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Federalist Papers, Number 2, Text

John Jay, Portrait

Written by John Jay and published on October 31, 1787. WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon to decide a question, which in its consequences must prove one of the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very … Read more

Madison, James

James Madison, Painting

James Madison Biography James Madison was an American statesman, political theorist, and the fourth President of the United States, serving from 1809 to 1817. He is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and is widely regarded as the “Father of the Constitution” for his pivotal role in the drafting of the United … Read more

Jay, John

John Jay, Portrait

Early Life and Education John Jay was born on December 12, 1745. He was the eighth child and sixth son of a family of wealthy New York City merchants. Jay spent his childhood in Rye, New York, near New York City. He received his early education from private tutors. Jay graduated from King’s College, now … Read more

Burr, Aaron

Aaron Burr, Illustration, Sartain

Aaron Burr Biography Aaron Burr was born on February 6, 1756, in Newark, New Jersey, His father, the Reverend Aaron Burr Sr., was a co-founder and then second president of the College of New Jersey — Princeton University. His mother,  Esther Edwards Burr was the daughter of the famous New England theologian Jonathan Edwards. Both … Read more

Rush, Benjamin

Benjamin Rush, Illustration

Quick Facts Born January 4, 1746, in Byberry, Pennsylvania. Graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1760. Received MD degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1768. Elected to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania in 1776. Signed Declaration of Independence in 1776. Appointed Surgeon-general to the armies of the middle department of … Read more

Hamilton, Alexander – Speech to New York Convention

Alexander Hamilton, Portrait

I am persuaded, Mr. Chairman, that I in my turn shall be indulged in addressing the committee. We all in equal sincerity profess to be anxious for the establishment of a republican government on a safe and solid basis. It is the object of the wishes of every honest man in the United States, and … Read more

Continental Congress, Second – Summary

John Hancock, Portrait, Copley

Summary of the Second Continental Congress Although there was still great sentiment among the delegates to seek reconciliation with Great Britain, the movement towards independence could not be reversed.  The delegates were soon forced to turn their attention to forming an army, crafting a Declaration of Independence, conducting the war, and establishing a new national … Read more

Paine, Thomas

Thomas Paine, Portrait, Painting

Early Life and Education Thomas Paine was born on February 9, 1737, in Thetford, a town in Norfolk, England. His parents were Joseph and Frances Pain. From 1744 to 1749, Paine attended the Thetford Grammar School. Around the time he was 12 or 13, he took on a 7-year apprenticeship working for his father making … Read more

Henry, Patrick

Patrick Henry, Founding Father, Illustration

Biography of Patrick Henry Patrick Henry was a Founding Father, member of the Continental Congress, and five-time Governor of Virginia. He is best remembered for his “give me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775, which served as an inspiration for the cause of independence. Henry continued to champion liberty after the Revolution, as … Read more

Stamp Act Congress, 1765, Overview

John Cruger, Jr., Portrait

Stamp Act Congress Summary The Stamp Act Congress was a meeting of 27 delegates from nine of the 13 Original Colonies that took place in New York City from October 7 to October 25, 1765. They met to discuss a unified colonial response to the provisions of the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act was passed … Read more

Tea Act of 1773, Summary

Lord North, Portrait

Summary of the Tea Act of 1773 As a result of colonial protests, in 1770, Parliament repealed the Townshend duties, except for the tax on tea. The colonists responded by boycotting British tea and drinking smuggled tea. By 1773, the British East India Company was in financial distress due in part to the colonial boycott … Read more

Townshend Acts, Summary

Charles Townshend, Portrait, Reynolds

Summary of the Townshend Acts The acts bear the name of Charles Townshend, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed them. The Townshend Acts were based on the premise that Parliament had the authority to govern the colonies as it saw fit, including laws that controlled taxes, courts, and government. Although colonists held to … Read more

Townshend Revenue Act, Summary

Charles Townshend, Portrait, Reynolds

The act bears the name of Charles Townshend, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed it. The general purpose of the act was to establish a revenue flow from the colonies to Great Britain and to tighten Britain’s control over colonial governments. Colonists responded to the act by boycotting British goods and the Massachusetts … Read more

Molasses Act of 1733, Summary

Robert Walpole, Painting

Molasses Act Summary The Molasses Act is considered part of the Acts of Trade and Navigation, which were a series of laws passed by Parliament during the 17th and 18th centuries to ensure profitable control of the industry and commerce of British colonies around the globe.  It received Royal Assent from King George II on … Read more

Stamp Act, Overview

Stamp Act, 1765, History, Overview, Cause of the American Revolution

Stamp Act Summary The Stamp Act of 1765 was an act of Parliament that levied taxes on the American colonies for the purpose of raising revenue for the British Treasury. The bill received Royal Assent from King George III on March 22, 1765, and went into effect on November 1. It required publishers and printers … Read more

Declaratory Act

King George III, Painting

Summary of the Declaratory Act On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, the first direct tax imposed on colonial Americans. To Parliament’s great surprise, outraged Americans responded angrily with legislative protests and street violence. Taken aback by the colonial reaction, and succumbing to pressure from British merchants who were suffering financially from American … Read more

Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth

Charles C. Pinckney, Portrait, Trumbull

Biography of Charles C. Pinckney Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was a Founding Father, a member of the Continental Army, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and a signer of the Constitution. Pinckney also served as an envoy to France during the notorious XYZ Affair, at which time he responded to French bribery efforts with his famous … Read more

Charter of Massachusetts Bay, Text

John Winthrop, Massachusetts Bay Governor

Text of the 1629 Charter of Massachusetts Bay And further, That the said Governour and Companye, and their Successors, maie have forever one comon Seale, to be used in all Causes and Occasions of the said Company, and the same Seale may alter, chaunge, breake, and newe make, from tyme to tyme, at their pleasures. … Read more

Declaration of Independence – Rough Draft

Thomas Jefferson, Painting, Rembrandt Peale

This is a draft of the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson. According to Jefferson, this draft had input from fellow Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. In the version presented here, italicized words or phrases were omitted in the final draft, and words or phrases that appear in brackets were added to … Read more

Washington, George – Last Will and Testament

George Washington, Portrait, Stuart

In the name of God, Amen. I GEORGE WASHINGTON of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States, and lately President of the same, do make, ordain and declare this Instrument; which is written with my own hand and every page thereof subscribed with my name, to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all … Read more