Building the State (1781-1797)
July 4, 1776: Declaration of Independence is Approved by Congress Independence is proposed on June 9 by Richard Henry Lee. Less than a month later, on the most celebrated day in the nation's history, Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence is adopted by Congress.
November 17, 1777: The Articles of Confederation are Adopted by Congress The Articles of Confederation, brought to Congress on July 12, 1776, are officially adopted and sent to the states for ratification.
March 1, 1781: The Articles of Confederation Become Law Maryland is the last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation and they become the law of the land.
September 3, 1783: The Treaty of Paris is Signed After nearly a year of peace talks, the Treaty of Paris is finally signed, officially granting the US its independence.
May 20, 1785: The Ordinance of 1785 is Passed The Ordinance of 1785 establishes the protocol for settlement of western lands.
1786: Chief Joseph Brant Organizes an Alliance of the Northwest Tribes Chief Joseph Brant allies the tribes of the northwest wilderness in an effort to resist white settlement on Indian lands.
August 1786: Outbreak of Shays' Rebellion Western Massachusetts farmers, under the pressures of economic depression, organize in an attempt to shut down three county courthouses through violent means. The rebellion is put down, but highlight the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.
September 11 - 14, 1786: The Annapolis Convention Originally planning to discuss the promotion of interstate commerce, delegates from five states meet at Annapolis and end up suggesting a convention to amend the Articles of Confederation.
May 25 - September 27, 1787: The Constitutional Convention Delegates of every state but Rhode Island meet in Philadelphia to discuss the amendment of the Articles of Confederation. Though it was not their original intent they decide to scrap the Articles, and produce the Constitution, laying out a new framework of government.
July 13,1787: The Northwest Ordinance is Passed The Northwest Ordinance defines the process by which new states could be admitted into the Union from the Northwest Territory.
July 17, 1787: The Connecticut Compromise is Approved by the Constitutional Convention Ending weeks of stalemate, the Connecticut Compromise reconciles the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan for determining legislative representation in Congress. The Connecticut Compromise establishes equal representation for all states in the Senate and proportional representation by population in the House of Representatives.
September 17, 1787: The Constitution, in its Final Form, is Approved by the Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention officially endorses the Constitution and sends it to the states for ratification.
June 21, 1788: New Hampshire Becomes the Ninth State To Ratify the Constitution Having been ratified by two-thirds of the states, the Constitution becomes the law of the land.
June 25, 1788: Virginia Ratifies the Constitution Following nearly a year of intense debate, Federalists win out in Virginia, which ratifies the Constitution.
July 26, 1788: New York Ratifies the Constitution Following Virginia's lead, New York ratifies the Constitution. The two states represent the most crucial states to the functioning of the Union; their ratification ensures the success of the Constitution.
March 4, 1789: The First Congress Under the Constitution Convenes in New York The first Congress convenes, symbolizing the beginning of a long period of working out the details of the new government.
April 30, 1789: George Washington is Inaugurated Washington, the nation's first president, takes the Oath of Office.
January 1790: Alexander Hamilton presents his Report on Public Credit to Congress Hamilton suggests the national assumption of state debt, the sale of US government bonds, and the establishment of a permanent national debt. Though met with opposition, his measures pass in Congress.
December 1790: Alexander Hamilton presents his Report on a National Bank to Congress Hamilton's most controversial proposal, he suggests the creation of the Bank of the United States as a depository for federal revenue and a source of federal loans. The bank is granted a twenty-year charter in February 1791.
December 1791: Alexander Hamilton presents his Report on Manufacturers to Congress Hamilton's report on Manufactures suggests a policy of protectionism, levying high tariffs on imports and providing incentives for goods to be imported on American ships. The high tariffs do not pass Congress, but a number of protectionist proposals do.
June 1, 1792: Kentucky admitted to the Union As the US expands into the Southwest, Kentucky becomes the first new state in that region. It is followed on June 1, 1796 by Tennessee.
April 22, 1793: Washington issues the Proclamation of American Neutrality The Proclamation of American Neutrality is Washington's response to the division of the nation between those advocating support of the French and those in favor of the British; those two nations had gone to war with one another as part of the fallout of the French Revolution.
February 1794: Canada's Royal Governor Denies US Claims to Land in the Northwest Territory Canada's royal government, speaking to a Native American audience, denies US claims to land north of the Ohio River as granted by the Treaty of Paris. He encourages Indian tribes to resist white settlement of the land, and the British begin construction of Fort Miami on US territory.
July 1794: The Whiskey Rebellion Distillers in western Pennsylvania, angry at the imposition of a heavy excise tax on Whiskey rebel, attack a tax collector, lay siege to the house of the chief revenue officer's house, and threaten to secede. George Washington himself led troops into Pennsylvania to crush the rebellion.
June 25, 1795: Jay's Treaty is Signed Jay's Treaty provides for the removal of British troops from American land, and avoids the outbreak of war with Britain.
August 3, 1795: The Treaty of Greenville is Signed General Anthony Wayne concludes his military campaign against the Indians of the northwest with this treaty, which ends hostilities and opens the land that is now Ohio to settlement.
October 27, 1795: The Treaty of San Lorenzo is Signed The Treaty of San Lorenzo heads off war with Spain, removes Spanish troops from American land, and opens the Mississippi to US commerce.
September 19, 1796: Washington's Farewell Address After two terms, George Washington officially resigns the presidency, exhorting future generations to avoid the division of the nation into political parties and to maintain an isolationist foreign policy.