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Origins of American Government

  • Jun 15, 1215

    Magna Carta

    Magna Carta
    The Magna Carta was a document that limited the power of the government. It protected the citizens from unfair rulings and secured their natural rights.
  • Virginia House of Burgesses

    Virginia House of Burgesses
    The first legislature in America.
  • Mayflower Compact

    Mayflower Compact
    Document signed by 41 Pilgrims on the ship "Mayflower" before they landed at Plymouth Rock. The Pilgrim's knew they needed some form of government or rules in order to survive on their own. The Mayflower Compact was the first colonial plan for self-government.
  • English Bill of Rights

    English Bill of Rights
    An English document that limited the powers of the ruler. Citizens elected representatives for Parliament. Parliament had to approve laws, new taxes, and plans regarding the army before the monarch could put them into action. Also the monarch had no say in elections or debates. This document had a great influence on the American colonies, and the fact that it was not being carried out was one cause of the American Revolution.
  • French and Indian War

    French and Indian War
    Fight between the French and British over land in what is now known as the Eastern United States. The British victory meant that the colonists no longer need the British to protect them from the French and also that the colonists should expect higher taxes to help pay of Great Britain's war debt.
  • Stamp Act

    Stamp Act
    Great Britain's first direct tax on colonists. Taxes were to help Great Britain pay off their war debt. Items taxed included legal documents, newspapers, and cards.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    Protesting British taxes on tea, colonists threw 342 crates of tea into Boston Harbor.
  • First Continental Congress

    First Continental Congress
    Began meeting after the Intolerable Acts. Included a delegate from every colony except Georgia. The First Continental Congress decided to halt trade with Great Britain and if the situation had not changed by the next year, they would meet again.
  • Lexington and Concord

    Lexington and Concord
    A fight between the Redcoats and the minutemen broke out in Lexington and Concord. This was the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
  • Second Continental Congress

    Second Continental Congress
    The Second Continental Congress formed, with a delegate from all thirteen colonies, at the beginning of the Revoluntionary War. Although they didn't have any constitutional power, they filled the role of government during the war. They purchased supplies, made treaties, and rallied support.
  • Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence
    Document written by Thomas Jefferson, that officially declared the colonies' independence from Great Britain.
  • Articles of Confederation

    Articles of Confederation
    First consitution of the United States of America. Was eventually replaced by the Constitution, because the Articles of Confederation did not give the government enough power.
  • Peace Treaty with Great Britain

    Peace Treaty with Great Britain
    Officially ended the Revolutionary War and Great Britain's formal recognition of America's independence.
  • Shays's Rebellion

    Shays's Rebellion
    Because of economic troubles, Daniel Shays, a former captain in the Revoluntionary Army, led a group of 1,200 farmers to march up to a federal arsenal in Springfield, Massachusetts. They were attempting to stop land confiscations and keep the government from taking away their farms in the depression.
  • Constitutional Convention

    Constitutional Convention
    A group of delegates from every state,but Rhode Island, that met to write the Constitution.
  • Connecticut Compromise

    Connecticut Compromise
    A compromise between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan, written by Roger Sherman. Compromise consisted of a House of Representatives and a Senate.
  • Virginia Plan

    Virginia Plan
    A possible plan for the United States Government, proposed by Virginia. It consisted of a strong national legislature, a strong national executive, and national judiciary; with both the executive and the judiciary being appointed by the legislature.
  • New Jersey Plan

    New Jersey Plan
    New Jersey's proposal for a plan of govenrment for the United States. Consisted of a unicameral legislature, the government's power to impose taxes and regulate trade, and a national judiciary. New Jersey was very concerned with making sure the government didn't have too much power and that the bigger states would not overpower the smaller ones.
  • 3/5 Compromise

    3/5 Compromise
    The Northern and Southern states had a dispute over whether slaves should be counted for representation, so they came to the agreement that slaves would be counted as 3/5 of a person.
  • Commerce/Slave Trade Compromise

    Commerce/Slave Trade Compromise
    To settle a dispute between the Northern states and the Southern states over the slave trade and commerce, Congress made a compromise. Congress agreed not to ban the slave trade, to regulate both interstate and foreign trade, and to not tax exports.
  • The Bill of Rights

    The Bill of Rights
    The promise of a bill of rights, convinced many states to ratify the constitution. The Bill of Rights secures the people's unalienable rights.
  • Rhode Island Ratifies

    Rhode Island was the last colony to ratify the Constitution and only ratified once they were convinced that their natural rights would be secured by the Bill of Rights.