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--On April 30, 1789 George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the
United States. John Adams became vice president. Washington was aware of the difficulties he
faced as the first president. He knew that the precedents, or traditions, he established as the
nation’s first president would shape the future of the U.S.
--in 1789 Congress set up departments in the executive branch to help the president. The State
Department (handles relations with other nations), Treasury Department (deal with financial
matters), and the War Department (provide for nation’s defense). Thomas Jefferson was
Secretary of State, Alexander Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury, and Henry Knox was
Secretary of War. They became known as the cabinet.
--Court system: to clarify the Constitution, Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789. It
established a federal court system with 13 district courts and 3 circuit courts in the nation. State
laws would remain, but federal courts would have the power to reverse state decisions. In the
Supreme Court, President Washington appointed John Jay as the chief justice.
--Financial problems: the new nation faced serious financial problems. The national debt was
growing. It was up to Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury to fix this problem.
Hamilton’s plan was that new government pay off the millions of dollars in debts owed to other
countries and to individual American citizens. The federal government would assume each
individual state’s debt and then pay it off. Many southerners didn’t like this plan because the
south accumulated much less debt than the north. Southern states complained that they would
have to pay more than their share under Hamilton’s plan. In order for his plan to be approved,
Hamilton promised the south that he would move the nation’s capital to the south if they were to
agree with his plan. They agreed, and so the nation’s capital became Washington, D.C.
--to build a strong national economy, Hamilton asked Congress to create a national bank, the
Bank of the United States. Washington agreed and signed the bill. Madison and Jefferson
opposed this idea. They felt it was unconstitutional, and that Congress didn’t have the right.
--Lastly, Hamilton proposed a tariff (a tax on imports) to encourage people to buy American
products. He believed this would help make America’s economy stronger. He also proposed
other national taxes. Congress approved all of these.
--One of Hamilton’s taxes was a Whiskey Tax: farmers had to pay this tax on the whiskey they
made from surplus corn. When the government enforced this and hired tax collectors, the
farmers grabbed weapons and attacked the tax collectors and burned down buildings. The armed
protest was called the Whiskey Rebellion and alarmed the government. President Washington
personally led an army of 13,000 soldiers to crush the rebellion. It collapsed as soon as the army
arrived. This was very important for the government because it showed the citizens that you
can’t just violently protest whenever you want. The government WILL take action. (strong govt)
--The Native Americans across the Appalachian Mountains denied that the U.S. had any
authority over them. More Americans began moving west and were settling into “Indian land”.
The British were allies with these Native Americans and they would provoke the Natives to
attack American settlements. The Americans were hoping that an alliance with the French
would enable them to beat the combined forces of the British and Native Americans. In August
1794 we fought a battle against the Shawnee and we won; a battle to gain control of the Native
Americans in the Ohio River Valley. It was called the Battle of Fallen Timbers. A year later
Americans forced 12 Indian nations to sign the Treaty of Greenville which opened up most of
Ohio to white settlement. The Natives were angry afterwards because they believed they were
tricked into signing the treaty.
--By the early 1790s the French rebelled against their monarchy and had a French Revolution.
Their revolution turned violent and they also went to war with Britain. Washington hoped that
the nation could maintain its neutrality. The French tried to involve Americans in their war so
they sent a diplomat named Edmond Genet (a.k.a. Citizen Genet) to recruit Americans for the
French navy. Washington disapproved and issued a Proclamation of Neutrality. It prohibited
Americans from fighting in the war.
--the American victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers persuaded the British to accept many
American demands. In 1794 John Jay created Jay’s Treaty, where the British agreed to
withdraw from American soil. It was controversial because many Americans opposed it. They
argued that it did not mention British interference with American trade or the fact that Britain
would kidnap Americans overseas and make them serve in their navy.
--In 1796 Washington announced he would not seek a 3rd term. In his “Farewell Address”
Washington expressed his troubles over the divisions in American politics and the evils of
political parties. He also stated that we should keep out of foreign affairs.
--Even though Washington warned the country about political parties, or factions, by the mid1790s political parties had been forming. In Washington’s cabinet Hamilton and Jefferson
increasingly took opposing sides on issues. These 2 men became the leaders of the new parties.
--One political party was the Federalist Party. These people supported the policies of Alexander
Hamilton. They stood for a strong federal government, admired Britain, favored banking and
shipping interests. They also believed the government could do anything that the Constitution
did not forbid. (This is called a loose construction view of the Constitution.)
