Early America

Constitutional Foundations (1500-1787)  

Main Ideas:

1.      American democracy was designed using many historical models

2.      Sectionalism caused conflicts during the writing of the Constitution and many compromises were necessary

3.      Democracy is a work in progress

Material Covered:

1.      European Enlightenment Thought

a.       Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau

b.      Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, English Bill of Rights, Glorious Revolution

2.      The peoples and peopling of the American Colonies

a.       Native Americans

                                                                           i.      Concepts of land ownership, trade, alliances, forced labor, warfare

                                                                         ii.      Iroquois Confederacy

b.      Slave trade: democracy denied

c.       Immigrant groups: motivation, democratic ideas

3.      Colonial Experience: political rights v. mercantile restrictions

a.       Colonial Charters and Self-government: House of Burgesses, Mayflower Compact, town meetings, Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, Toleration Act, property rights, Zenger Trial,  Albany Plan of Union

b.      Mercantile Laws and Salutary neglect

c.       French & Indian War: causes, combatants, results

d.      Rights, responsibilities, and restrictions of colonial Englishmen; quartering troops, taxes, writs of assistance

4.      Revolutionary War

a.       Political and economic causes

b.      Revolutionary Ideology: The Declaration of Independence

                                                                           i.      Author: Jefferson

                                                                         ii.      Theory of Government: natural rights, republican principles, contract theory

c.       Revolutionary leaders: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington,    John Adams, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry

d.      Role of African-Americans in the Revolution & growth of free black population

5.      Articles of Confederation: The Critical Period

a.       Structure and distribution of Power

b.      Strengths: concluding the Revolution. Land Ordinance of 1785, Northwest Ordinance

c.       Weaknesses and correcting of weaknesses in the Constitution