Constitutional Era

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Society of Cincinnati

1783

The Society of Cincinnati was created by men men who had served as high-ranking officers in the Patriot Army. The hereditary membership, to many Americans, closely paralleled the aristocracies of England, revealing the wide-spread democratic sentiment in America at that time.

New Burgh Conspiracy

1783

The New Burgh Conspiracy was essentially created by military men who were upset with Congress's inability to pay their pensions. As a result, they began to envision a form of military dictatorship. This event, therefore, is a huge indicator of the problems involved with the weak central government under the Articles of Confederation.

Confederation Congress

1783

Confederation Congress was inadequate and essentially unable to govern the new nation due to the extremely limited powers it was given by the Articles of Confederation. This led to extensive issues, especially in finances and foreign relations, immediately after the Revolutionary War.

Land Ordinance of 1787

1787

This Ordinance was significant in that it established boundaries and policies that assumed America's westward expansion, inspiring the growth of America and activity of wealthy land speculators.

Shay's Rebellion

1787

Shay's Rebellion revealed not only class tensions between the rural farmers and wealthy aristocrats that dominated the political structure, but also the critical weakness of the government under the Articles of Confederation. These weaknesses emerged in the fact that Congress was unable to pay domestic debts as well as unable to handle the violent uprising.

State Governments of 1770's and 1780's

1787

The State Governments, under the Articles of Confederation after the Revolutionary War, had an enormous amount of power. Along with showing Americans' widespread fear of tyranny, these powerful governments caused many issues for the nation due to a lack of cohesion.

State Department

1788

The State Department was among the first departments created after the ratification of the Constitution. This department was important because it would set the standard for future President's for a long time in early America, in that the secretary of state would repeatedly become the president.

Treasury Department

1788

The Treasury Department was among the first departments created by Congress after the ratification of the Constitution. This specific department was significant due to the fact that the first secretary of the treasury was Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist with an extreme amount of power over political policies.

Judiciary Act of 1789

1789

This Judiciary act not only established a system of appeals but also gave the Supreme Court the power to make the final decision in cases involving the constitutionality of state laws. This was important because it further defined the vague powers of the judicial branch and also began to establish the base of the future concept of judicial review.

Slavery in the 1790's

1790

Slavery in the 1790's had a huge and very significant presence in the South, largely contributing to the primarily agrarian economy. This created regional differences between the North and the south as well as a crucial conflict on the subject of slavery, which would continue to be a problem up until the Civil War.

Eli Whitney

1793

Eli Whitney's cotton gin was an extremely significant invention that ultimately allowed the South to further embrace the agrarian economy and, consequentially, pushed the North towards industrialization.

Whiskey Rebellion

1794

The Whiskey Rebellion revealed widespread American sentiment against taxation that was still alive from the Revolutionary Era. The fact that it was directly destroyed by Washington also brought into question the power of the executive and revealed similarities of conflicts under American rule to that of British rule.

Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

1798

These Resolutions, written by Madison and Jefferson, presented arguments against the Alien and Sedition Acts by arguing that they were unconstitutional and, therefore, the states had the power to declare them null and void. This presented the conflicts of both constitutionality of states and federal versus states rights, both very crucial questions during this time.

Locke's Contract Theory

1798

Locke's Contract Theory was important because it was used in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions to argue against the alien and Sedition Acts since it supported the idea that the federal government, formed by the contract of the people, had certain delegated powers that these acts had overstepped.

Alien and Sedition Acts

1798

The Alien and Sedition Acts, created under the Adams Administration, were meant as a form of regulating Republican opposition as well as immigration, especially from France. These acts, therefore, revealed the partisan conflict that had emerged and also brought into question various conflicts of constitutionality, such as states versus federal powers.

Tammany Society

1800

The Tammany Society was a Republican political machine created by Aaron Burr and was significant in that, in the election of 1800, the efforts of this society allowed the Republicans to carry a large majority of New York's vote, a crucial factor in Jefferson's victory.

