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America's History in the Making

The New Nation

Theme 1

In the period following the Revolution, Americans disagreed over the nature and extent of federal power and representative government.

The shared experience of fighting for independence obscured many political differences, which became obvious once the war ended. A group, known as Federalists, lamented the new government’s weakness: Its inability to confront European powers or internal strife. Anti-Federalists retorted that liberty remained more healthy and sure when power was spread broadly and resided in states.

Although the Federalists eventually won the battle over the Constitution, the document contained many compromises and enshrined some key principles of liberty in its Bill of Rights.

Primary Sources

Texts

Text Artifact

Bill of Rights

James Madison, BILL OF RIGHTS (1791). Courtesy the National Archives and Records Administration.


Artifacts

Painting of Election Day, Philadelphia, 1815

John Lewis Krimmel, ELECTION DAY AT THE STATE HOUSE, (1815). Courtesy the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Accession no. Bc47K897).

Next Go to Theme 2

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