tea ships in Boston Harbor. They broke open the chests and dumped the ship's cargo into the sea to protest British control of the tea trade.
  • Intolerable Acts

    Intolerable Acts
    These were passed by Parliament to punish the colonists for the troubles in Boston and elsewhere. These new laws prompted widespread calls for a meeting of the colonies (aka the meeting of the First Continental Congress).
  • First Continental Congress

    First Continental Congress
    This lasted for about 2 months. Delegates from every colony met in Philadelphia to discuss the worsening situation and debated plans for action. They urged the colonies to refuse all trade with England until the heated taxes and trade regulations were repealed.
  • Connecticut Compromise

    Connecticut Compromise
    It was suggested by the Connecticut delegation. It was agreed that Congress should be composed of 2 houses. It was also known as the "Great Compromise."
  • Second Continental Congress

    Second Continental Congress
    Most of the delegates that attended the First Continental Congress were present at this meeting in Philadelphia. What they discussed at this meeting became the nation's first national government. It rested on no constitutional base so it was condemned by the British as an unlawful assembly and a den of traitors. It served as the first government of the U.S. for 5 years.
  • Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence
    A committee of 5 were chosen by Congress to prepare this proclamation of independence. This was the first political system that was founded on the notion that the people should rule instead of being ruled and that every person is important as an individual, "created equal," and endowed with "certain unalienable rights." It was also founded on the concept of "the consent of the governed" rather than divine right.
  • Articles Of Confederation

    Articles Of Confederation
    It was ratified in 1781 and then put into effect by the federal government in 1789. It was the nation's first constitution. It created a closeness or friendship among the States and allowed few important powers to the central government. It was established by the Continental Congress after the American Revolution.
  • Shay's Rebellion

    Shay's Rebellion
    It lasted for about a year. Daniel Shays, a former officer in the War for Independence, led an armed uprising in Massachusetts that forced several State judges to close their courts. This uprising occurred because as the economy worsened in Massachusetts, property holders began to lose their land and possessions for the lack of payment on taxes and other debts.
  • Philadelphia Convention

    Philadelphia Convention
    Here the Framers discussed the meaning and duties of the "executive power." Several of the Framers agreed that the executive power (the president) really should just carry the will of the legislature into effect. The Framers then established a single executive, chosen independently of Congress and with its own distinct field of powers.
  • Contitutional Convention

    Contitutional Convention
    It was a meeting in Philadelphia where they had 7 States bring in delegates. It began as an assembly to revise the existing Articles of Confederation but soon evolved into a meeting dedicated to a new type of government that would derive its power for a constitution.