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Federalist Papers

A series of 85 political essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in support of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.


Those who favored a stronger national government and supported the proposed U.S. Constitution; later became the first political party.

First Continental Congress

Meeting held in Philadelphia from September 5th to October 26th, 1774, in which fifty-six delegates (from every colony except Georgia) adopted a resolution in opposition to the Intolerable Acts.

Full Faith and Credit Clause

Section of Article IV of the Constitution that ensures judicial decrees and contracts made in one state will be binding and enforceable in any other state.

Great Compromise

The final decision of the Constitutional Convention to create a two-house legislature with the lower house elected by the people and with the powers divided between the two houses.

Implied Powers

Powers derived from the enumerated powers and the necessary and proper clause. These powers are not stated specifically but are considered to be reasonably implied through the exercise of delegated powers.


an economic policy under which nations sought to increase their wealth and power by obtaining large amounts of gold and silver and by selling more goods than they bought

Necessary and Proper Clause

"The last clause in Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution, which gives Congress the means to execute its enumerated powers. This clause is the basis for Congress's implied powers. Also called the elastic clause."

New Jersey Plan

a plan, unsuccessfully proposed at the Constitutional Convention, providing for a single legislative house with equal representation for each state.

Second Continental Congress

Meeting of colonial delegates in Philadelphia to decide, among other things, how to react to fighting at Lexington and Concord and how to move forward in taking action against Britain.

Separation of Powers

A constitutional structure of government where legal authority is divided between various institutions. In the United States, the Constitution divides federal authority between the President, Congress and the Supreme Court.

Shay's Rebellion

A 1786 rebellion in which an army of 1500 disgruntled and angry farmers led by Daniel Shay marched to Springfield, MA and forcibly restrained the state court from foreclosing on their farms. Shay's Rebellion was one of the first tests of how the new nation's government would handle uprisings of disgruntled citizens.

Stamp Act Congress

A meeting of delegations from many of the colonies, the congress was formed to protest the newly passed Stamp Act It adopted a declaration of rights as well as sent letters of complaints to the king and parliament, and it showed signs of colonial unity and organized resistance.

Supremacy Clause

Portion of the Article VI of the Constitution mandating that national law is supreme to all other laws passed by the state or any other subdivision of the government.

Three Fifths Compromise

Agreement reached by the Constitutional Convention stipulating that each slave was three-fifths of a person for the purpose of counting the population of slave holding states to determine how many people each house could send to the House of Representatives

Virginia Plan

The Virginia Plan was presented to the Constitutional Convention and proposed the creation of a bicameral legislature with representation in both houses proportional to population. The Virginia Plan favored the large states, which would have a much greater voice. In opposition, the small states proposed the New Jersey Plan. In the end, the two sides found common ground through the Connecticut Compromise.

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