Early American Republic

United States Leadership

Articles of Confederation

1781 - 1788

George Washington

April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797

John Adams

March 4, 1797 - March 4, 1801

Thomas Jefferson

March 4, 1801 - March 4, 1809

James Madison

March 4, 1809 - March 4, 1817

James Monroe

March 4, 1817 - March 4, 1825

John Quincy Adams

March 4, 1825 - March 4, 1829

Andrew Jackson

March 4, 1829 - March 4, 1837

United States

Shays' Rebellion

1786 - 1787

On January 25th, 1787 Daniel Shays and the Shayites attacked a federal arsenal at Springfield. In their attempt to take the armory, insurgents under Shays faced a private militia under Ben Lincoln; Massachusetts was divided east versus west.

Northwest Ordinance


The Northwest Ordinance was the greatest achievement of the Articles of Confederation. Before the ordinance there weren't any western borders and states were huge. The lands were used a state investments that they sold to help pay off debt. The Land Ordinance provided for the sale by Congress of these western lands. It also provided for territories to enter the union. New states would be able to come into the union with same rights as existing states, and western settlers would keep all their citizenship rights. It did not provide for Native American rights as Britain had done, even if it was without much force, and treated their land as if they were empty. In order to become a state a territory must have the same population as the smallest state in the union, write their own constitution and petition for statehood.

Ratification of the Constitution

September 17, 1787 - June 21, 1788

The constitution was released on September 17, 1787 with a 2 house legislature, a small state, big state compromise and was ratified by 1788, but not without the states making addendums of their own, most of them for a Bill of Rights. Because the federalists did not include a Bill of Rights, the Anti-Federalists won it after ratification. Washington became the first president, unanimously elected in 1789, and as soon as the 9th state, New Hampshire ratified it elections and the construction of the government took place. The Bill of Rights was added 1791.

Whiskey Excise Tax


The Whiskey Excise Tax was established to pay for states’ war debt and was Hamilton’s idea. His deal included a new capital that would be in South, in the District of Columbia and was signed in March of 1791. The Whiskey Tax was a “sin tax” on distilled beverages at between 7 to 12¢ per gallon. The tax was especially unfair to westerners who used whiskey as currency. The issue set off a serious popular insurrection. A significant number of the population did not like this tax. It was not only unfair, it was unenforceable; roads did not generally run that far west. To protest it, westerners used the ideals and the methods of the Revolutionary War. The tax quickly created animosity in the west that outlasted the rebellion.

Shays’ Rebellion occurred in 1786 and the resistance to the 1791Whiskey Excise spread throughout whole backcountry by 1793. Its participants were generally Antifederalists and many federalists were burned in effigy, including Hamilton and Jay, but never Washington. Revolutionary-style demonstrations appeared, and the revolt also tied to unhappiness with new Constitution. Protestors stopped the mail, closed courts, attacked tax collectors and refused to sit on juries. The federal government was too weak to enforce order in these areas. Once Pennsylvania rebels attacked a federal marshal, the state was declared in insurrection, but there was generally no ability for even the states to enforce the government either.

Bill of Rights Ratified


The First Congress was generally conservative. They met in April 1789, were mostly Federalist, and passed the Revenue Act of 1789 which created a 5% tariff on imports, a Proposed Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791, the Judiciary Act of 1789, and they accepted Washington’s right to set up his own Cabinet.

Post Office Act


Yellow Fever Epidemic


A Yellow Fever epidemic hits the capital in the summer and the fall. Generally America did not suffer from epidemics because its population was spread out, but at this point we were no longer immune and the capital shut down due to rampant sickness. “Deaths are now about 30 a day. It is in every square of the city. All flying who can. Most of the offices are shut or shutting. The banks shut up this day. Al my clerks have left me but one: so that I cannot go on with business.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 12 September 1793

Whiskey Rebellion

1793 - 1794

Jay Treaty


Americans problems with England continued even into our emergence as a country. They were seizing American ships in Caribbean, had not evacuated their US forts, and they refused commercial treaties and slave reimbursement. They never abided by the Treaty of Paris, breaking many of its stipulations and put many of our ships in unfamiliar waters because they closed our trade networks. To remedy this problem and avoid war Chief Justice John Jay was sent to England in 1794 to negotiate a trade treaty. This was an underground action; he was sent by George Washington on his executive authority, congress was not informed, and as he returned home the treaty was rumored to be a bad one, and those who spread the gossip were correct. The Jay Treaty of 1794, was more favorable to Britain than America, and gave them most favored nation status, but it averted a new war. It was secretly adopted but then published in a newspaper and became quickly unpopular. It put a dent in George Washington’s popularity as many believed he overstepped his authority as a president, and it was just a band-aid on the broken arm that would become the War of 1812.

