A New Nation 1784 to 1790
January 14, 1784 – Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris signed by representatives of English Crown and the United States of America and established the end of the American Revolutionary War. It authorized the boundaries between the Great Britain possessions in North America and the United States.
March 1, 1784 – A congressional committee headed by Thomas Jefferson offered to make a division of western territories into states that should be considered equal with the existed 13. Jefferson also appealed to implement a ban on slavery in the territory of the U.S. after 1800. This statement was failed.
August 30, 1784 – The American Ship Empress of China sailed from New York to Canton, China under the captain John Green, who was a former U.S. naval officer. This expedition marked the beginning of the China Trade. The vessel came back boating exotic goods, including silks and tea and made large numbers of American merchants engage in trade.
September 22, 1784 – Russians sat up their first settlement that was actually a post named Three Saints Bay, in Alaska, on Kodiak Island.
January 11, 1785 – Congress moved to New York City that was a temporary capital of the U.S.
February 24, 1785 – England disagreed to delegate an ambassador to the U.S., and John Adams was directed as the American representative to Britain. He tried unsuccessfully during the next three years to resolve issues regarding the existence of several British forts along the Canadian border, offset of pre-war debts of British creditors, post-war American relationships with Loyalists, and the cease of the West Indian colonies for American trade transactions.
May 8, 1785 – Congress enacted the Land Ordinance of 1785 which established a system that governed the rules of purchase of farmland title in the undeveloped west and divided these territories by the square and sat up a price for each no less than $640.
January 16, 1786 – The Virginia government upheld Jefferson’s Ordinance of Religious Freedom that implemented the guarantee that no person can be enforced to confess any religious believes or be subjected to discrimination because of his religious opinions. It later became as background for the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Summer of 1786 – Americans experienced a post-war economic depression including a deficiency of currency, high taxes and fees, damages for creditors, farm foreclosures and bankruptcies.
August 8, 1786 – Congress approved a monetary system based on the Spanish dollar and established the value of $10 per one gold piece, $1 per silver piece, $1 per one-tenth in silver, and copper pennies.
August 22-25, 1786 – Disappointed representatives from 50 towns from Massachusetts conducted the discussion of the money issues including the increasing number of foreclosures, the high cost of lawsuits, high land and poll tax fees, high state officials` salaries, and asked for a new kind of paper money as the implementation of new means of credit.
August 31, 1786 – In Massachusetts, Daniel Shays, who was an ex-Revolutionary War Captain and now a bankrupt farmer, headed an armed crowd of protesters to prevent all debtors from being tried and serving the imprisonment imposed after the proceeding in the Northampton Court.
September 20, 1786 – In New Hampshire, armed protesters gathered against the state assembly and asked about implementation of issuing of paper money.
September 26, 1786 – Shays’ rebels, suggesting that they might be charged with treason, fought against 600 militiamen who guarded the state Massachusetts Supreme Court session in Springfield and caused the court to adjourn the process hearing.
October 16, 1786 – Congress upheld the mint of the United States.
October 20, 1786 – Congress empowered Henry Knox, who was a Secretary of War, to gather 1340 soldiers to the federal arsenal because of safety and peace concerns at Springfield, Mass.
December 26, 1786 – Shays mobilized 1200 soldiers near Worcester, Mass. and led them toward Springfield. Massachusetts’ Governor, Bowdoin, enacted an order on the mobilization of the 4400 men.
January 26, 1787 – Shays’ rebels assault on the federal arsenal at Springfield was failed. The Hero of Revolution, Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, then led the reinforcement from Boston to suppress the protesters.
February 4, 1787 – Gen. Lincoln’s forces confronted Shays’ rebels at Petersham, Massachusetts, and arrested 150 rebels. Shays escaped to the north to Vermont.
February 21, 1787 – Following the statement about the need for a stronger central government because of Shays’ Rebellion, Congress approved a resolution aiming to the implementation of a constitutional convention in Philadelphia starting from May.
