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The Creation of The United States – Study Guide

compromise definition

I’m still working on this. More coming soon.

The following is a study guide for Early American History from the Causes of the Revolution to the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

Causes of the Revolution

Chronology ( Know the Order)

French & Indian War

The French and Indian War is essentially the cause of the American Revolutionary War. Great Britain had a lot of debt and was forced to find a way to pay it back.

Key People –

Proclamation of 1763

After the French and Indian War, England made a rule that American Colonists could not cross the Appalachian mountains into Indian Territory because England didn’t have the money to engage in another war with Native Americans.

Key People

Sugar Act

To stop the smuggling, England lowered its tax on sugar which allowed them to collect more revenue to pay for their debt from the French and Indian War. This angered colonists because they felt they were being forced to pay a tax.

Stamp Act

The Stamp Act was passed by British Parliament as a tax on items made of paper to help pay back the debt from the French and Indian War. This caused a lot of protest in the colonies because they felt they were being taxed without their permission. NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!

Key People

Quartering Acts

Because of the debt from the French and Indian War England couldn’t afford to house and feed soldiers in the colonies. The Quartering acts made it to where the colonist would house and feed them (quarter). Colonists protested after this because they felt it violated their privacy by having soldiers in their houses without a warrant.

Townshend Act – Watch Video

After the repeal of the Stamp Act, England was still in great debt. The Townshend act taxed imported goods from England such as glass, paint, lead,  and tea.

The Townshend Act lead to many more protests, boycotting and ultimately hurt the economy of the colonies.

Key People

Boston Massacre – Watch Video

Civillians in Boston were killed during a protest in Boston. Protesters were upset over lost jobs that were primarily caused by a slow economy from the Townshend Act.

Propaganda was the major effect. Paul Revere created the engraving called “Bloody Massacre” which created a lot of support against England.

Key People

Tea Act

To help the East India Tea company sell extra supplies of tea , England allowed them to sell directly to the colonies.

Many colonists saw this as an attempt to force colonists to pay the tea tax. Once again, NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION was a sentence shouted. Leads directly to the Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party – Watch Video

The Sons of Liberty dressed indians and boarded English ships filled with tea. They destroyed the tea crates and threw them overboard into Boston Harbor.

It was supposed to be an act of protest, but England saw it as an act of terrorism. The Coercive Acts were passed as a direct response to the Boston Tea Party.

Coercive (Intolerable Acts)

As a response to the Colonies for the Boston Tea Party, England passed a series of laws that punished them severely.

Quartering Soldiers again, Shutting down Boston Harbor, Suspending Assemblies, and allowing English Soldiers to go on trial for crimes in England instead of America.

American Revolution

Chronology ( Know the Order)

First Continental Congress

After England passed the Intolerable acts the colonist from all the colonies decided to have a meeting to discuss what they can do to repeal the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts.

They decided they would meet again the next year if the problems with England weren’t fixed.

Battles of Lexington & Concord (Watch Video)

Before they could meet again in the Second Continental Congress, war had broken out.

British troops marched from Boston towards Lexington & Concord to arrest Sam Adams and other local leaders. They were also going to Concord to capture their weapons.

Midnight ride by Paul Revere and others warned the they were coming. “The British are coming. The British are coming.”

This goes down as the first battle in the American Revolution and the Shot heard ’round the World.

Second Continental Congress

A month after the first battle Congress was set to meet again. This time in stead of discussing if things were better with England, they were meeting in a attempt to avoid war.

Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill)  – Watch Video

Shortly after the second continental Congress British troops and continental soldiers met outside of Boston on Breed’s Hill. Though the American lost, the British lost many troops.

This battle proved to the British that this war was not going to be quick or easy.

Olive Branch Petition – Watch Video

The Second Continental congress made a final attempt for peace and wrote a petition to the King asking to return everything to normal and avoid a costly war.

The King denied this request because of the recent battles. He viewed the war as having already begun and it being the Colonists fault.

Declaration of Independence – Watch Video

The Second Continental Congress asked Thomas Jefferson and a few others to start drafting a declaration of independence if the Olive Branch Petition didn’t work.

On July 4, 1776 Congress approved the final draft the Declaration of Independence which would signal the beginning of the United States of America.

Important Facts:

  • Thomas Jefferson (Primary writer)
  • Unalienable Rights (Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness)
  • John Locke (Jefferson borrowed some of his ideas)

Battle of Saratoga – Watch Video

British Troops were marching down from Canada to New York to divide the colonies, in order to weaken them. The two sides would meet in Saratoga and the American would win two decisive battles.

Known as the Turning Point of the War because Americans got a great victory and because after this battle France decided to join the war on the American side.

Valley Forge – Watch Video

At Valley Forge Washington and his troops would camp for the cold winter. Disease and hunger killed many of the troops.

