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Building the State (1781-1797)


Key People

key-people Key People
Chief Joseph Brant  -  A Mohawk Chief who had distinguished himself during the Revolutionary War, Joseph Brant organized a military alliance of Native American tribes in the northwest, which, while it faltered because of limited support from certain portions of the Iroquois, presented the government under the Articles of Confederation with a challenge in the west.
Benjamin Franklin  -  An inventor, a writer, and former ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention. The other delegates admired his wisdom, and his advice was crucial in the drafting of the Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton  -  The outspoken leader of the Federalists, Hamilton emerged as a major political figure during the Constitutional Convention, and during the period of ratification, as one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. As Secretary of Treasury under Washington, Alexander Hamilton spearheaded the government's Federalist initiatives, most notably through his proposals on the subject of public credit and the creation of the Bank of the United States.
John Jay  -  John Jay played an important role in the establishment of the new government under the Constitution. One of the authors of The Federalist Papers, he was involved in the drafting of the Constitution, became the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court under Washington, and went on to negotiate Jay's Treaty with Britain to head off war in 1795.
Thomas Jefferson  -  Jefferson attained political fame originally as the author of the Declaration of Independence. A prominent statesman from Virginia, Jefferson became Washington's first Secretary of State. However, in 1793, Jefferson resigned from that post in opposition to Alexander Hamilton's continued efforts to garner power for the national government. With James Madison, Jefferson took up the cause of the strict constructionists and the Republican Party, advocating the limitation of the national government.
Henry Knox  -  Washington appointed Henry Knox his first Secretary of War. Knox played a valuable role in the development of the executive branch. His most notable actions came in relation to the struggle with the Native Americans on the frontier, where he declared the Indian title to the land officially recognized by the US in the early 1790s.
James Madison  -  Madison joined forces with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay as a Federalist leader during the Constitutional Convention and beyond. He was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers and, as a member of the first Congress, a staunch advocate of strong central government. However, after a string of Federalist measures that asserted the power of the national government over the state in questionable areas, Madison defected from the Federalist cause and became a critic of excessive central power. He joined Thomas Jefferson in leading the rising Republican Party.
George Washington  -  Washington, as the general of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was the obvious choice to be the first President of the United States. Washington took on the task of defining the presidency, attempting to establish the role through precedent. He intervened little in legislative affairs, and concentrated mostly on diplomacy and finance. A Federalist, he granted Alexander Hamilton a great deal of support, despite frequent misgivings.

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