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Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1780)

A battle in which the Spanish were defeated by the British, defending the colonists, during the Anglo-Spanish War.


New England's Dark Day

An inexplicable day in 1780 in which it was completely dark over New England.


Battle of Hobkirk's Hill

(Apr. 1781) Sometimes referred to as the Second Battle of Camden. Part of the successful American effort to reclaim South Carolina, save for Charleston.


John André

A British officer hanged by the Continental Army in 1780 for being a spy aiding Benedict Arnold.


Battle of Kings Mountain

(Oct. 1780) A strong Patriot victory which was a turning point in the American seizure of the South.


Jack Jouett

Known as the "Paul Revere of the South," for his late night 1781 ride to warn Thomas Jefferson of the British in Virginia.


François Joseph Paul de Grasse

Commanded the French fleet to victory at the Battle of Chesapeake, leading to the decisive Siege of Yorktown.


Siege of Yorktown

(Sept.-Oct. 1781) The most important and crushing defeat of the British, heavily aided by the French.


Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis

The British General who ended the Revolutionary War by surrendering to the Americans.


John Hanson

A man elected president of the Continental Congress in 1781.


Robert Morris

The minister of finance to the Continental Congress who appealed to them to create a national bank.


Articles of Confederation

The early failed governing document of the United States (1781-1788), which did not allow the government to tax, have a standing army, or an executive head.


Crawford expedition

A 1782 campaign to destroy enemy Indian tribes in Ohio Territory. A number of Crawford's men were captured and tortured, Crawford personally was tortured worst of all, in response to that year's brutal Gnadenhutten massacre, in which 100 Natives were slaughtered during prayer. Worsened tensions between Natives and Americans.


Newburgh Conspiracy

(1783) A threatened coup by the Continental Army. An anonymous letter was passed around by soldiers suggesting that they coup Congress because the government doesn't have enough money for their pensions or paychecks. It was squashed by George Washington and lead to Congress giving in to their demands.


Pennsylvania Mutiny

A 1783 anti-government protest in Philadelphia by angry veterans which lead to Congress fleeing and the creation of a capital district.


Treaty of Fort Stanwix

A 1784 treaty between the Iroquois Confederacy, in which representatives agreed to cede all claims to the Ohio territory to the victorious American rebels. The Six Nations counsel and all Indian confederacies rejected this treaty, but other treaties signed in the next twenty years pushed Indians out of Pennsylvania and Ohio.


Land Ordinance of 1785

An ordinance passed by Congress to raise money by selling the land acquired after the Revolutionary War.


Northwest Indian War

(1785-1795) Under the Treaty of Paris, Great Britain ceded to the U.S. "control" of the Northwest Territory, which was occupied by numerous Native American peoples. Despite the treaty, the British kept forts and policies there that supported the natives in the Northwest Territories. Pres. Washington directed the Army to exert American dominion over the land. The U.S. was embarrassed and beat from 1790-91, but ended up forcing the Indians to cede away Ohio in the Treaty of Greenville.


Shays' Rebellion

An armed uprising that took place in central and western Massachusetts, 1786-87. It was caused by an economic depression, aggressive tax and debt collection, and state fiscal policy. It nearly crumbled the fragile United States and lead to the adoption of the Constitution.


Mission Santa Barbara

A historic Spanish mission founded 1786 in present day California for the purpose of converting the Native Americans.


Oliver Ellsworth

A Connecticut delegate at the Constitutional Convention who motioned that the nation should be called the United States.


The Constitutional Convention

A meeting held in Philadelphia in 1787 to address the problems with the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution was created as a result.


Northwest Ordinance

A 1787 act of the Confederated Congress intended to create an unorganized Northwest Territory. It also established the process by which Congress would admit new states. Slavery was banned in this new territory. It was the response to: the westward expansion of American settlers, tense diplomatic relations with Great Britain and Spain, violent confrontations with Indians, the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, and the empty treasury of the American government.


Federalist Papers

A series of 85 articles and essays written between 1887-88 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution.


Cyrus Griffin

The last president of the Continental Congress, he resigned after only two delegates showed up to his last meeting.



The first town established in the Northwest Territory in 1788.


Great New Orleans Fire (1788)

A fire which killed 25% of the population of New Orleans


The Power of Sympathy

(1789) Widely considered to be the first American novel, it was written by William Hill Brown. The novel has ties to American politics and nationhood, and can be read as an allegorical account of the nation's development. The characters' struggles illustrate the dangers of seduction and the pitfalls of giving in to one's passions, while advocating the moral education of women and the use of rational thinking as ways to prevent the consequences of such actions.


United States presidential election, 1788-1789

After presiding over the Continental Congress, Washington's presidency was seen as a foregone conclusion. His reluctance to serve, mindfulness, and capability won him the first election easily. His inauguration became a day of celebration. John Adams became the first vice president.


1st United States Congress

Both seats of this 1789-1791 Congress had a pro-administration majority. They passed the Bill of Rights.


Federal Hall

A building which originally served as the meeting place of Congress while New York City was the U.S. capitol.


Frederick Muhlenberg

The first ever and third Speaker of the House, he changed allegiances to the Anti-Administrations and lost his position briefly, always under Pres. Washington.


Federal department agencies established in 1789:

1) The Department of Foreign Affairs (later renamed the Department of State) 2) The Department of War 3) The Department of the Treasury


Judiciary Act of 1789

Created by the 1st Congress, it established the federal court system much to the anger of anti-federalists. It also established the marshals service.


John Carroll

The first Roman Catholic bishop (as of 1789) and archbishop in the United States.