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Boston Massacre

confrontation between colonists and British soldiers in front of the Boston customhouse on the night of Marcch 5, 1770 in which nervous British soldiers opened fire on the mob surrounding them, killing 5 colonists and wounding 8 others

Boston Tea Party

Sam Adams led a group of radicals to dump the East India Company's tea into the Boston Harbor in order to provoke the British government to take action that would alienate its colonial supporters and pave the way for rebellion

Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

America's First written constitution. Adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777, The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were the formal basis for America's national government un 1789, when they were supplanted by the Constitution

Annapolis Convention

fall 1786 - many state leaders accepted an invitation from the VA legislature to attend a conference of representatives of all the states. Delegates from 5 states actually attended. A resolution called for Congress to send commissioners to Philadelphia at a later time.

Shays's Rebellion

Daniel Shays, a former army captain, led a farmer rebellion against the Massachusetts government to prevent forclosures


"The makeup or composition of anything"

Great Compromise

An agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that gave each state an equal number of senators regardless of its population but linked representation in the House of Representatives to population

Three-fifths Compromise

An agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 stipulating that for purposes of aportionment of Congressional seats, every slave would be counted as three-fifths of a person


the division of a legislative assembly into two chambers, or houses

Expressed power

the notion that the constitution grants to the Federal government only those powers specifically named in its text

necessary and proper clause

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which enumerates the powers of Congress and provides Congress with the authority to make all laws "necessary and proper" to carry them out; also referred to as the elastic clause

Judicial Review

the power of the courts to declare actions of the legislative and executive branches invalid or unconstitutional. The Supreme Court asserted this power in Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Supremacy Clause

A clause or Article VI of the constitution that states that all laws passed by the national government and all treaties are the supreme laws of the land and superior to all laws adopted by any state or subdivision

Separation of Powers

the division of governmental powers among several institutions that must cooperate in decision making


the system of government in which a constitution divides power between a central government and a regional government

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1791. The Bill of Rights ensures certain rights and liberties to the people.

Checks and Balances

the mechanism through which each branch of government is able to participate in and influence the activities of the other branch


oppressive government that employs the cruel and unjust use of power and authority


supported the constitution and preferred a strong national government


opposed the constitution and preferred a decentralized national government

Federalist Papers

85 essays written under the name Publius by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay between the fall of 1787 and the spring of 1788 supporting the ratification of the Constitution

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