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a government in which citizens rule through elected representatives


the idea that governments should be based on the consent of the people

Articles of Confederation

America's first constitution

Land Ordinance of 1785

A law that divided much of the United States into a system of townships to facilitate the sale of land to settlers.

Northwest Ordinance of 1787

Federal order that divided the Northwest Territory into smaller territories and created a plan for how the territories could become states.


the act of forming an alliance or confederation

Shays's Rebellion

Rebellion led by Daniel Shays of farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786-1787, protesting mortgage foreclosures. It highlighted the need for a strong national government just as the call for the Constitutional Convention went out.

James Madison

Father of the Constitution

Roger Sherman

He helped draft the Great Compromise that determined how states would be represented in Congress

Great Compromise

Compromise made by Constitutional Convention in which states would have equal representation in one house of the legislature and representation based on population in the other house

Three-Fifths Compromise

the agreement by which the number of each state's representatives in Congress would be based on a count of all the free people plus three-fifths of the slaves


a system in which power is divided between the national and state governments

legislative branch

the branch of government that makes the laws.

executive branch

the branch of government that carries out laws

judicial branch

The branch of government that interprets laws

checks and balances

A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power

electoral college

the body of electors who formally elect the United States president and vice-president


official approval


supporters of the constitution


People who opposed the constitution

The Federalist

series of 85 essays written mostly by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton defending the Constitution

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the Constitution

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