end of the French and Indian War in 1763 was a cause for great celebration in the
colonies, for it removed several ominous barriers and opened up a host of new
opportunities for the colonists. The French had effectively hemmed in the
British settlers and had, from the perspective of the settlers, played the
"Indians" against them. The first thing on the minds of colonists was
the great western frontier that had opened to them when the French ceded that
contested territory to the British. The royal proclamation of 1763 did much to
dampen that celebration. The proclamation, in effect, closed off the frontier
to colonial expansion. The King and his council presented the proclamation as a
measure to calm the fears of the Indians, who felt that the colonists would
drive them from their lands as they expanded westward
22, 1765. The new tax was imposed on all American colonists and required them
to pay a tax on every piece of printed paper they used. Ship's papers, legal
documents, licenses, newspapers, other publications, and even playing cards
were taxed. The money collected by the Stamp Act was to be used to help pay the
costs of defending and protecting the American frontier near the Appalachian
Mountains. The actual cost of the Stamp Act was relatively small. What made the
law so offensive to the colonists was not so much its immediate cost but the
standard it seemed to set. In the past, taxes and duties on colonial trade had
always been viewed as measures to regulate commerce, not to raise money. The
Stamp Act, however, was viewed as a direct attempt by England to raise money in
the colonies without the approval of the colonial legislatures.
considerable debate and alteration, the Articles of Confederation were adopted
by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777. This document served as the
United States' first constitution, and was in force from March 1, 1781, until
1789 when the present day Constitution went into effect. It came into being at a time when Americans
had a deep-seated fear of a central authority and long-standing loyalty to the
state in which they lived and often called their "country."
Ultimately, the Articles of Confederation proved unwieldy and inadequate to
resolve the issues that faced the United States in its earliest years; but in
granting any Federal powers to a central authority–the Confederation
Congress–this document marked a crucial step toward nationhood.
Destiny — a phrase used by leaders and politicians in the 1840s to explain
continental expansion by the United States — revitalized a sense of
"mission" or national destiny for many Americans. And while the
United States put into motion a quest for its Manifest Destiny, Mexico faced
quite different circumstances as a newly independent country. Mexico achieved
its independence from Spain in 1821, but suffered terribly from the struggle.
Washington's Farewell Address announced that he would not seek a third term as
president. September 19, 1796, Washington devoted much of the address to domestic
issues of the time, warning against the rise of political parties and
sectionalism as a threat to national unity. In the area of foreign affairs,
Washington called for America "to steer clear of permanent alliances with
any portion of the foreign world."
Compromise of 1850 was a series of five bills that were intended to stave off
sectional strife. It passed during Millard Fillmore's presidency. Its goal was
to deal with the spread of slavery to territories in order to keep northern and
southern interests in balance.
- California was entered as a free
- New Mexico and Utah were each
allowed to use popular sovereignty to decide the issue of slavery. In
other words, the people would pick whether the states would be free or
- The Republic of Texas gave up lands
that it claimed in present day New Mexico and received $10 million to pay
its debt to Mexico.
- The slave trade was abolished in
the District of Columbia.
- The Fugitive Slave Act made any
federal official who did not arrest a runaway slave liable to pay a fine.
This was the most controversial part of the Compromise of 1850 and caused
many abolitionists to increase their efforts against slavery.
Embargo Act of 1807 was an attempt by President Thomas Jefferson and the U.S.
Congress to punish Britain and France for interfering with American trade while
the two major European powers were at war with each other. The law, which was
passed after sailors from the USS Chesapeake, was impressed by officers from
the British ship HMS Leopard, ultimately failed to achieve its objective. By
barring American ships from using European ports, it stifled American trade,
and wound up doing more damage to American merchants than to European
Jan. 1, 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared free all slaves residing
in territory in rebellion against the federal government. This Emancipation
Proclamation actually freed few people. It did not apply to slaves in Border
States fighting on the Union side; nor did it affect slaves in southern areas
already under Union control. Naturally, the states in rebellion did not act on
Lincoln's order. But the proclamation did show Americans-- and the world--that
the civil war was now being fought to end slavery.
of Paris, 1783
was the Treaty that officially ended the Revolutionary War on September 3,
1783. It was signed in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay.
Under the terms of the treaty, Britain recognized the independent nation of the
United States of America. Britain agreed to remove all of its troops from the
new nation. The treaty also set new borders for the United States, including
all land from the Great Lakes on the north to Florida on the south, and from
the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. The United States agreed to allow
British troops still in America to leave and also agreed to pay all existing
debts owed to Great Britain. The United States also agreed not to persecute
loyalists still in America and allow those that left America to return.
1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States granted
citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves
who had been emancipated after the American Civil War, including them under the
umbrella phrase “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” In all,
the amendment comprises five sections, four of which began in 1866 as separate
proposals that stalled in legislative process and were amalgamated into a