Pinckney Treaty


By late 1794, Pennsylvania was exploding. Georgia was about to go to war with the Indians. George Rodgers Clark was taking law into own hands in Ohio valley. Charles Pinckney was finally sent to Spain and signed the Pinckney Treaty, alternately the Treaty of San Lorenzo, which was a renewable 3-year water rights treaty on the Mississippi River. It was a great treaty, allowing the Spanish to rent the Mississippi River and the port of New Orleans. At this point they needed our alliance, we were held hostage because we needed the use of the river, but they had a weak king, needed money and had no allies.

The XYZ Affair


The French were angered by Jay’s Treaty, which violated America’s Revolutionary War agreements with France. In response, French seized 300 American ships and to curb this, Adams sent a delegation to France. Our ships at this point were vulnerable, and this number taken by the French was a much larger total than all of our issues with the Barbary Nations combined. The delegation sent were approached by unofficial envoys of the foreign minister Talleyrand who demanded bribes to negotiate. The bribe price went as high as 21 million dollars and would have had the US use its credit to support France. This was a belligerent approach and the French threatened war and to use agents that they had placed in the US to overthrow the government from within and through press connections. “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!”

Alien & Sedition Acts


The Alien and Sedition acts were passed in the peak of Federalists’ popularity, during the Quasi-War. They were used to remove Democratic-Republicans from power but specifically exempted Jefferson. Adams changed the naturalization residency requirement from 5 to 14 years, as new immigrants supported Jefferson. The president received the power to deport troublemaking aliens. It was a crime to “defame” government. These acts were triggered by Democratic-Republican political clubs and went after printers and newspaper editors. As a response Madison and Jefferson penned the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, the beginning of the Nullification Debate.

Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions


As a response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, Madison and Jefferson penned the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, the beginning of the Nullification Debate.

Death of B.F. Bache and John Fenno


A second Yellow Fever epidemic swept through Philadelphia.

Quasi War

1798 - 1800

Although these threats were not said outright, they were implied and Adams released the correspondence in the newspaper for all Americans to read. This led to the US and France naval battles wherein American ships began to shoot back, the Quasi-War from 1798 to 1800. Jefferson looked foolish for his support of the French and Adams decided to build up the army. He requested the help of George Washington who appointed Hamilton as general; Adams worst nightmare. By the end of his presidency, Adams had reversed this decision and reduced the size of the army.

Washington's Death


Adams' 2nd Envoy to France


To defuse the overwhelming fear of war Adams' sent an envoy once again to negotiate with France.

War with Tripoli

1801 - 1805

From 1801 to 1805 Jefferson participated in the Tripolitan War, the U.S.’s first foreign war.

The George Washington was seized in 1800. In 1803 the Philadelphia captained by William Bainbridge was captured along with its crew of over 300 men, when he sailed it into the shoals and without waiting for the tide to recede, surrendered with all hands. In 1804 Stephen Decatur’s came in with a night raid and burned down the Philadelphia, and in 1805 Commander William Eaton’s attacked Derna and took it, the first foreign city to be captured by the US, although later it was returned in the peace treaty. All of these actions played as stands for republican virtues in the papers. In 1805 the U.S. and Tripoli made peace, and the US paid $60,000 for the return of its captives.

Louisiana Pruchase


In 1800 Spain gave Louisiana to France, but not without first closing her ports to us.

Napoleon had wanted a Caribbean Empire, by his plan was foiled by the Haitian Revolution of 1800. His attack on Haiti had failed, by 1800 they had become a Black Republic and Napoleon has his sights on the Caribbean Jewel. He sent 90,000 soldiers to retake Haiti and the majority of them died from Yellow Fever. At this point, due to the failure, Haiti became unreachable and Louisiana became useless to Napoleon.

In 1802 U.S. access to New Orleans was revoked and a series of representatives were sent to negotiate for the port’s purchase. They got more than they bargained for when Napoleon, in his great need for the cash, offered Louisiana to Jefferson for 15 million dollars, a mere 13¢ an acre and Jefferson was forced to purchase the land on his own authority going against his stated views of government; he didn't think he had the executive power to make the purchase, but the deal was too good to pass up and it doubled the size of the country which was good for Jefferson’s agrarian ideas.

Marbury Vs. Madison


The Marbury versus Madison case came about over midnight appointments made by Adams, which Jefferson’s administration refused to recognize. At the end of everything, the issue was unimportant, but the case established judicial review and the power of the Supreme Court, as final judge of congressional laws. The Supreme Court was given the power to judge federal and state laws “unconstitutional.” In doing this it nullified the Judiciary Act of 1789 because that act violated the checks and balances put into place by the constitution. This would come up again later with the Nullification Crisis that the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions had brought to light. Although the Alien and Sedition acts had come and were disposed of, the resolutions that followed challenged this new judiciary system with shouts of States’ Rights.

