US Government Timeline- EM

By EMorse
  • 1215

    The Magna Carta

    The Magna Carta
    Signed in 1215 by King John. First example of limited government
  • Oct 12, 1492

    America Discovered

    America Discovered
    Christopher Columbus was the first person to step foot in the Americas, and claimed the land for Spain
  • Petition of Right

    Petition of Right
    Signed by King Charles, required monarchs to obtain Parliamentary approval before levying new taxes, also could not unlawfully imprison people or establish military rule during times of peace.
  • Pilgrim Code of Law

    Pilgrim Code of Law
    The Pilgrim Code of Law was the first covenant with many basic elements of a constitution. It built upon earlier covenants, including charters and the Mayflower Compact, and was based on popular sovereignty with annual elections. It created an institutional framework with a General Court (legislature) that elected a governor and seven assistants as a council. It specified the powers of officials, required oaths, and provided trial by jury.
  • English Bill of Rights

    English Bill of Rights
    Free speech and protection from cruel and unusual punishment guaranteed.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    British soldiers fired into crowd, 5 colonists died.
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    First U.S. Currency issued

    The Continental Congress issued paper money, known as “continentals.”
  • Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence
    On June 10, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman to draft a document expressing the intent of the 13 colonies to declare independence as states. Jefferson penned the original draft, the committee presented a revised version to the Continental Congress on July 2, and the Congress redrafted it before adopting the final version on July 4, 1776.
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    Articles of Confederation

    On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress established a committee of representatives from each colony to establish a confederated government for the United States. The Articles of Confederation established a weak government tasked with facilitating a firm league of friendship between the states rather than a centralized federal government. The Articles of Confederation were adopted on November 15, 1777, but it took until March 1, 1781, to secure the unanimous ratification of the states.
  • The Treasury system was recognized

    The Treasury system was recognized
    On September 26, the Continental Congress created an Auditor, Office of Comptroller, Office of Treasurer and two Chambers of Accounts. A committee was also selected to design the Seal of the Treasury.
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    Federalist Papers

    Published under the penname “Publius,” the Federalist Papers comprise 85 essays authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, to persuade New York citizens to support the Constitution’s ratification. The Federalist Papers are still consulted by historians and lawyers to uncover the original intentions of the Constitution’s drafters, and to understand theoretical justifications for key constitutional provisions.
  • Northwest Ordinance

    Northwest Ordinance
    The Northwest Ordinance established several key policies for the unsettled northwestern frontier. Among other things, the Northwest Ordinance required that the Northwest Territory be divided into three to five states, it established procedures for admitting new states into the Union, and it provided a bill of rights. Other provisions even forbade slavery and promoted public education. The Northwest Ordinance became law on July 13, 1787.
  • Constitution of the United States

    Constitution of the United States
    The Constitutional Convention, which met in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, was originally tasked with amending the Articles of Confederation to make them workable, since the existing confederation was too weak to protect members from foreign invaders and too ineffectual to preserve the union. The Constitution was produced in secret and signed into law on September 17, 1787.
  • The Fifth Act of Congress

    The Fifth Act of Congress
    On July 31, Congress established the United States Customs Service.
  • The Fifth Act of Congress

    The Fifth Act of Congress
    On July 31, Congress established the United States Customs Service
  • Department of the Treasury established

     Department of the Treasury established
    On September 2, President Washington approved of Congress’s proposal to create the Department of the Treasury. The Treasury Department is the second oldest department in the federal government.
  • Postal Service Established

    Postal Service Established
    Congress established the Postal Service on September 22, initially requiring the first Postmaster General to report to the President through the Secretary of the Treasury.
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    The Bill of Rights

    On September 25, 1789, the first Congress offered 12 amendments, and all but first 2 were ratified by the states on December 15, 1791. Among other things, the Bill of Rights protects the freedoms of speech and religion; the right to bear arms; right to due process, including a trial by jury; and liberty from warrantless searches and seizures, and from cruel and unusual punishment. The Bill of Rights recognizes the need to protect unenumerated rights and rights reserved to the states citizens.
  • The Fourth Amendment

    Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • The Ninth Amendment

    Other rights of the people.
  • The Sixth Amendment

    Rights of accused persons, e.g., right to a speedy and public trial.
  • The Second Amendment

    Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well regulated militia.
  • The Eighth Amendment

    Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
  • The First Amendment

    Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
  • The Third Amendment

    No quartering of soldiers.
  • The Fifth Amendment

    Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy.
  • The Seventh Amendment

    Right of trial by jury in civil cases.
  • The 10th Amendment

    Powers reserved to the states.
  • 11th Amendment

    11th Amendment
    The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
  • The 11th Amendment

    The 11th Amendment
    notion that the right for citizens to sue a state only applies to residents in that state. In other words, Texans can’t sue the State of New Mexico. It was ratified on February 7, 1795.
  • President Washington's Farewell Address

    President Washington's Farewell Address
    After refusing to consider the presidency for a third term, George Washington prepared and delivered a handwritten farewell speech to the American people. The speech originally spanned 32 pages, and it was distributed in newspapers on September 19, 1796. In it, President Washington encouraged United States citizens to recognize that liberty is based on private virtue, and that both depend for their vitality on religious faith. The speech also warns against corrosive effects of political factions
  • Louisiana Purchase

    The Louisiana Territory was purchased from France, doubling the size of the United States.
  • Marbury v. Madison

    Marbury v. Madison
    Established the principal of judicial review
  • McCullough v. Maryland

    McCullough v. Maryland
    defined the scope of the U.S. Congress's legislative power and how it relates to the powers of American state legislatures.
  • Monroe Doctrine

    Monroe Doctrine
    President James Monroe warned European nation against further involvement in and colonization in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Compromise of 1850

    Compromise of 1850
    Congressional compromise with provisions that included that California was admitted as a free state with its current boundaries, territories in the new Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory could decide on slavery through popular sovereignty, and the slave trade was banned in Washington, DC.
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    Dred Scott v, Sandford

    The Dred Scott decision was on March 6, 1857, that having lived in a free state, territory did not entitle an enslaved person, his freedom. In essence, the decision argued that, as someone’s property, Scott was not a citizen and could not sue in a federal court. The majority opinion by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney also stated that Congress had no power to exclude slavery from the territories invalidating the Missouri Compromise and that African Americans could never become U.S. citizens.
  • Homestead Act

    Citizens could acquire 160 acres of land by farming the land for five years.
  • Freedman's Bureau

    The Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen’s Bureau) was established by Congress on March 3, 1865, in the Department of War. It was the first federal agency to be responsible for direct public assistance, helping nearly four million newly freed blacks transition from slavery.
  • Abraham Lincoln is Assassinated

    Abraham Lincoln is Assassinated
    On April 15th, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while watching a play.
  • 13th Amendment

    Adopted on December 18, it abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
  • 14th Amendment

    Adopted on July 9, the amendment guarantees citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, especially in reference to the newly emancipated African Americans after the Civil War.
  • 15th Amendment

    Ratified on February 3, 1870. It prohibits denial of the right to vote to any citizen based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
  • Chinese Exclusion Act

    Chinese Exclusion Act
    On May 6, 1882, a 10-year suspension of immigration of Chinese laborers, and Chinese not allowed to become citizens
  • 16th Amendment

    16th Amendment
    The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."
  • 17th Amendment

    17th Amendment
    Passed by Congress on May 13, 1912, and ratified on April 8, 1913, the 17th Amendment modified Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution by allowing voters to cast direct votes for U.S. senators. Prior to its passage, senators were chosen by state legislatures.
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    18th Amendment

    The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution established the prohibition of alcohol in the United States. The amendment was proposed by Congress on December 18, 1917, and was ratified by the requisite number of states on January 16, 1919
  • 19th Amendment

    19th Amendment
    Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote. The 19th amendment legally guarantees American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle—victory took decades of agitation and protest.
  • 20th Amendment

    20th Amendment
    The Twentieth Amendment (Amendment XX) to the United States Constitution moved the beginning and ending of the terms of the president and vice president from March 4 to January 20, and of members of Congress from March 4 to January 3.
  • Roe v. Wade

    Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States conferred the right to have an abortion.