(Study Guide with Gitelson Ch.2 Pages in Red)



A.    1776

Thirteen British colonies in North America declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776.  The Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on July 4, 1776.  Thomas Jefferson drafted it.  Fifty-six men, including Benjamin Franklin, representing the newly created United States of America were the document's signers.  After War for Independence, also know as the Revolutionary War, began in 1776, the founding fathers of the new nation wanted to establish a government.  They created documents to link the thirteen states for joint action to deal with common problems.  Drafting the Articles of Confederation begins in 1776.  It began to tie thirteen states into an alliance, called a confederation.  Though not without flaws, the Articles of Confederation served to keep the new country united during the Revolutionary War and after.


A1.      What date did the thirteen colonies declare for independence and declare war on Great Britain? (G 34)

A2.      Who drafted the Declaration of Independence? (G 25)

A3.      What document did Thomas Jefferson draft in 1776? (G 25)

A4.      What was the name of the war that gave the thirteen colonies independence?

A5.      When did the American Revolution (Revolutionary War) begin?

A6.      When was the drafting of the Articles of Confederation begun? (G 27)

A7.      What document was the first constitution of the United States and linked the former colonies during and after the Revolutionary War? (G 27)




B.    AFTER 1776 AND BEFORE 1789

The Articles of Confederation are ratified in 1781.  Under this document, John Hanson of Maryland became the first president of the United States.  The Federalists, such as James Madison, wanted a strong central government.  Anti-Federalist, such as Thomas Jefferson, opposed a strong central government.  Congress instructed the states that the Articles of Confederation be revised.


The Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia in 1781.  George Washington was selected as president of the Constitutional Convention.  James Madison mainly wrote the U.S. Constitution.  One feature of the Constitution is the Principle of Separation of Powers.  Through this separation, each branch works according to its own authority, forming a check or balance against any abuse of power by the remaining branches.  The Constitution also defines the principle of federalism- the relationship between states and the federal government.  Ratification of the Constitution was a difficult process and would require popular support.  The purpose of the Federalist Papers was to gain popular support for the then-proposed Constitution.  James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay created them.  They used the pen name, Publius.



B1.       What was the first constitution of the U.S.? (G 27)

B2.       When did the Articles of Confederation officially become America's first constitution? (G 27)

B3.       Who was the first president of the U.S. under this constitution?

B4.       What is the difference between Federalists and Anti-Federalists, and who represented each group? (G 25)

B5.       Who was the head of the Constitutional Convention that was called to revise the Articles of Confederation? (G 29)

B6.       Where was the Constitutional Convention held? (G 28)

B7.       What was the result of the meetings?

B8.       Who is known as the "Father of the Constitution" and mainly wrote it? (G 25)

B9.       What is the principle of separation of powers? (G 53)

B10.     What is federalism? (G 37)

B11.     What was the purpose of the Federalist Papers? (G 52)

B12.     What did Madison, Hamilton, and Jay create to help gain support for the new    Constitution? (G 52)

B13.     What was their pen name?




C.    1789

Ratification of the U.S. Constitution meant it would be the supreme law of the land.  This means it takes power over all state laws.  It guaranteed a firm union of people, a strong central government and a balance of representation of each state in Congress.  George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States under it.  The Constitution became effective in 1789.  It was understood by all states that the Constitution would soon be amended.  But ratification of the Constitution was not an easy process.  Not all states ratified the Constitution at the same time.


Example:  the state of Rhode Island did not send representatives to the Constitutional Convention.  It did not ratify the U.S. Constitution until 1790, and was not part of the United States when twelve of the thirteen states ratified it by 1789.  Rhode Island became part of the United States after it ratified the Constitution.


The first ten amendments to the Constitution are popularly known as the Bill of Rights.  James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights (and later amendments) in 1789.  Anti-Federalists were pleased with the Bill of Rights introduced to Congress because they favored guarantees of individual rights.



C1.      What year did the new U.S. Constitution become effective? 

C2.      Who became the president of the U.S. under the new Constitution?

C3.      Did all states ratify the new laws immediately?

C4.      What is meant by the phrase "supreme law of the land?" (G 43)

C5.      What are the first ten amendments to the Constitution also known as? (G 42)

C6.      Who wrote the Bill of Rights? (G 42)

C7.      What did the Bill of Rights guarantee? (G 42)


D.    AFTER 1789

The Bill of Rights was ratified by all states after 1789.  It safeguards some of the most precious American principles, which includes protections for freedom of religion, speech, and the press.  It is the foundation of civil rights and civil liberties.  It became effective two years after it was drafted and introduced to Congress.  Today, there are twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution.


D1.      What was the purpose of the Bill of Rights? (G 42)

D2.      When did they become effective? (G 43F)

D3.      What does the Bill of Rights give to U.S. citizens? (G 42)

D4.      How many amendments to the Constitution are there today? (G 47F)