Foundations of U.S. Government


Boston Tea Party

event in 1773 when angry colonists dumped tea into Massachusetts Bay to protest the import taxes levied upon it

Common Sense

pamphlet by Thomas Paine published in January 1776. It advocated colonial separation from Great Britain.

Declaration of Independence

1776 document written to justify the American colonies' separation from the British Empire

English Bill of Rights

1689 document that established the supremacy of Parliament's authority by declaring that the monarch could not suspend laws or levy taxes without Parliament's consent. It also established that people had basic civil liberties, such as the right to a fair trial and protection against excessive bail and fines and against cruel and unusual punishments

French and Indian War

1754–63 conflict that began as the British and French competed for control of the Ohio River valley and escalated into a global war for empire known as the Seven Years' War

Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

document establishing a written framework of government for the Connecticut Colony, adopted in 1639

House of Burgesses

first elected colonial assembly, established in Virginia in 1619

Intolerable Acts

name given by Americans to a set of four laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 as punishment for the Boston Tea Party

Magna Carta

charter signed by King John of England in 1215 to settle a revolt by many of his feudal barons. This "Great Charter" laid out important ideas about limits on government. It declared that the government could not imprison a "free man" or seize his private property "except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.

Mayflower Compact

historic agreement from 1620, the first plan of self-government in the colonies, that served as the voluntary rules of governance and community cooperation within the Plymouth Colony

natural right

any right that all people possess by being human, including the rights to life, liberty, and property

Olive Branch Petition

1775 document written by the Second Continental Congress requesting negotiation of tax and trade policies with the British government

Petition of Right

1628 English document stating the monarch could not levy taxes without Parliament's consent, imprison persons without legal cause, and declare martial law in peacetime

social contract theory

idea that government originates as an agreement between the governed and those who govern

Stamp Act

tax on printed materials in the colonies passed by Parliament in 1765 that led to widespread protests and boycotts