--The other political party was the Republican, or the Democratic-Republican Party. It was led
by Jefferson and the Republicans believed in leaving as much power as possible to state
governments, they supported the French, and also free trade. They also believed that the
government should not do anything that the Constitution did not specifically say it could do.
(This is called a strict construction view of the Constitution.)
--Hamilton and Jefferson became political enemies because of all of this.
--The Election of 1796 was the first election where candidates sought office as members of a
party instead of as individuals. The Federalists nominated John Adams and the DemocraticRepublicans nominated Thomas Jefferson. Adams and Jefferson, who had been good friends,
became rivals. Adams won the election and became the 2nd president. Since Jefferson lost the
election he became Adams’ vice-president. (at that time the loser of the election became VP)
--John Adams became the 2nd president of the U.S. on March 4, 1797. He faced big problems.
--France regarded Jay’s Treaty as an American attempt to help the British in their war with
France. To punish the U.S., the French seized American ships that carried cargo to Britain.
Adams wanted to avoid war with France, so he sent a few American delegates to negotiate peace.
However, the French minister refused to meet with the Americans and sent instead 3 unnamed
agents who demanded a bribe and a loan. The Americans left and reported this to President
Adams. He was furious. Because of this, Adams told Congress to prepare for war. Referring to
the 3 agents as X, Y, and Z, this was known as the XYZ Affair.
--There was an undeclared naval war with France for the next 2 years. This fighting with France
made American more suspicious of aliens because they feared they might not be loyal to
America. Federalists in Congress responded with strict laws to protect the nation’s security. In
1798 they passed laws called the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Alien Act gave the president the
power to deport anyone he considered dangerous. The Sedition Act made it a crime to speak,
write, or publish “false, scandalous and malicious” criticisms of the government, Congress, or
the president.
--Jefferson and Madison were scared that the federal government was growing too strong. They
wrote 2 resolutions on the rights of states that were endorsed by the legislatures of Virginia and
Kentucky. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 spelled out a theory of
states’ rights. It was an effort to transfer some powers of the federal government into the state
governments. They also wanted to stand up to what they called a Federalist tyranny.
--In 1800 Adams was able to seek peace with France and stop their naval war. The Federalists
began to hate Adams because they wanted to fully enter a war with France.
--In the Election of 1800, John Adams ran as a Federalist. For the Democratic-Republicans, the
candidates were Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Burr and Jefferson were tied with the
same number of votes (73) in the Electoral College. Because of this tie, the House of
Representatives had to decide the election. Finally, after 3 votes, Jefferson won and became the
next president. Burr then became vice-president.
--Once he became president, he selected his friend James Madison for Secretary of State and
Albert Gallatin for Secretary of the Treasury. Jefferson and Gallatin wanted to reduce the huge
national debt of $83 million that the Federalists had left. They cut down on military spending,
which reduced the size of the army and navy dramatically. They also cut down government
spending and shrank the size of the government bureaucracy.
--Jefferson and the Courts: After Jefferson won the presidential election, he and Adams became
rivals. The week before Jefferson became president on March 4, 1801, Adams had made
hundreds of appointments to the federal and district court systems, filling the courts with
Federalist judges. These appointments were known as Midnight Judges. In order to be in
effect, the papers had to be delivered to the judges. On March 4, a few of the papers had not
been delivered. Jefferson was now president and ordered Madison not to send them out. One of
the judges who had not received his paper was William Marbury. Marbury took his case to the
Supreme Court because he felt that Madison was supposed to have those papers delivered. Chief
Justice John Marshall, a Federalist, actually declared that the Constitution did not give the
Court jurisdiction to decide Marbury’s case. In Marbury vs. Madison Justice Marshall had for
the first time exercised the right of the Supreme Court to review and rule on acts of the other
branches of government. This is known as Judicial Review, and it’s become a basic part of the
system of checks and balances of our government today.
--West of the Mississippi River was the Louisiana Territory, owned by Spain. It included a
very important city for the U.S., named New Orleans. What Jefferson didn’t know was that
Spain had secretly given that land to France, and Jefferson was scared because they were a
threat. He did not want to have the French next to the U.S. because Napoleon Bonaparte was the
Emperor of France (who wanted an empire in the Americas) and that it would jeopardize
American trade.
--Jefferson sent Madison and Robert Livingston (U.S. ambassador to France) to buy New
Orleans from France. Instead, because Napoleon decided to abandon his plans of having an
empire in America and because he needed money, he offered Madison and Livingston all of the
Louisiana Territory for $15 million. Jefferson was pleased with this and agreed, and the
purchase was made in 1803. This was known as the Louisiana Purchase. It more than doubled
the size of our country. It made Jefferson really popular.