May 25, 1787 – The constitutional convention was conducted in the state house (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, where 29 representatives from nine states were present. Every of 73 delegates had been elected by the states (excluding Rhode Island) however only 55 persons took part in the conference. Among the members, there were 21 veterans of the Revolutionary War, and 8 representatives took part in signing the Declaration of Independence. Most of the delegates were farmers, merchants, lawyers and bankers, their average age being 42, but an outstanding 36-year- old James Madison was the main author at the convention, and an 81-year-old Ben Franklin also participated actively. Thomas Jefferson was not present at the convention because of his assignment as an ambassador to France.
The first voting of delegates concerning the adherence to the convention procedure was secret. Then George Washington was elected as the president of the constitutional conference.
June 19, 1787 – Instead of reviewing the Articles of Confederation, representatives at the constitutional convention voted to establish a totally new form of national government divided into three separate branches – the legislative, executive and judicial. The key principle was to distribute the power through checks and balances, and the existence of political competitors, as a measure to protect against any authoritarian or undemocratic regimes by a controlling majority.
July 13, 1787 – Congress adopted The Northwest Ordinance that established the Northwest Territory stretching from the lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains, between the British North America and the Great Lakes to the north and the Ohio River to the south. The upper Mississippi River approved the Territory’s western boundary. It was aimed to opposite pressures. The document consisted of a Bill of Rights that guaranteed freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, public education and a ban on slavery in the Northwest.
July 16, 1787 – At the constitutional convention, Roger Sherman introduced a compromise plan which empowered representation in the House of Representatives to be based on every state’s population and equal representation for all of the states in the Senate. Many of black slaves in the South should be considered as only three-fifths of their total number. A draft of the constitution was arranged.
August 6-10, 1787 – The discussion of constitution started regarding the provisions the regulated the length of terms for the president and legislators, Congress capacity to govern commerce, and an offer of a 20-year ban on any Congressional action regarding slavery.
September 17, 1787 – Thirty-nine delegates participated, voted to approve and then signed the draft of the new Constitution.
“The Constitution’s first three words—We the People—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments.”
The United States Constitution implemented the fundamental principles and rules that regulated the state organization. The Constitution governed different levels of organizations, from sovereign states to companies and unincorporated associations.
It established the three branches of power. The Legislative Branch included two houses: the Senate of Representatives elected by state for six years’ term; and the House of Representatives of members elected by popular vote for two years’ term.
The Executive Branch was led by President as the chief executive appointed by the presidential election for four years’ term. The President was empowered the with veto right over Congress, which could be canceled by a two-thirds vote in each house; he was a commander in chief of the armies; had a capacity to conclude agreements under consent of two-thirds of the Senate; capacity to appoint judges, diplomats and other officers with the consent of the Senate; right to recommend legislation for execution of the laws.
The President was obligated to report each year to the legislative authority of the state. The legislative body was authorized to resign the President from the position. The House could initiate the procedure of the President impeachment for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
The Judicial Branch included a Supreme Court and federal courts. The highest one had rights to review and to repeal laws that contradicted the Constitution.
September 19, 1787 – The adopted Constitution was presented publically and the printed copies of the document were distributed. After that, the discussion started as most people expected just a review of the Articles of Confederation, and was opposite to a new central government that they found similar with the British system they had overcame recently.
September 28, 1787 – Congress approved to send the Constitution to the local state legislature bodies for ratification. The procedure required the approval of nine states.
October 27, 1787 – The members of Federalists, who supported a strong central government and complete ratification of the new Constitution, published essays appealing for these ideas. This was a collection of 85 essays and articles that was also known as Federalist Papers. The main authors were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. These essays were separately published from 1787 till 1788 in different version and publications.
The main idea of the authors of the Federalist Papers was to impact on the vote for ratifying the Constitution, stating: “It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force”.
