Ch 39: The US Constitution & The First Presidents

About This Chapter

Discover how the United States Constitution came into being and learn about the first US presidents. These video lessons bring history to life by walking you through some of the most groundbreaking events at the nation's infancy.

The US Constitution & The First Presidents - Chapter Summary

The United States went through a number of profound and rapid political changes in the decades after the American Revolution. This chapter gives a helpful overview the documents that preceded the US Constitution, such as the Articles of Confederation, as well as the important events that occurred at this tumultuous time, from Shays Rebellion to the presidency of John Adams.

Learn about they early presidents, from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, as well as other influential figures like Alexander Hamilton. You'll improve your understanding of how the Constitution came into effect and the conflicts faced by the original United States government. Once you've completed this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Explain the creation of the state constitutions
  • Define and describe the Virginia House Of Burgesses and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
  • List the main points of the Iroquois Constitution, Articles of Confederation, and Northwest Ordinance
  • Summarize the Constitutional Convention and key events leading up to the ratification of the Constitution
  • Describe the content and purpose of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights
  • Discuss the major events that took place during the presidencies of Washington and Adams
  • Outline the impact of the Treaty of Lorenzo, Whiskey Rebellion, and Battle of Fallen Timbers

Our short, compelling video lessons, taught by professional instructors, make learning about US history a cinch. Use the lesson transcripts to follow along with each video you watch and recap the most important points using the video tags in the Timeline. Test your knowledge at the end of each section using our quick self-assessment quizzes. You can easily track your progress from the Dashboard.

15 Lessons in Chapter 39: The US Constitution & The First Presidents
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Creating State Constitutions After the American Revolution

1. Creating State Constitutions After the American Revolution

After the revolution, the states had to figure out what the rule of the people would be like. The early state constitutions and how they were drafted would inform the process and the resulting document that would become the U.S. Constitution.

Virginia House Of Burgesses: Definition & Importance

2. Virginia House Of Burgesses: Definition & Importance

The Virginia House of Burgesses was the first legislative body in British North America. Learn about the creation of the House, the House's growing power, and how the House of Burgesses led to the American Revolution in this lesson.

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut: Definition, Summary & Significance

3. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut: Definition, Summary & Significance

Learn how the Fundamental Orders distinguished Connecticut colonies from Massachusetts' governance and how the agreement encouraged Connecticut to declare itself the Constitution State.

The Iroquois Constitution: Summary & Analysis

4. The Iroquois Constitution: Summary & Analysis

In this lesson, you'll learn about the history of the Iroquois Constitution, including the main provisions, groups involved, and similarities to the U.S. Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance

5. The Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance

The Articles of Confederation was the new nation's founding document, but the government established under the Articles was too weak. The new central government had no way of raising revenue and no ability to enforce the commitments made by the states. The Northwest Ordinance paved the way for the growth of the new nation.

Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and Shays Rebellion

6. Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and Shays Rebellion

The Articles of Confederation were too weak to create an effective government for the new nation. In this lesson, discover how Shays' Rebellion proved that the national government needed to strengthen.

The Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise

7. The Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise

The Constitutional Convention was intended to amend the Articles of Confederation. Instead, those in attendance set out to found a republic (the likes of which had never been seen), which is still going strong well over 200 years later. To accomplish this task, compromises had to be made. The Great Compromise designed the bicameral congress the U.S. has today.

The Ratification of the Constitution and the New U.S. Government

8. The Ratification of the Constitution and the New U.S. Government

The U.S. Constitution may be one of the most important documents in history, but it wasn't a sure thing. A lot of debate took place. There were many people passionate about ratification, and many people passionate about ensuring it didn't get ratified. The divide over the Constitution shows us the root of political parties in the U.S.

The US Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments

9. The US Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments

The U.S. Constitution is one of the most important documents in history. It establishes the government of the United States, and its first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, assures every U.S. citizen the rights we have all come to hold dear.

The Bill of Rights: The Constitution's First 10 Amendments

10. The Bill of Rights: The Constitution's First 10 Amendments

The Bill of Rights was pivotal in getting the U.S. Constitution ratified. More importantly, the Bill of Rights guarantees the rights of every citizen of the United States in a way that is nearly unequaled.

George Washington and the New United States Government

11. George Washington and the New United States Government

George Washington was the United States' first president. He knew everything he did would set the stage for future presidents of the country. A heavy weight was on his shoulders, and much of what he established in his two terms set the precedent for presidents today.

Hamilton and the Federalists vs. Jefferson and the Republicans

12. Hamilton and the Federalists vs. Jefferson and the Republicans

Although President Washington warned against the nation falling into political factions, the different views of the Constitution held by Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists and Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans set the path for the two-party system that the U.S. has today.

The French Revolution, Jay Treaty and Treaty of San Lorenzo

13. The French Revolution, Jay Treaty and Treaty of San Lorenzo

In the U.S., early foreign affairs were of incredible importance. For the young nation to survive, they had to exist in a world with tense relations. Should the new nation get involved in foreign wars? How do they negotiate with foreign powers? This lesson looks at the early foreign relations of the United States.

The Whiskey Rebellion and Battle of Fallen Timbers

14. The Whiskey Rebellion and Battle of Fallen Timbers

In the early days of the U.S., President Washington and the new government were tested by foreign and domestic issues. How these issues were dealt with would establish the young nation's position. Domestically, the Whiskey Rebellion and the Battle of Fallen Timbers demonstrated how rebellion and territorial issues would be decided.

President John Adams: From Alien and Sedition Acts to XYZ Affair

15. President John Adams: From Alien and Sedition Acts to XYZ Affair

John Adams was an important founder of the United States. In many ways, he was the voice of the Revolution. As president, he had some proud shining moments and one major blight on his legacy.

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