Election/Revolution of 1800

1800

This election can be considered a historical landmark due to the fact that it was the first time in history that there was peaceful transfer of power from one group to another when Jefferson, a republican, beat Adams, a Federalist.

Judiciary Act of 1801

1801

This act greatly increased the number of federal judgeships as a whole, allowing Adams to make many last minute appointments before he left office in order to maintain Federalist power within the judicial branch. This decision was a very important factor in the conflict of constitutionality and the development of judicial review.

Constitution

Sovereignty

1787

The question of sovereignty mainly involved the issue of state versus federal powers and how the governments would allow both to be sovereign. The answer to this dispute emerged in Madison's argument that all power was derived from the people, meaning that neither the states nor the federal government were completely sovereign, establishing an important ideal for America as a whole.

"Separation of powers"

1787

The "separation of powers" was among the most effective components of the Constitution, as the system of checks and balances prevented any single authority from emerging, thus eliminating an essential concern for the new nation.

Constitutional Convention

1787

The Constitutional Convention is among the most important events in American history because it created the very government that has governed America for more than 200 years. Although it did not solve all of the nation's conflicts, it was a remarkable achievement that set the standards for the rest of history to follow.

Great Compromise

1787

The Great Compromise was essentially the resolution to the conflicts over slavery in terms of representation in that it established that each slave would count as three fifths of a person in regards to proportional representation. The situation as a whole represented the need for compromise within America, an important idea moving forward.

Constitution ratified

1787

When the Constitution was ratified, it marked the beginning of an entirely different government taking hold of a new nation. This document set precedents that have remained to present day and have provided the structure of all government policies over the last 200 years. However, the fact the New York and Virginia, two of the most populous states at the time, were among the last to ratify the Constitution showed popular discontent with the system,

Slavery issues/resolves

1787

The issues of slavery primarily revolved around the idea of representation and, therefore, resulted in a split between the Northern and southern states. thus, this conflict emphasized the differences between these two regions and foreshadowed future areas of conflict.

Virginia Plan

1787

The Virginia Plan, written by James Madison, was essentially the basis for debate during the Constitutional Convention and, therefore, established the structure and content of the Constitution itself.

New Jersey Plan

1787

The New Jersey Plan, written by William Paterson, favored the smaller states because it provided equal representation in a one-house legislature while still taking measures to strengthen the central government. This plan, although successful, foreshadowed conflicts between small and large states that were very important during and after the Constiutional Convention.

Bill of Rights

1791

Many states would not have ratified the Constitution without the promise of a Bill of Rights in order to protect individual rights and freedoms, revealing the fears of tyranny that were still present in early America.

Debate of the Constitution

Federalist

1788

Federalist, who were in support of the Constitution, generally favored the strong national government that was proposed, thus creating the base of ideals that would eventually form the Federalist party.

Federalist Papers #10

1788

This essay, written by Madison, presents the argument that the size of the republic within the United States would prevent tyranny due to the fact that it is made up of so many different factions, thus eliminating the idea that republic must be small if it is to avoid tyranny. This paper, therefore, was very important to the opinions held by the people of the Constitution.

Anti-Federalist

1788

Anti- Federalists created the main arguments against the ratification of the Constitution, primarily holding the views that the proposal produced a too powerful central government that resembled the tyranny of Great Britain. Their arguments fueled fears among the people and also created a separation from the Federalists that would eventually create the base for the Republican party.

Baron de Montesquieu

1788

Montesquieu's philosophies were used to support the perspective that the only way to avoid tyranny was to keep the government close to the people. This was among the most prevalent arguments against the Constitution, thus fueling debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

David Hume

1788

Madison used David Hume's philosophies in order to support his claim that a large republic would be less likely to produce tyranny because the extensive amounts of factions would prevent any single authority from emerging. Thus, Hume was influential in the Federalists argument in support of the Constitution.

James Madison

1788

Among Madison's extensive contributions to American history, among the most important is his essays within the Federalist Papers. These contributions were essential not only to the Federalist argument in favor of ratification but also to future understanding of the original intent of the Founding Fathers regarding how the Constitution should be interpreted.

