Age of Enlightenment

Enlightenmentthe Enlightenment18th-century philosophy
Locke's theory of natural rights has influenced many political documents, including the United States Declaration of Independence and the French National Constituent Assembly's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The philosophes argued that the establishment of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism and capitalism, the scientific method, religious tolerance and the organization of states into self-governing republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophes in particular to apply rationality to every problem is considered the essential change.

States' rights

states rightsstate's rightsstate sovereignty
Freehling noted that the South's argument for a state's right to secede was different from Thomas Jefferson's, in that Jefferson based such a right on the unalienable equal rights of man. The South's version of such a right was modified to be consistent with slavery, and with the South's blend of democracy and authoritarianism.

Embargo Act of 1807

Embargo ActembargoEmbargo of 1807
Bibliography of Thomas Jefferson. Second-term curse.

Compromise of 1790

bargaincompromisesecret conversations
Jefferson and Madison secured a lucrative debt adjustment for their state of Virginia from Hamilton, as part of the bargain. Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson "as highly placed as they were, lacked the influence to determine by themselves the vote on two such controversial pieces of legislation" and the outcome was beyond the direct control of any single group or individual. Historian Max M. Edling has explained how assumption worked. It was the critical issue; the location of the capital was a bargaining ploy. Hamilton proposed that the federal Treasury take over and pay off the debt states had incurred to pay for the American Revolutionary War.

Old Style and New Style dates

O.S.N.S.Old Style
In contrast, Thomas Jefferson, who lived at the time that the British Isles and colonies eventually converted to the Gregorian calendar, instructed that his tombstone bear his date of birth using the Julian calendar (notated O.S. for Old Style) and his date of death using the Gregorian calendar. At Jefferson's birth the difference was eleven days between the Julian and Gregorian calendars; thus his birthday of 2 April in the Julian calendar is 13 April in the Gregorian calendar. Similarly, George Washington is nowadays officially reported as having been born on 22 February 1732, rather than on 11 February 1731/32 (Julian calendar).

First Continental Congress

FirstContinental Congress1st Continental Congress
Conservatives such as Joseph Galloway, John Dickinson, John Jay, and Edward Rutledge believed their task to be forging policies to pressure Parliament to rescind its unreasonable acts. Their ultimate goal was to develop a reasonable solution to the difficulties and bring about reconciliation between the Colonies and Great Britain. Others such as Patrick Henry, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, and John Adams believed their task to be developing a decisive statement of the rights and liberties of the Colonies.


Used in the United States Declaration of Independence. Father of Lights. Benjamin Franklin used this terminology when proposing that meetings of the Constitutional Convention begin with prayers''. He ought to be worshipped. Virtue and piety are the chief parts of divine worship. We ought to be sorry for our sins and repent of them.

Nullification (U.S. Constitution)

nullificationnullifynull and void
In these resolutions, authors Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued that "the states" have the right to interpret the Constitution and can declare federal laws unconstitutional when the federal government exceeds its delegated powers. These resolutions are considered the foundational documents of the theories of nullification and interposition. The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, written by Jefferson, asserted that the states formed the Constitution as a compact, delegating certain specified powers to the federal government and reserving all other powers to themselves. Each state, as a party to the compact, has a "right to judge for itself" the extent of the federal government's powers.

George III of the United Kingdom

George IIIKing George IIIKing George
The grievances in the United States Declaration of Independence were presented as "repeated injuries and usurpations" that he had committed to establish an "absolute Tyranny" over the colonies. The Declaration's wording has contributed to the American public's perception of George as a tyrant.

XYZ Affair

failed diplomatic attemptsM. HautevalX.Y.Z.
Popular opinion in the United States on relations with France was divided along largely political lines: Federalists took a hard line, favoring a defensive buildup but not necessarily advocating war, while Republicans expressed solidarity with the Republican ideals of the French revolutionaries and did not want to be seen as cooperating with the Federalist Adams administration. Vice President Thomas Jefferson, who had lost the contentious 1796 election to Adams, looked at the Federalists as monarchists who were linked to Britain and therefore hostile to American values. In late May 1797 Adams' cabinet met to discuss French relations and to choose a special commission to France.