This is the event where Washington’s men developed a great respect for him because he stayed behind to take care of his men. It boosted the morale of the troops and gave them a sense of purpose.

Battle of Yorktown – Watch Video

The final major battle of the American Revolution.

Washington surrounded Yorktown, Virginia on land while the French surrounded it by sea. They forced General Cornwallis to surrender, essentially ending the war.

Treaty of Paris 1783

In Paris, France, England and America discussed a treaty to end the war on good terms for all sides.

The treaty gave all land west of the Appalachians to the Mississippi River to America. It also gave them full independence recognized by England and France.

Constitutional Era

Articles of Confederation – Watch Video

The first constitution of America.

It showed the fear Americans had of a strong government. It was extremely weak. It had only one branch of government (Legislative Branch). No president, no courts. It couldn’t draft soldiers into an army, and many other weaknesses.

Northwest Ordinance – Watch Video

Out of all the bad things the Articles of Confederation are none for there is one positive. The Northwest Ordinance created a system for adding new states to the country.

Each new state must have a republican government and at least 60,000 citizens.

Shay’s Rebellion

Daniel Shays was a former soldier who fought to keep his property from being taken from him by the banks because he owed money. He had many followers that did the same thing and the government could not stop him.

This showed just how week the Article of Confederation truly were.

Constitutional Convention

Because of events like Shay’s Rebellion and other problems with the Articles of Confederation, the states decided to meet in 1787 to amend the Articles.

Instead of amending the articles they decided to write an entirely new constitution.

Principles of the Constitution ( FLIPRCS – Flip Rocks )

At the convention there were 7 main principles that they wanted to make sure went into the new constitution.

  • Federalism – Dividing power between Local/State/National Governments
  • Limited Government – No one is above the law, government has rules
  • Individual Rights – Guarantee natural rights to the people
  • Popular Sovereignty – The People are the ones with the Power
  • Republicanism – Voting for Representatives
  • Checks & Balances – 3 branches can check on each other to balance out
  • Separation of Powers – Powers of the Government are divided into 3 branches

Legislative Branch – Makes Laws

Executive Branch – Enforces Laws

Judicial Branch – Interprets Laws

Virginia Plan

At the Convention many idea were shared. Virginia’s plan was to create 2 house in the legislative branch and the number of votes each got was based on the population of the state.

This was fair for the people, but not fair for the states.

New Jersey Plan

New Jersey’s Plan was for one house in the legislative branch and the number of votes each state got would be equal: Just one vote each.

This was fair for states, but not fair for the people.

Great Compromise

Roger Sherman’s solution was to combine these two ideas with a Great Compromise. Today we have 2 houses in the legislative branch. The house of representatives where each state gets votes based on population and the senate, where each state is equal with two votes.

3/5 Compromise

Because one house was going to get votes based on population they needed to know how many people lived in each state. That meant they had to decide if you count all people, only free people, or part of slaves. They agreed to count 3/5 of all slaves.

Federalists vs Anti-Federalists

After the  Constitution was finally agreed on it was now sent to the states for Ratification. This created some debate.

Federalist liked the constitution the way it was. They felt it limited the government.

Anti-federalist would only sign it if they added a bill of rights to it to guarantee personal freedoms.

Bill of Rights

The first 1o amendments to the constitution that list our rights.

  1. Freedom of Speech, Religion, Press, Assembly, Petition
  2. Right to Bear Arms
  3. No Quartering of Troops
  4. Privacy amendment, No Search & Seizure without a warrant
  5. Due Process, Right to remain silent, Double Jeopardy
  6. Right to a Speedy Trial
  7. Trial by Jury
  8. No Cruel or unusual Punishment
  9. All rights not listed are guaranteed to the People
  10. Powers not listed are reserved for the states


Know all the order of all of the above items.


All of the following people played a role in the development of the United States:

  • Haym Solomon
    • Jewish Merchant that help fund the Revolution
  • Sam Adams
    • Leader of the Sons of Liberty
  • King George III
    • King of England
  • George Washington
    • Military Leader and President of the Constitutional Convention, later the President of the United States
  • Patrick Henry
    • A great speaker and Patriot known for his phrase “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death”
  • John Paul Jones
    • Known as the father of the American Navy and his quote, “I have not yet begun to fight.”
  • Paul Revere
    • Artist behind Boston Massacre engraving, Known falsely for his statement, “The British are coming. The British are coming.”
  • Abigail Adams
    • “Remember the ladies.” John Adams’ wife.
  • Thomas Jefferson
    • Known as the main author of the Declaration of Independence
  • Crispus Attucks
    • First person killed at the Boston Massacre.
  • Marquis de Lafayette
    • French man that helped George Washington during the American Revolution