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The American Revolution
 Describe America’s colonies in the late 1700s.
 List events that led to the American Revolution.
 Explain the Enlightenment’s influence on American
 The Enlightenment ideas inspired the American
Revolution and the new government that followed it.
 Voltaire thought England’s government was the most
progressive in Europe.
 Remember The Glorious Revolution of 1688 was
the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
 The colonies thought the English were tyrannical and
wanted to separate and start a new nation.
 The colonies were developing an identity and prosperity.
The colonists had been occupying the North American
shores for 150 years.
 The 13 colonies had its own self government based on
limited government. Nationalism was growing and many
did not see themselves as British. Still they were British
subjects and had to obey the laws.
 In 1651 the British Parliament passed a trade law known as
the Navigation Act. This limited trade to only Britain and
the other European countries. Colonists had to pay high
taxes on imported French and Dutch goods. Britain did buy
colonists raw materials for low prices and sold finished
products to the colonies.
 During the 1600s and 1700s the British colonies had
been self governing along the Atlantic coastline in
North America.
 King George III assumed the throne in Great Britain in
 The population of the colonies had grown from 250,00
in 1700 to 2,150,00 in 1770.
 The colonies economically survived by trading with
the countries of Europe.
 1754: War was waging in North America between the
British and the French. The French had established
themselves in parts of North America. The war was known
as the French and Indian War– Note: the war received its
name from the native Indians who fought with the French.
 1763: the war ended with the British and the colonies
defeating the French and seizing almost all French land in
North America.
 The French and Indian War cost Britain a large amount of
money and debt. The colonists would benefit from the win
and the British expected the colonists to contribute to
paying for the costs of the war.
 1765: Stamp Act-passed by Parliament in which
colonists would pay a tax to place a stamp on all print
and paper goods. This of course angered the colonists
who had never paid a direct tax to the British. The
colonists argued that the tax was against their natural
rights. (John Locke) “taxation without representation.”
The British had representation in Parliament, the
colonists on the other hand argued that they did not
have representation and could not be taxed.
 Growing Hostility Leads to War: The colonists were
supporting independence from the British.
 1773: The colonists protested the import tax on tea. A
group of colonists dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. This
event became known as the “Boston Tea Party.” King
George the III was so angry he ordered the British navy to
close the harbor of Boston.
 September, 1774: First Continental Congress –all the
colonies except Georgia met in Philadelphia, PA. At this
meeting the colonists wrote down their grievances against
the British . The king did not pay any attention to the
colonists demands.
 Second Continental Congress: Met to discuss what
would be the colonists next move.
 April 19, 1775: Lexington, Massachusetts gunfire was exchanged
between British and American which spread to Concord. The
Second Continental Congress had to make some decisions , the
group chose to raise an army and chose the Virginian George
Washington to lead the revolution.
 The Influence of the Enlightenment:
 July 1776: Second Continental Congress delivered the
Declaration of Independence, the document was written by
Thomas Jefferson. The document was based on the ideas of John
Locke-natural rights. Locke discussed that people had the right
to rebel against an unjust ruler. The Declaration of
Independence listed the abuses of George III. In the end the
document discusses the separation from Britain.
 In the beginning Britain was not going to allow the
colonists to separate without a fight. After the Declaration
of Independence was published both sides went to war.
 At first glimpse the colonists looked disorganized against
the most powerful military in the world.
 Reasons for the colonies success:
 1. Colonists motivation for fighting was stronger than the
 2. The British generals were overconfident and has made
several mistakes.
 3. Time was on the side of the Colonists. This was an
expensive was to fight for the British.
 4. Colonists did not fight alone. Louis XVI did not believe in
the American Revolution, but wanted to weaken Britain.
 1781: The French and Americans combined forces and
defeated Lord Cornwallis near Yorktown, Virginia.
Americans won their independence.
 Americans Create a Republic:
 1781: Articles of Confederation was the first plan of
government. This would allow citizens rule
through elected representatives.
A Weak National Government: Created a loose
confederation of the 13 states. The Articles of
Confederation created a weak national government.
There were no executive or judicial branches just a
legislative branch.
In the Congress:
 A. each state regardless of size, received one vote in
B. Could declare war
C. enter into treaties
D. Coin money
E. No power to collect taxes or regulate trade
F. New laws difficult to pass laws needed the approval of
the 9 of the 13 states
 Limits on the national government soon became a
The new national government needed money to
operate. They could request contributions from the
American Revolutionary veterans complained
Congress owed them back pay for their services.
States were issuing their own money.
Some of the states tariffs (tax) on goods from
neighboring states.
 February, 1787: Congress approved a Constitutional
Convention to revise the Articles of Confederation.
 May 25, 1787: Constitutional Convention had their first
session. 55 delegates were experienced statesmen
familiar with the political theories of Locke,
Montesquieu, and Rousseau. The delegates debated
for four months over new approaches to governing.
 The Federal System: the delegates were concerned over a
strong powerful central government controlled by one
person or group. Three separate branches were
established- Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. Checks
and balances system-each branch checking the other
 Federal System: power was divided between national
and state governments.
The Bill of Rights:
September 17, 1787: the delegates signed the new
9 of the 13 states needed to have approval. The states
had huge debates.
Federalists: Supporters of the Constitution. They wrote
the Federalist Papers stating the new government would
be a balance between national and state powers.
Antifederalists: felt the Constitution gave the central
government too much power. They also wanted a bill of
rights which protected the rights of the individual citizens.
 Bill of Rights: Congress formally added to the
Constitution the ten amendments. The amendments
protected basic rights as freedom of speech, press,
assembly, and religion. Remember these rights were
supported by Voltaire, Rousseau, and Locke.
 The Constitution and the Bill of Rights: both of
these documents put the Enlightenment ideas into

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