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An American Nation is Born

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Presentation on theme: "An American Nation is Born"— Presentation transcript:

1 An American Nation is Born
Presentation created by Robert Martinez Primary Content Source: Prentice Hall World History Images as cited.

2 By 1750, a string of 13 prosperous colonies stretched along the eastern coast of North America. They were part of Britain’s growing empire.

3 Colonial cities such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were busy commercial centers that linked North America to the West Indies, Africa, and Europe. Colonial shipyards produced many vessels used in that global trade.

4 Britain applied mercantilist policies to its colonies
Britain applied mercantilist policies to its colonies. In the 1600s, Parliament had passed the Navigation Acts to regulate colonial trade and manufacturing. For the most part, these acts were not enforced.


6 Smuggling was common and was not considered a crime by the colonists
Smuggling was common and was not considered a crime by the colonists. Even prominent colonists might gain part of their wealth from smuggled goods.

7 By the mid-1700s, the colonies were home to diverse religious and ethnic groups. Social distinctions were more blurred than in Europe, although government and society were dominated by wealthy landowners and merchants.

8 In politics, there was a good deal of free discussion
In politics, there was a good deal of free discussion. Colonists felt entitled to the rights of English citizens, and their colonial assemblies exercised much control over local affairs.

9 After 1763, relations between Britain and the 13 colonies grew strained. The Seven Years’ War and the French and Indian War in North America had drained the British treasury.

10 King George III and his advisers thought that the colonists should help pay for the war and for troops still stationed along the frontier. Parliament did repeal some of the hated measures, such as a tax on all paper, but in general, it asserted its right to impose taxes on the colonies.

11 A series of violent clashes intensified the crisis
A series of violent clashes intensified the crisis. In March 1770, British soldiers in Boston opened fire on a crowd that was pelting them with stones and snowballs. Colonists called the death of five protesters the “Boston Massacre.”

12 In December 1773, a handful of colonists hurled a cargo of recently arrived British tea into the harbor to protest a tax on tea. The incident became known as the Boston Tea Party. When Parliament passed harsh laws to punish Massachusetts for the destruction of the tea, other colonies rallied to oppose the British response.

13 As tensions increased, fighting spread, representatives from each colony gathered in Philadelphia. There, they met in a Continental Congress to decide what action to take.

14 Carpenter Hall Site of the First Continental Congress
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Site of the First Continental Congress Team Martinez Personal Photograph Collection

15 Among the participants were the radical yet fair-minded Massachusetts lawyer John Adams, who had defended at trial the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre; Virginia planter and soldier George Washington; and political and social leaders from all 13 colonies.

16 The Congress set up a Continental Army, with George Washington in command. In April 1775, the crisis exploded into war. Although many battles ended in British victories, they showed that the Patriots were determined to fight at any cost.

17 In 1776, the Second Continental Congress took a momentous step, voting to declare independence from Britain. Thomas Jefferson of Virginia was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, a document that reflects the ideas of John Locke.

18 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Independence Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Team Martinez Personal Photograph Collection

19 Team Martinez Personal Photograph Collection

20 The Declaration claimed that people had the right “to alter or to abolish” unjust governments – a right to revolt. It also emphasized the principle of popular sovereignty, which states that all government power comes from the people.

21 Jefferson carefully detailed the colonist’s grievances against Britain
Jefferson carefully detailed the colonist’s grievances against Britain. Because the king had trampled colonist’s natural rights, he argued, the colonists had the right to rebel and set up a new government that would protect them.

22 Aware of the risks involved, on July 4, 1776, American leaders adopted the Declaration, pledging “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to creating and protecting the new United States of America.

23 At first, the American cause looked bleak
At first, the American cause looked bleak. The British had professional soldiers, a huge fleet, and plentiful money. They occupied most major American cities. Also, about one third of the colonists were Loyalists, who supported Britain.

24 The Continental Congress had few military resources and littler money to pay its soldiers. Still, colonists battling for independence had some advantages. They were fighting on their own soil for their farms and towns. Although the British held New York and Philadelphia, rebels controlled the countryside.

25 To counteract these advantages, the British worked to create alliances within the colonies. A number of Native American groups sided with the British, while others saw potential advantages in supporting the Patriot cause. Additionally, the British offered freedom to any enslaved people who were willing to fight the colonists.

26 A turning point in the war came in 1777, when the Americans triumphed over the British at the Battle of Saratoga. This victory persuaded France to join the Americans against its old rival, Britain.

27 The alliance brought the Americans desperately needed supplies, trained soldiers, and French warships. Spurred by the French example, the Netherlands and Spain added their support.

28 In the brutal winter of , Continental troops at Valley Forge suffered from cold, hunger, and disease. Throughout this crisis and others, Washington proved a patient, courageous, and determined leader able to hold the ragged army together.

29 Finally in 1781, with the help of the French fleet, which blockaded the Chesapeake Bay, Washington forced the surrender of a British army at Yorktown, Virginia. With that defeat, the British war effort crumbled.


31 Two years later, American, British, and French diplomats signed the Treaty of Paris ending the war. In that treaty, Britain recognized the independence of the United States of America. It also accepted the new nation’s western frontier as the Mississippi River.

32 The national government set up by a document that Americans called the Articles of Confederation was too weak to rule the new United States effectively. To address this problem, the nation’s leaders gathered once more in Philadelphia.

33 During the hot summer of 1787, they met in secret to hammer out the Constitution of the United States. This framework for a strong yet flexible government has adapted to changing conditions for more than 200 years.

34 The framers of the Constitution had absorbed the ideas of Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. They saw government in terms of a social contract into which “We the People of the United States” entered. John Locke

35 They provided not only for an elective legislature but also for an elected president rather than a hereditary monarch. For the first president, voters would choose George Washington, who had led the army during the war.

36 The Constitution created a federal republic, with power divided between the federal government and the states. The federal government included a separation of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, an idea borrowed from Montesquieu. Each branch of government was provided with checks and balances.

37 The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, recognized the idea that people had basic rights that the government must protect. These rights included freedom of religion, speech, and the press, as well as the rights to trial by jury and to private property.

38 In 1789, the Constitution became the supreme law of the land
In 1789, the Constitution became the supreme law of the land. It set up a representative government with an elected legislature to reflect the wishes of the governed. Yet most Americans at the time did not have the right to vote.

39 Only white men who were able to meet certain property requirements could vote. Women could not cast a ballot, nor could African Americas – enslaved or free – or Native Americans. It would take more than a century of struggle before the right to vote and equal protection under the law were extended to all adult Americans.

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