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First Documents
Declaration of Independence and the
Articles of Confederation
Leading to Independence
• First Continental Congress –colonies
decided to boycott British goods
• British declared colonies to be in a state of
• Second Continental Congress –elected a President
and formed a military to fight the British,
• acted as government throughout Revolutionary
• SCC decided that the United Colonies
should be free and independent states, wrote
Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence
• Agreed to write a document that would declare
independence from Great Britain
• Thomas Jefferson wrote it in 3 parts:
• Beginning: Statement of purpose and basic
human rights
• Middle: Specific complaints against King
George III
• End: Efforts to reach a peaceful solution didn’t
work, needed to break with Great Britain
Ideas of independence were spread by
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense
• But where says some is the King of America? I'll
tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not
make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of
Britain...let it be brought forth placed on the
divine law, the word of God; let a crown be
placed thereon, by which the world may know,
that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
Thomas Paine
• As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is
not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may
bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we
are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the
work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order
to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our
children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into
life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present
fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
• Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The
blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, 'tis time to
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
• The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
• Quote 1
• Quote 2:
• Quote 2:
A New Government - Articles
of Confederation
• Continued the structure and operation of
government that the SCC established
• States wanted confederation rather than
national government
• Why?
Make Up of the AoC
• Unicameral Congress from which executive
positions were chosen
• Committee of States – one delegate from
each state managed the govt when
Congress wasn’t assembled
• Every state had 1 vote
• No federal courts
Congress under the AoC
• Had only the powers appointed, all others
were left to the states
• Powers:
• War
• Foreign policies
• Military
• Indians
• Mail
• Handle disputes between states
• What’s missing??
• No power over taxes
• Had to borrow and ask for money from states
• No power to regulate trade
• Problems making business arrangements with
other countries
• Disputes between states
• Laws needed approval of 9 out of 13 states
• laws were rarely passed or amended
• No executive branch
• No way to coordinate the policies that different
committees were making
• No national court system
• States enforced and interpreted on their own laws
• Peace treaty with Great Britain
• Recognized American independence
• Set up departments of Foreign Affairs,
War, Marine, and Treasury
• Each had own Secretary
• Set precedent (Precedent is the first time
something is done; it is setting the
example for the future)
Shays’ Rebellion
• States were fighting over borders and tariffs
• Government was in serious debt as were
individual states
• Daniel Shays led farmers to shut down Mass.
State supreme court to stop them from taking
their farms
• When no new laws were passed, he led 1200
men to attack a federal arsenal
• As a result, state delegates called for a
convention to revise the Articles.
 Assignment 
• What factors would have influenced citizens of the newly
independent American country to choose a Confederate
system of government??
• Use FER!!