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Establishing a New Nation: 1783-1792


Alexander Hamilton

secretary of the Treasury under George Washington


one who opposed the U.S. Constitution's ratification because of the belief that the federal government was given too much power

Articles of Confederation

first constitution of the United States. The articles established a central government while granting most of the power of government to the states.


(of a legislature) made up of two houses

Bill of Rights

first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which ensure individual protections from the government

checks and balances

principle that the different branches of government can stop actions by the other branches under defined conditions

executive branch

branch of the government that carries out, or executes, laws


system of government in which power is divided and shared between two governing entities


one who supported a strong federal government

Federalist Papers

series of essays supporting the strong federal government outlined in the Constitution

Great Compromise

plan that proposed a legislature made up of a Senate, in which each state had equal representation, and a House of Representatives, in which representation was proportional in relation to the population of each state

James Madison

Virginia delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention who eventually became known as the Father of the Constitution. Madison was elected the fourth president of the United States.

judicial branch

branch of the government that reviews and interprets laws

legislative branch

branch of the government responsible for making laws and appropriating money to fund the government

limited government

principle that government is subject to the laws of the land

New Jersey Plan

plan for government that favored small states by keeping the unicameral legislature formed under the Articles of Confederation and giving each state equal representation

popular sovereignty

political doctrine that the power of government lies in the hands of the people governed and that a government is legitimate only if it has the consent of the governed

Republican Party

political party of Anti-Federalists formed in opposition to the Federalist Party


principle that the people of a country elect representatives to carry out their will

Roger Sherman

Connecticut delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. His proposal—the Great Compromise— outlined a proposed structure for the federal government as a bicameral legislature composed of two houses—a Senate and a House of Representatives.

separation of powers

division of the judicial, executive, and legislative functions of government into distinct, independent bodies

Shays's Rebellion

Massachusetts uprising in 1786–87 led by American Revolution veteran Daniel Shays to protest high taxes and farm foreclosures


authority to self-govern

Three-Fifths Compromise

provided that enslaved individuals would be reckoned as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of both representation and taxation


(of a legislature) made up of one house

Virginia Plan

plan for government favoring large states that established a bicameral legislature in which representation in both houses was based on population