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U.S. History Part One--Early America


  •  Provided for a weak national government
  • Gave Congress no power to tax or regulate commerce among the states
  • Provided for no common currency
  • Gave each state one vote regardless of size
  • Provided for no executive or judicial branches


CLICK HERE for the WebGuide to the Articles of Confederation from the Library of Congress

Confederation to Constitution

·      Weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation led to the effort to draft a new constitution.


The Constitutional Convention

·      State delegates met in Philadelphia and decided not to revise the Articles of Confederation but to write a new constitution.

·      George Washington was elected president of the Constitutional Convention.

·      Delegates debated over how much power should be given to the new national government and how large and small states should be represented in the new government.

·      The structure of the new national government included three separate branches of government:




·      The Great Compromise decided how many votes each state would have in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

·      The Constitution was signed at the end of the convention.


Ratification of the Constitution

·      A minimum of nine of the thirteen states had to vote in favor of the Constitution before it could become law.


The Bill of Rights

·      Based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights (George Mason) and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (Thomas Jefferson)

These first ten amendments to the Constitution provide a written guarantee of individual rights (e.g., freedom of speech, freedom of religion).


Preamble Resources;

Anyone can remember the preamble!

Well.......almost anyone......

.......even Star Trek's Captain Kirk knows the preamble!

Even Legos know the preamble!

School House Rock version....


......and here is the preamble itself!

after the quiz, we will see who can say the entire preamble without taking a breath in the Incredible Wind contest

Here's a quick introduction to the basic structure of the Constitiion:

The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to Constitution and includes first amandment protections of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion


....and here are ALL the amendments......."Constitution Style!"


All of the first five presidents were Virginians except John Adams.


Accomplishments during the first five presidencies

·      George Washington

    Federal court system was established.

    The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution of the United States of America.

    Plans were created for development of the national capital in Washington, D.C. Benjamin Banneker, an African American astronomer and surveyor, helped complete the design for the city.

·      John Adams

    A two-party system emerged during his administration.

·      Thomas Jefferson

    He bought Louisiana from France (Louisiana Purchase).

    Lewis and Clark explored new land west of the Mississippi River.

·      James Madison

    The War of l812 caused European nations to gain respect for the United States.

·      James Monroe

He introduced the Monroe Doctrine warning European nations not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere.


George Washington

Biography Channel Biography from Mount Vernon
White House Biography Mount Vernon Student Pages
Miller Center Entry Mount Vernon--Main Page
10 things to know about Washington Washington teaching worksheets and puzzles

Many myths about George Washington have their origin in a "biography" written by Parson Weems!
CLICK HERE to read Parson Weems book!

Learn more about Washington's teeth with this video from Mount Vernon:

Try this music parody of George Washington:

or this one:

John Adams

Biography Channel  
White House Biography Adams teaching worksheets and puzzles
Miller Center Entry 10 things to know about Adams
Biography from "Signers of the Declaration"  

Watch John Adams' awkward meeting with King George III after the Revolution from the John Adams mini-series:

Thomas Jefferson

Biography Channel Biography from Monticello
White House Biography Jefferson teaching worksheets and puzzles
Miller Center Entry 10 things to know about Jefferson
Biography from the National Expansion Memorial  


James Madison

Biography Channel Biography from Montpelier
White House Biography Madison teaching worksheets and puzzles
Miller Center Entry 10 things to know about Madison

Note:  Madison was elected in 1808, not 1809 as mentioned in the following video.  He took office in 1809----

....and here's a video on the War of 1812!

...and a song about the Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton from the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS

James Monroe

Biography Channel Biography from Ashlawn-Highland
White House Biography Monroe teaching worksheets and puzzles
Miller Center Entry 10 things to know about Monroe

Spring 2017 students created "fakebook" pages for the first 5 presidents!  CLICK HERE to check out the pages they created.  (Note: not all information is factual or accurate.  Use these pages for fun, not for research!)


While the Virginia SOL's don't directly address how buildings such as the White House reflect on the occupants or our culture, I'm passing along a link suggested by a visitor with lots of great links to information about the building and it's history.  Thanks for the suggestion, Ashley!

Building and Re-Building the White House




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