December 7, 1787 – Delaware was the first to begin the process of ratification of the Constitution, to be followed by Pennsylvania (Dec. 12) New Jersey (Dec. 18) Georgia (Jan. 2, 1788) Connecticut (Jan. 9) Massachusetts (Feb. 7) Maryland (April 28) South Carolina (May 23) and New Hampshire (June 21).
February 6, 1788 – Anti-Federalists in Massachusetts, headed by Sam Adams and John Hancock supported the idea of more decentralized system of government and provided their support for the ratification of the Constitution only after a compromise was reached that amendments would be included guaranteeing civil liberties.
February 27, 1788 – In Massachusetts, after the incident when free blacks were captured and transported to the island of Martinique, the Massachusetts authority proclaimed the slavery trade outlawed and established a monetary compensation to victims of kidnappings.
March 24, 1788 – In Rhode Island, the Constitution was not approved by the voting on the popular referendum. The state, considering a threat of the consolidated federal power, declined to send a delegation to the constitutional convention in Philadelphia and refused to approve a state convention for ratification.
June 2, 1788 – In Virginia, anti-Federalist forces, headed by Patrick Henry and George Mason, attempted to opposite the ratification of the Constitution. Richard Henry Lee joined them appealing for adaptation of a bill of rights and a lower house establishment on a more democratic basis.
June 25, 1788 – In Virginia, the Federalists, headed by James Madison, reached their purpose as the ratification of the Constitution (with a proposed bill of rights and 20 other changes) was confirmed by a close vote of 89 to 75.
July 2, 1788 – The president of Congress announced in the official statement that the Constitution of the United States entered into force, because the required nine states ratified it.
July 8, 1788 – A committee in the old Congress (that was under the Articles of Confederation) sat up to conduct the transfer of power, including procedures of elections of representatives to the first Congress according to the new Constitution and procedures of appointment of the electors of the first president.
July 26, 1788 – The state of New York executed the voting resulting from 30 to 27 to perform ratification and advised to include a bill of rights.
September 13, 1788 – The New York City Congress approved the decision to establish New York as the temporary seat of the recently created government of the U.S.A.
October-December – The prices on commodities stabilized, that facilitated to economic raise and a consequent return to pre-war levels of welfare.
November 1, 1788 – The old Congress that was governed under the Articles of Confederation, recessed. The U.S. did not establish a central government yet.
November 21, 1788 – North Carolina approved the Constitution through the result of voting of 194 to 77.
December 23, 1788 – Maryland introduced a proposal to transfer a 10 square-mile area along the Potomac River for the set-up of a federal town to be the new official seat of the U.S. government.
January 7, 1789 – Presidential electors were appointed in the 11 ratifying states, except New York.
January 23, 1789 – Georgetown University was established by Father John Carroll. It was founded as a first private Catholic research university in the Georgetown.
February 4, 1789 – Ballots took part in the first presidential election that was conducted on April 6.
March 4, 1789 – The first Congress meeting took place in New York City, but it didn`t achieve a quorum, because most members were still absent there.
April 1, 1789 – Congress took the quorum with 30 of 59 members delegated and the House of Representatives commenced its function. Of 59 members, 54 were present at the constitutional convention.
April 6, 1789 – In the Senate, with 9 of 22 senators present, the presidential ballots were conducted on Feb. 4. George Washington was elected unanimously for the presidential position with 69 votes. John Adams was appointed Vice President with 34 votes. Messengers were delegated then to inform Washington and Adams.
April 14, 1789 – Charles Thomson, as a secretary of Congress, came to Mount Vernon and informed George Washington of the results of voting and his election as President. Two days later, Washington went to New York City.
April 21, 1789 – John Adams arrived to New York and was appointed the Vice President, then he moved to take his seat in the presidential office of the Senate.
April 23, 1789 – After a victorious journey, Washington arrived to New York City.