Chief Justice of the United States

Chief JusticeChief Justice of the Supreme CourtSupreme Court Chief Justice
The first was John Jay (1789–1795). The current chief justice is John Roberts (since 2005). John Rutledge, Edward Douglass White, Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan Fiske Stone, and William Rehnquist served as associate justice prior to becoming chief justice. The United States Constitution does not explicitly establish an office of Chief Justice, but presupposes its existence with a single reference in Article I, Section 3, Clause 6: "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside." Nothing more is said in the Constitution regarding the office.

State of the Union

annual message to CongressState of the Union Addressannual message
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical (similar to the Speech from the Throne). Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy, and an in-person address to Congress has been delivered nearly every year since. However, there have been exceptions to this rule, with some messages being given solely in writing, and others given both in writing and orally (either in a speech to Congress or through broadcast media).

Washington, D.C.

WashingtonDistrict of ColumbiaWashington, DC
He based his design on plans of cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Karlsruhe, and Milan that Thomas Jefferson had sent to him. L'Enfant's design also envisioned a garden-lined "grand avenue" approximately 1 mi in length and 400 ft wide in the area that is now the National Mall. President Washington dismissed L'Enfant in March 1792 due to conflicts with the three commissioners appointed to supervise the capital's construction. Andrew Ellicott, who had worked with L'Enfant surveying the city, was then tasked with completing the design.


Napoleon BonaparteNapoleon INapoleonic
At first, John VI agreed to close his ports to British trade. The situation changed dramatically after the Franco-Spanish defeat at Trafalgar; John grew bolder and officially resumed diplomatic and trade relations with Britain. Unhappy with this change of policy by the Portuguese government, Napoleon negotiated a secret treaty with Charles IV of Spain and sent an army to invade Portugal. On 17 October 1807, 24,000 French troops under General Junot crossed the Pyrenees with Spanish cooperation and headed towards Portugal to enforce Napoleon's orders.

Richard Henry Lee

Richard LeeFrancis Lightfoot Lee IILee
In 1766, almost ten years before the American Revolutionary War, Lee is credited with having authored the Westmoreland Resolution which was publicly signed by prominent landowners who met at Leedstown, Westmoreland County, Virginia on February 27, 1766. This resolution was signed by four brothers of George Washington as well as Gilbert Campbell. In August 1774, Lee was chosen as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

1804 United States presidential election

18041804 election1804 presidential election
(b) Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements. * Election of 1804 in Counting the Votes John Breckinridge (Kentucky), U.S. Senator. George Clinton (New York), Governor. Gideon Granger (Connecticut), Postmaster General. John Langdon (New Hampshire), former U.S. Senator. Levi Lincoln (Massachusetts), U.S. Attorney General. William Maclay (Pennsylvania), former U.S. Senator. Bibliography of Thomas Jefferson. History of the United States (1789–1849). Second inauguration of Thomas Jefferson. United States House of Representatives elections, 1804. United States Senate elections, 1804.

First Party System

first political partiesparty politicsparty system
In 1800, a critical election galvanized the electorate, sweeping the Federalists out of power, and electing Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party. Adams made a few last minute, "midnight appointments", notably Federalist John Marshall as Chief Justice. Marshall held the post for three decades and used it to federalize the Constitution, much to Jefferson's dismay. As president, Jefferson worked to cleanse the government of Adams's "midnight appointments", withholding the commissions of 25 of 42 appointed judges and removing army officers.

Randolph family of Virginia

Randolph familyRandolphsRandolph
Sir John Randolph, son of William Randolph, was a Speaker of the House of Burgesses, and later Deputy Attorney General for Charles City County, Prince George County, and Henrico County. Peyton Randolph, son of Sir John Randolph, was a speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, chairman of the Virginia Conventions, and the first President of the Continental Congress. Beverley Randolph, grandson of William Randolph, was a Virginia Delegate for Henrico County from 1777 to 1780 and the 8th Governor of Virginia, the first after the US Constitution was ratified. Edmund Randolph, grandson of Sir John Randolph, was an aid-de-camp to George Washington in the American Revolutionary War.