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A social system based on a rigid social and political hierarchy based on the ownership of land


a Protestant religious sect that sought to reform the Church of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries


the ownership, for forced labor, of one people by another

French and Indian War

a way fought between France and England, and allied Indians, from 1754 to 1763; resulted in France's expulsion from the New World

Popular Sovereignty

the concept that the citizens are the ultimate source of political power

"Common Sense"

1776 pamphlet by Thomas Paine that persuaded many Americans to support the Revolutionary cause

Declaration of Independence

the political document that dissolved the colonial ties between the United States and Britain


the rules that establish a government

Articles of Confederation

the first constitution of the United States (1777) creating an association of states with weak central government


a government in which independent states unite for common purpose, but retain their own sovereignty

Popular Tyranny

the unrestrained power of the people

Shays's Rebellion

a grassroots uprising (1787) by armed Massachusetts farmers protesting foreclosures

Constitutional Convention

the assembly of fifty-five delegates in the summer of 1787 to recast the Articles of Confederation; the result was the U.S. Constitution


a political system in which the power is divided between the central and regional units


supporters of the constitution who favored a strong central government


advocates of the states' rights who opposed the Constitution

Virginia Plan

a proposal at the Constitutional Convention that congressional representation be based on population, thus favoring the large states

New Jersey Plan

a proposal at the Constitutional Convention that congressional representation be equal, thus favoring small states

The Great Compromise

the constitutional solution to congressional representation: equal votes in the Senate, votes by population in the House

Three-fifths Compromise

the formula for counting five slaves as three people for purposes of representation that reconciled northern and southern factions at the Constitutional Convention


the process through which a proposal is formally approved and adopted by vote

The Federalist Papers

a series of essays written in support of the Constitution to build support for its ratification


groups of citizens united by some common passion or interest and opposed to the rights of other citizens or to the interests of the whole community

Bill of Rights

a summary of citizen rights guaranteed and protected by a government; added to the Constitution as its first ten amendments in order to achieve ratification

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