April 30, 1789 – Standing on the balcony of New York’s Federal Hall, the 57-years old George Washington declared under oath his first statement as the first President of the United States.
The oath was governed by Chancellor Robert R. Livingston: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The historian John R. Alden noted that Washington also said the words “so help me God.”
He then came to the Senate chamber to attend his inaugural address.
May 7, 1789 – The first inaugural ball took place in honor of President Washington.
June 1, 1789 – Congress approved its first legal document to uphold the procedure for conducting oaths of office.
July 4, 1789 – Congress upheld its first protective tax of 8.5 percent on 30 different goods, however, the items that arrived to America were imposed with a lower rate than foreign ships.
July 14, 1789 – In France, the French Revolution started with the fall of the Bastille in Paris. The American ambassador Thomas Jefferson was the witness of this outstanding event.
July 20, 1789 – Congress upheld the Tonnage Act of 1789 that imposed a tax of 50 cents per ton on foreign ships coming to American ports, and 30 cents per ton on American-built ships owned by foreigners, and 6 cents per ton on American ships.
The main purpose of this act was stated as follows: “Whereas it is necessary for that support of government, for the discharge of the debts of the United States, and the encouragement and protection of manufactures, that duties be laid on goods, wares and merchandise”.
July 27, 1789 – Congress commenced the process of organization of the government departments with the set-up of the Department of Foreign Affairs, that was later renamed the Department of State. The War Department (Aug. 7) Treasury Dept. (Sept. 2) and Postmaster General under the Treasury Dept. (Sept. 2) were also the establishment in the short term after.
September 22, 1789 – Congress enacted the Federal Judiciary Act that sat up Supreme Court, consisting of 6 judges, attorney general, 13 federal district courts and 3 circuit courts. Under Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution defined that the “judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and such inferior Courts” as Congress followed this prescription.
All federal sues had to be proceed in the district court and the appeal was to be exercised by the circuit court and then by the Supreme Court. However, an independent federal judiciary was considered as controversial and as possible tool for creation of tyranny.
September 25, 1789 – Congress offered 12 constitutional amendments to the states for ratification. The first ten would later be ratified and implemented into the Constitution in 1791 as the Bill of Rights.
September 29, 1789 – Congress upheld the establishment of the U.S. Army. U.S. Army was originated from the Continental Army, which fought during the American Revolutionary War. It consisted of one regiment of eight infantry companies and one battalion of four artillery companies that combined 1000 soldiers.
November 26, 1789 – The congressional resolution upheld officially A Day of Thanksgiving due to statement of George Washington: “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
March 1, 1790 – Congress enacted a Census Act with the purpose to count the population:
“The law required that every household be visited, that completed census schedules be posted in ‘two of the most public places within [each jurisdiction], there to remain for the inspection of all concerned…’ and that ‘the aggregate amount of each description of persons’ for every district be transmitted to the president.”
Under the first census, finished on Aug. 1, a total population was nearly 4 million persons in the U.S. and western territories. African Americans completed 19 percent of the population, with 90 percent living in the South. Native Americans were not considers for recording, although there were likely over 80 tribes with 150,000 persons. The average age of white Americans was under 16. The studies reflected that the most of the white families were large and consisted of an average of eight children.
The largest American city was Philadelphia, with 42,000 persons, then was New York with 33,000 persons, then was Boston with 18,000 residents, Charleston had 16,000 inhabitants and Baltimore had 13,000 persons. Most of Americans were engaged in agricultural pursuits, because industrial activity was little developed over that period.
July 10, 1790 – The House of Representatives approved the decision to locate the national capital on a 10 square-mile site along the Potomac, in consent with President George Washington who chose the exact location.
December 18, 1799 – Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at the age of 84. Four days later, his funeral occurred at Mount Vernon where over 20,000 mourners were present. Congress stated a joint resolution to establish the monument for his body in the planned crypt in the central section of the Capitol.