12th Amendment


Embargo of 1807


In 1807 the HMS Leopard fired on the USS Chesapeake, as they were both warships, this was an act of war, and very close to US waters. In response, as Jefferson still didn’t want to go to war, he enacted the Embargo Act that banned Americans vessels from foreign ports, to protect them. Unfortunately, the Embargo hurt America worse than England would have and was a bad political mistake. It ruined the economic prosperity that Jefferson’s time in office had enjoyed and created greater hostility between us and other foreign nations and between him and Federalists. He also stopped some land trading with Britain in Canada.


French Revolution

1789 - 1799

Storming of the Bastille

July 14, 1789

Rights of Men and Citizens

August 1789

Legislative Assembly


The Rights of Men and Citizens were ratified in August of 1789. It was a new set of laws coming from pure idealism and enlightenment similar to the declaration of independence. Louis XVI stalled and would not work with the National Assembly. From 1791to 1792 they became the Legislative Assembly. Louis was trying to raise foreign armies to put down the insurrections and the Legislative Assembly had declared war on every monarchy around them and was facing civil wars within the provinces as well.

Haitian Revolution

1791 - 1804

France Declares War


The Legislative Assembly had declared war on every monarchy around them and was facing civil wars within the provinces as well.

In 1792 France was in all out war, and there was an attack on prisons. The attacked murdered everyone in the prisons, creating a death toll much higher than any count of the use of guillotines. This was the loss of all control.

War with Britain

1792 - 1815

British and French warfare lasted continuously from 1792 through 1815.

Louis VXI is Killed (The Terror)

January 1793 - 1794

In January 1793 the king was killed, and the queen’s death followed only 8 months later. 1793 to 1794 was known as the Reign of Terror; led by Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety.


August 1794

August of 1794 was Thermidore, the counter-revolution. At this point France was still at war and still losing and was still engaged in civil war in the majority of the 19 provinces. By this time America was giving France less and less support and their government had become unstable and shadowy.

The Rise of Napoleon

1799 - 1800

1799 brought the emergence of Napoleon. He was a byproduct of the Revolution and rose through the ranks of its military though the merit system. He returned France to “Absolute Monarchy.” The following year, 1800, he was known as Emperor Napoleon. He continued all of the wars that Republic France had declared and won them all, creating an empire.


George III

1780 - 1820

War with France

1792 - 1815

British and French warfare lasted continuously from 1792 through 1815.

Orders in Coucil


Britain was at this point interfering with American-French shipping by hovering off the US coast and seizing ships and men. They had passed increasingly restrictive Orders in Council making it necessary for the US to ask for permission from Britain to trade with France. When we did not listen to their advice, they reacted by impressing our ships and taking prisoners. (Although they had been practicing these actions for many years.) They were under increasing pressure, because they were losing the war in Europe against Napoleon and France.

George VI

1820 - 1830

Barbary Nations

Seizure of the Betsy, Maria & the Dauphin


In 1784 Morocco seized the Betsey while Algiers seized the Maria and the Dauphin. Sea insurance rates skyrocketed.

Payment of Tribute


In 1795 the U.S. agreed to pay Algiers about 9 million dollars, over 20 percent of the annual budget and Tunis and Tripoli received tribute arrangements as well.

Seizure of the George Washington


In 1800 Algiers forces the U.S. warship George Washington to convey Algiers’ tribute to Istanbul.

War with Tripoli

1801 - 1805

From 1801 to 1805 Jefferson participated in the Tripolitan War, the U.S.’s first foreign war.

Capture of the Philadelphia


In 1803 the U.S. warship Philadelphia was captured off the coast of Tripoli. Its captain, Ray and 300 men were captured.

Stephen Decatur & The Philadelphia


In 1804 the Decatur’s night raid destroyed the Philadelphia.

William Eaton & Derna


In 1805 Commander Eaton’s attacked Derna, the first foreign city taken by U.S. flag although it was later returned by treaty. That same year the U.S. & Tripoli made peace and the U.S. paid $60,000 for its captives.

Algiers Declares War


In 1807 Algiers declared war on the U.S.

The Embargo & Barbary


In 1808 Jefferson’s Embargo stopped trade, including Mediterranean Sea traffic.

War of 1812 & Algiers


In 1812 during the War of 1812, Algiers, an ally of Britain, also declared war on the U.S.

Hostage Release


In 1815 we signed a treaty with Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, releasing the last of the hostages.