--To explore this land, Jefferson launched an expedition headed by Meriwether Lewis and
William Clark. This was known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They were gone for 2 ½
years exploring the Louisiana Territory charting the land’s geography. They were able to pass
the Rocky Mountains and find the Pacific Ocean.
--Another explorer named Zebulon Pike was sent by Jefferson to explore this region and to bring
back information about the Louisiana Territory.
--During Jefferson’s first term, American shipping was doing very well and our economy was
good. We were trading with France, Britain, and other nations close by. However, there were
pirates on Africa’s northern coast, called the Barbary Pirates. They were threatening American
ships, making them pay ransom in order to pass by. Jefferson refused and we had to fight the
Barbary pirates. After some fighting, negotiations stopped the pirates from attacking ships.
--In 1804 Jefferson easily won re-election because he had become so popular. He now entered
his 2nd term, but it was not as good as his first. Britain and France decided to not let America
trade with them anymore because they were both at war with each other and they couldn’t stand
America’s choice to be neutral any longer. They also began to seize American ships. The
British went too far by practicing impressment, which meant that the British would kidnap
American sailors and force them to serve in the British navy. Jefferson had to do something.
--In 1807, Congress passed the Embargo Act. An embargo prohibits trade with another country.
Although Great Britain was the target, it banned trade with ALL countries. By using the
embargo Jefferson hoped to hurt Britain but avoid war. Instead, it was a disaster. It wiped out
all American commerce with other nations. It also proved ineffective against Britain. Even
worse, the embargo divided the American people. Jefferson grew unpopular. In 1809 Congress
repealed the Embargo Act because it didn’t work.
--Jefferson decided not to run in the election of 1808. James Madison (Democratic-Republican)
ran in this election and won against Charles Pinckney (Federalist).
--In the West (Ohio) there were conflicts with whites expanding onto Native American lands. A
powerful Shawnee chief named Tecumseh wanted to create an alliance of Native American
tribes to defeat the Americans. He told his brother, the Prophet, to do the same in other lands.
At the Battle of Tippecanoe, General William Henry Harrison fought the Native Americans
and won. It was a great victory for the U.S., but the bad part was that the Native Americans were
now seeking help from the British in Canada.
--Back in Washington, the Republicans wanted a war with Britain because of the impressment.
They were known as the War Hawks. By 1812, President Madison knew that war couldn’t be
avoided with Britain. He asked Congress to make a declaration of war. The War of 1812 began.
--The war started in July 1812 with the Americans going into British Canada. They wanted to
take Canada from the British. In order for the Americans to do this, they needed to possess Lake
Erie. In a naval battle, the Americans got Lake Erie. Then they fought the Battle of the
Thames and won that as well. There were Native Americans involved in that battle, and the
leader Tecumseh died there. After all this, Canada remained unconquered, but the Americans
won several important battles.
--The British decided to change their strategy. In August 1814, the British landed in Chesapeake
Bay and headed straight for Washington, D.C. The Americans could not hold them back, so
President Madison and his wife Dolley Madison were evacuated from the city. The British
troops set fire to many buildings in Washington, including the Capitol and the White House.
Fortunately, when the British left the capital they were defeated at Baltimore, Maryland.
--The British decided to stop this war because it was useless and nothing was getting done. The
U.S. agreed and both parties signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium to end the war in 1814.
There was no winner in this war. However, another battle occurred after the signing of the treaty
because of news traveling slowly. At the Battle of New Orleans, General Andrew Jackson led
the Americans to a great victory, even though the war was officially over. This was a boost in
Americans’ morale.
--By the late 1790s there was a growth of industry in the U.S. Instead of manufacturing products
and goods by hand, people created machinery to perform some of the work for them. This all led
to the Industrial Revolution, which started in Great Britain. The Industrial Revolution made it
to America around 1800, first appearing in New England. There the factories flourished. Many
people there began to leave their farms to work in these factories to make money.
--Many inventions at this time led to the Industrial Revolution. Many of the inventions like the
spinning jenny (which spun thread) and the cotton gin (a machine to separate the cotton seeds
from the cotton fiber) enabled goods to be manufactured in less time and also became cheaper to
buy. Congress passed a patent law to protect inventors. A patent gives the inventor the sole
legal right to the invention and its profits for a certain period time.
--Many factories and industries wanted to improve the manufacturing process to try to produce
as many products as possible. Francis Cabot Lowell, a mill owner, launched the factory
system which is a way to bring manufacturing steps together in one place to increase efficiency.
The factory system was a significant development in the way goods were made—and an
important part of the Industrial Revolution.
