Unit Three Building the New Nation
1. The Articles of Confederation, the first government set up after the American Revolution, was structured out of fear of a too-strong government. Therefore, the Articles were very weak on purpose.
2. Two things showed the Articles as being too weak to the point of being sterile: (a) it could not regulate commerce and the money situation was growing dim fast and (b) Shays’ Rebellion frightened many to the possibility that mobs might just take over and the government might be too weak to stop them. Due to these reasons, the Constitutional Convention was held.
3. The Constitution was written as something of a balancing act between strengthening the government, yet making sure it doesn’t get too strong to take over. The resulting government was indeed stronger, but also a system of checks and balances were put into place to ensure no one branch becomes like the king had been.
4. After some negotiating, mostly with the promise of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution was ratified.
5. Alexander Hamilton, get the U.S. on a solid foothold. With the Bill of Rights quickly ratified, the top problem the new nation faced was financial in nature.
6. Secretary of State Alexander Hamilton developed a plan that included (a) starting a national tariff, (b) starting a tax on whiskey, (c) setting up a national bank, and (d) paying off the national debt.
7. Politics quickly fell into two camps: (a) those who followed Thomas Jefferson became the “Democratic-Republicans” and (b) those who followed Alexander Hamilton became the “Federalists.”
8. Turmoil broke out Europe with the French Revolution, mostly between England and France. The U.S. nearly got sucked into European issues, but both Washington and John Adams kept the America out of war. This was best for the U.S.
9. Jefferson’s election was considered a “revolution” because he represented the common people for the first time.
10. Troubles in North Africa and between England and France emerged. Jefferson’s actions were sluggish.
11. Trying to again avoid war with England or France, Jefferson bumbled around with an embargo. His theory was that the only way to avoid war was to stop interaction between U.S. ships and Europe. The overall effect was to kill U.S. trade and enrage the merchants and businessmen up North.
12. The Louisiana Purchase came as a complete surprise and quickly doubled the size of the U.S.
13. James Madison picked up where Jefferson left off with the embargo in trying to avoid war. But, young western Congressmen wanted war to possibly gain new land, to squelch Indian troubles, and defend the “free seas.” They declared the War of 1812 with England.
14. The U.S. vs. England fighting had a few themes: (a) U.S. lost in Canada, (b) U.S. surprisingly won at sea, (c) the two split in the Chesapeake, and (d) the U.S. won the big battle at New Orleans.
15. The war was not universally supported. Mostly, the North opposed the war since it was bad for trade. The South and West generally favored the war.
16. After the war, the U.S. could focus on herself, as with the “American System” to build up the economy.
17. In terms of expansion, a few things happened: (a) the Missouri Compromise drew an East-West line to separate slave and free states, (b) Oregon and Florida became American lands, and (c) the Monroe Doctrine warned Europe to “stay away!”