🚀 Thematic Guides
Theme 1 (NAT) - American and National Identity
Theme 2 (WXT) - Work, Exchange, and Technology
Theme 3 (GEO) - Geography and The Environment
Theme 4 (MIG) - Migration and Settlement
Theme 5 (PCE) - Politics and Power
Theme 7 (ARC) - American and Regional Culture
Theme 8 (SOC): Social Structures
🌽 Unit 1: 1491-1607
1.1Context: European Encounters in the Americas
1.6Cultural Interactions Between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans
🦃 Unit 2: 1607-1754
2.0Unit 2 Overview: Contextualization
2.3The Regions of the British Colonies
2.5Interactions between Native Americans and Europeans
2.6Slavery in the Colonies
🔫 Unit 3: 1754-1800
3.6The Influence of Revolutionary Ideals
3.10Shaping a New Republic
🐎 Unit 4: 1800-1848
4.2The Rise of Political Parties and the Era of Jefferson
4.3Politics and Regional Interests
4.8Jackson and Federal Power
4.9The Development of an American Culture
4.10The Second Great Awakening
4.11the age of reform
4.12African Americans in the Early Republic
💣 Unit 5: 1844-1877
5.5Sectional Conflict: Regional Differences
5.6Failure of Compromise
5.7Election of 1860 and Secession
5.9Government Policies during the Civil War
🚂 Unit 6: 1865-1898
6.2Westward Expansion: Economic Development
6.3Westward Expansion Social and Cultural Development
6.6The Rise of Industrial Capitalism
6.7Labor in the Gilded Age
6.9Responses to Immigration
🌎 Unit 7: 1890-1945
7.0Unit 7 Overview: Contextualization
7.3The Spanish-American War
7.5World War I: Military and Diplomacy
7.6World War I: Home Front
7.81920s: Cultural and Political Controversies
7.9The Great Depression
7.10The New Deal
7.11Interwar Foreign Policy
7.12World War II: Mobilization
🥶 Unit 8: 1945-1980
8.2The Cold War from 1945-1980
8.3The Red Scare
8.4Economy after 1945
8.6Early Steps in the Civil Rights Movement
8.7America as a World Power
8.8The Vietnam War
8.10The African American Civil Rights Movement
8.11The Expansion of the Civil Rights Movement
📲 Unit 9: 1980-Present
9.0Unit 9 Overview: Contextualization
9.2Reagan and Conservatism
9.3The End of the Cold War
9.6Challenges of the 21st Century
🧐 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
📋 Short Answer Questions (SAQ)
⏱️ 2 min read
September 18, 2020
So what kind of laws did the U.S. have before the Constitution? After declaring independence from Britain, the Second Continental Congress asked each state to create its own state constitution. The states would write laws that reflected the new ideas of democracy.
The new written laws would include bills of rights, and yearly elections of legislators and weak executive branches. Massachusetts drafted their constitution and then submitted it to the people for ratification. This would later be copied in ratifying the national Constitution.
Just before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, a committee from the Second Continental Congress wrote a set of laws called the Articles of Confederation. This confederation was a loose union of the thirteen colonies. There were several weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation:
There was no executive branch of government, reflecting colonial suspicions of tyranny and federal authority.
The Articles had no power to tax or regulate commerce.
All states had to agree on amendments.
There was no judiciary.
🎥Watch: AP US History - Articles of Confederation
America did not have a stable federal government to control commerce or deal with foreign nations. The Articles were not strong enough to manage the new country, which meant a new set of laws were needed.
The weak economy was a further problem. States were arguing over tariff rates and whether they should charge each other. Debtors did not like the policies of the government.
One positive aspect of the Articles of Confederation was that Congress placed newly acquired western lands under its control for the benefit of all states. The Land Ordinance Act of 1785 allowed the federal government to sell western lands to pay off the national debt and organize these new lands into townships and public schools. Later, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided that when a new territory reached a population of 60,000, it could then apply for statehood with no slavery allowed. This ordinance is considered the one successful act under the Articles of Confederation.
Daniel Shays became a divisive figure, to some a violent rebel seeking to upend the new American government, to others an upholder of the true revolutionary virtues Shays and others fought for. This contemporary depiction of Shays and his accomplice Job Shattuck portrays them in the latter light as rising “illustrious from the Jail.” Unidentified artist, Daniel Shays and Job Shattuck, 1787. Wikimedia.
In 1786, a revolt happened in Massachusetts called Shays' Rebellion. Daniel Shays led other angry farmers and disgruntled Revolutionary War veterans in a fight against a small army from the state. The state army crushed the rebellion, but many property owners were afraid of potential anarchy and these violent debtors. Essentially, this was the straw that broke the camels back, showing the weakness of Articles of the Confederation and the need for something different.
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