--The Industrial Revolution helped make the U.S. more independent economically. We were
now producing many of our goods and relying less on British imports. Also, Congress passed
the Tariff of 1816 to place a tax on imported goods, making the ironware, paper, and woolen and
cotton goods from Britain more expensive than products made in the U.S.
--The charter of the First Bank of the United States had expired in 1811. In 1816 Congress
chartered the Second Bank of the United States. The Bank had the power to establish a national
currency and to make large loans. It helped strengthen the economic independence of the nation.
--In the 1790s and early 1800s many Americans wanted to move west to search for a better life.
However, it was difficult. Transportation was not very good, so they began to build roads to
make traveling easier. Many companies began building roads called turnpikes, or toll roads.
The fees travelers paid to use those roads helped offset construction costs. Many of the roads
had a base of crushed stone. With roads being built to connect the east and west, more
Americans began to move west.
--A popular form of travel was river travel. It was more comfortable than travel over the bumpy
roads. Steam engines had just been invented in the 1790s, and they began to use steam boats to
travel on rivers. It made it faster than using sails. Despite this, if you were traveling against the
current, travel was slow. In 1807 Robert Fulton invented a more powerful steam engine. His
new steam boat, the Clermont, made it to its destinations much faster.
--Even though river travel was important, there weren’t many rivers that connected the east and
west. People began to build canals, artificial waterways, to connect rivers and cities together.
The Erie Canal built in 1825 is the most famous canals built at that time. It connected the cities
of Buffalo and Albany. The success of the Erie Canal led to an explosion in canal building. By
1840 the U.S. had more than 3,300 miles of canals built.
--In 1817 James Monroe, a Democratic-Republican, became president. By this time, the
Federalist Party was fading out, and political differences seemed to be going away. This time
became known as the Era of Good Feelings, and Monroe symbolized this. President Monroe
became an extremely popular president, and most Americans approved of his administration. He
toured all over the nation for almost his entire 1st term, and he easily won a 2nd term.
--The Era of Good Feelings did not last very long. Most Americans felt a strong allegiance to
the region where they lived. This sectionalism, or loyalty to their region, became more intense
as differences arose over national policies. In the early 1800s, 3 powerful Congressmen emerged
as spokespersons for their regions:
--John C. Calhoun was a Southerner who favored states’ rights. He became a strong opponent of
nationalist programs such as high tariffs. He believed them to be against the agricultural and
slavery interests of Southerners. Daniel Webster was from New Hampshire and favored the
Tariff of 1816 and other policies that he thought would strengthen the nation and help the North.
He was a supporter of free trade and the shipping interests of New England. Henry Clay was
from Kentucky and represented the interest of the Western states. He became known as the
national leader who tried to resolve sectional disputes and bring conflicting interests together
through compromise.
--In 1820 the slavery issue became a real problem. The South wanted Missouri admitted as a
slave state. Northerners wanted Missouri to be free of slavery. At that same time, Maine—still
part of Massachusetts—was applying for statehood. Eventually Henry Clay made a compromise
to satisfy both sides. The Missouri Compromise provided for the admission of Missouri as a
slave state and Maine as a free state. The agreement also banned slavery in the remainder of the
Louisiana Territory above the Missouri Compromise Line (36’30’). Any new state admitted
south of the line would then be a slave state.
--Spain owned East Florida and also claimed West Florida. The U.S. contended that West
Florida was part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1810 and 1812 Americans simply added parts of
West Florida to the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. In April 1818, General Andrew
Jackson invaded Spanish East Florida, seizing control of 2 Spanish forts. Jackson had been
ordered to stop Seminole raids on American territory from Florida. In capturing the Spanish
forts, however, Jackson went beyond his instructions. Spain began to protest and wanted
Jackson punished.
--Secretary of State John Quincy Adams was ready to negotiate with the Spanish, because
they did not want a war with the U.S. Jackson’s raid had demonstrated the military strength of
the U.S. and Spain was scared. Spain signed the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819. Spain gave East
Florida to the United States and abandoned all claims to West Florida. The 2 countries also
agreed on a border between the United States and Spanish possessions in the West. The border
extended northwest from the Gulf of Mexico to the 42nd parallel and then west to the Pacific.
--In order to avoid any future problems with Europe, President James Monroe issued the
Monroe Doctrine, which stated that European nations are no longer allowed to colonize the
Americas (western hemisphere). Europe was allowed to keep any current colonies, but not
allowed to create new ones. This was to keep Europe out of America’s affairs. It was important
because it became a crucial element in American foreign policy.