The Federalist Papers

1788

The Federalist Papers were very important because they not only provided substantial arguments that contributed to the ratification of the Constitution, but also provided a specific interpretation of the original intent of the content of the Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton

"Report on Manufactures"

1790

Hamilton's "Report on Manufacturers" revealed the financial ideals embodied by America's primarily federalist government at that time, supporting domestic industry by encouraging manufacturing at the cost of the South. This inevitably created a further rift between the political parties through their regional affiliations.

Capital Compromise

1790

The Capital compromise was significant in that it showed both the necessity and ability of the political parties and different regions to compromise in order to obtain a greater goal. It was also very important to the economic future of America, as it allowed Hamilton's proposal to be passed.

War Bond Repayment

1790

War Bond Repayment was a very important issue after the Revolutionary War and caused much conflict involving the Confederation Congress. The inability of Congress to repay war bonds caused widespread frustration and, therefore, revealed the financial weaknesses of the government under the Articles of Confederation.

State Debt Repayment

1790

State Debt Repayment was a significant source of financial weakness for the government immediately after the Revolutionary War and contributed to the government's domestic debt. Thus, it was an important factor leading up to the necessity of a stronger central government.

Alexander Hamilton

1790

Hamilton was incredibly important throughout the Constitutional Era due to his widespread influence and his ideals. He not only made substantial arguments in favor of the Constitution as an author of the Federalist Papers, but also heavily influenced financial and foreign policies during the washington Administration as well as established the views held by the Federalist party.

Hamiltonian Ideals

1790

Hamilton essentially exhibited ideals aligned with a powerful, central government dominated by wealthy aristocrats. His views were significant because they, to some extent, represented the basis of the Federalist party.

National Bank

1791

The National Bank was significant because it was practically a necessity for america after the Revolutionary War, as it allowed the economy to grow and function. Meanwhile, it was also important because it was questionable in respect to Constitutionality, thus creating a split between political views that was critical to the formation of parties.

Foreign Relations

Citizen Genet Affair

1791

The Citizen Genet Affair brought the conflicts between America and France to the surface because America's response to Genet's efforts further established American neutrality and the refusal to ally with the French in their war with Britain.

Jay's Treaty

1794

Jay's Treaty hugely contributed to distinction and conflict between the views that would become parties since it was considered Federalist in its attempt to maintain neutrality, which was seen as favoring the British.

Pinckney's Treaty

1795

Pinckney's Treaty was successful in gaining nearly everything that America had sought from the Spanish, including the navigation of the Mississippi and the boundary of Florida, both of which were important territorial victories that continued to settle foreign disputes.

Treaty of Greenville

1795

The Treaty of Greenville effectively represented the relationship between Americans and Indians on the western frontier in that it established american dominance and provided the Indians with only weak protection from future westward expansion.

XYZ Affair

1797

Perhaps the most important effect of the XYZ Affair was that it created opposition to the French among the people and contributed to further conflict between the Federalists and the Republicans by providing a political attack on Adams: he was trying to hide something.

"quasi war"

1797

This "quasi war" not only resulted in significant conflicts regarding america's foreign relations, but also revealed issues involved with the ideal of neutrality as well as the separation of perspectives between the Federalists and the Republicans.

After Washington

Election 1796

1796

The election of 1796 was the first apparent time that two distinct parties were prevalent (Adams representing the Federalists and Jefferson representing the Democratic Republicans), yet neither were acknowledged as parties at the time of the election.

Republican ideals

1796

Republican ideals, which truly rose to the surface in the election of 1796, mainly involved the belief that power should be held by the common people, not the wealthy elite that were supported by the Federalists. Their strict interpretation of the Constitution led to many conflicts between the political parties.

Washington's Farewell Address

1796

Washington's Farewell Address was extremely important because it established Washington's perspective on the direction of the nation by denouncing political parties and supporting neutrality. The views that Washington presented in his address guided much of American policy and ideals of the near future.