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  • The Declaration of Independence

     |  The Apple of Gold/Frame of Silver

    The Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence With the War for Independence over a year old and hope for a peaceful resolution nonexistent, the Continental Congress appointed a Committee of Five—including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin— to draft a document "declar[ing] the causes which impel [the American colonies] to the separation." Thirty-three-year-old Jefferson composed the initial draft, completing it in seventeen days. The committee submitted its draft to Congress on June 28, 1776, and on July 2, Congress voted for independence. Two days later, after numerous edits, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence by unanimous vote. July 4, 1776 The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States ...
  • Fast Day Proclamation of the Continental Congress

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Fast Day Proclamation of the Continental Congress Fast Day Proclamation of the Continental Congress 1 The petition of this Fast Day Proclamation was echoed repeatedly by Congresses in early American history. December 11, 1776 Whereas, the war in which the United States are engaged with Great Britain, has not only been prolonged, but is likely to be carried to the greatest extremity; and whereas, it becomes all public bodies, as well as private persons, to reverence the Providence of God, and look up to him as the supreme disposer of all events, and the arbiter of the fate of nations; therefore, Resolved, That it be recommended to all the United States, as soon as possible, to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation; to implore of Almighty ...
  • The Articles of Confederation

     |  Articles of Confederation

    The Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation Pennsylvanian John Dickinson—who declined to sign the Declaration of Independence because he believed that the states should be organized politically before declaring independence—wrote the first draft of the Articles of Confederation in 1777. Signed into effect that year and ratified in 1781, the Articles provided the structure of government for the states until the Constitution was ratified in 1788. During that period, the Articles' deficiencies became increasingly obvious, and by the time of the Constitutional Convention, few Founders, including Dickinson, defended its continuation. March 1, 1781 To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed ...
  • The Northwest Ordinance

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    The Northwest Ordinance The Northwest Ordinance Adopted by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787, the Northwest Ordinance set forth a model for the expansion of the American republic. Providing a governing structure for the territory that would later become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, it prohibited slavery, protected religious liberty, and encouraged education. Following the adoption of the Constitution, the new Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance again in 1789. July 13, 1787 An Ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio Section 1. Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purpose of temporary government, be one ...
  • The Constitution of the United States of America

     |  The Apple of Gold/Frame of Silver

    The Constitution of the United States of America The Constitution of the United States of America Fifty-five delegates from twelve states (Rhode Island declined to participate) traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Constitutional Convention, which began in May 1787. They quickly scrapped the existing Articles of Confederation, and after four months they concluded their business by adopting a new frame of government. On September 17, thirty-nine delegates signed the Constitution. It was nine months before the requisite nine states ratified the Constitution, putting it into effect. The thirteenth state, Rhode Island, did not ratify it until 1790. Subsequently, it has been amended twenty-seven times. September 17, 1787 Preamble We the People of ...
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