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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Revolution and New Nation (1751-1815) (x)

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First Decennial Census of the United States, 1790

The first national census showed a total population of 3.9 million people. The results, gathered by U.S. marshals on horseback, were divided into categories of "free white males of 16 years and upwards," "free white males under fifteen years," "free [...]

Thomas Jefferson Decries Slavery in a Draft of the Declaration of Independence

The passage below was included in Thomas Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration of Independence as one of the grievances against King George III of England. Jefferson, a slave owner himself, later wrote in his autobiography that this passage [...]

A Radical Patriot Urges "Common Sense and a Plain Understanding" in the Pennsylvania Constitution

In 1776 Pennsylvania organized a convention to write a new state constitution. James Cannon, a radical patriot leader, advised Pennsylvania militia members to be sure to select delegates to this convention who would respect the rights and authority [...]

A Revolutionary Veteran Describes His Experience (with text supports)

Massachusetts shoemaker Sylvanus Wood served the Patriot cause in the American Revolution in a variety of ways. He fought as a Minuteman at the battle of Lexington and Concord, served three tours of duty in the Continental army, and made shoes for [...]

Congress Signs An Act Respecting Alien Enemies

The Act Respecting Alien Enemies was one of four Alien and Sedition Acts that Congress passed and president Adams signed into law in 1789. The laws were controversial in that they challenged the authority of the Constitution, specifically the Tenth [...]

Congress Passes the First Immigration Law

In March 1790, the newly-formed Congress passed a law establishing the rules for becoming a citizen. Under the law, only "free white persons" who had been in the United States for at least two years were eligible for citizenship, thus excluding free [...]

North Carolina Women Support a Non-importation Campaign

This declaration, reprinted in a London newspaper, provides an example of women's political activism during the revolutionary period. Over fifty "American ladies" from Edenton, North Carolina signed an agreement to stop buying and using tea, British [...]

Colonial Crowds Protest the Stamp Act

Colonists' protests against the Stamp Act took many forms, including hanging and burning effigies of British officials, and destroying the offices and houses of Stamp Act commissioners and royal officials. The following account of an attack on [...]

A Colonial Newspaper Protests The Stamp Act

In 1765 the British Parliament, in an attempt to increase revenue from the colonies to pay for troops and colonial administration, passed the Stamp Act. It required colonists to purchase stamps for many documents and printed items, such as land [...]

Capitol Design Competition: Guidelines

In 1792, with the new nation in need of a physical structures to house its newly-elected government, Thomas Jefferson decided that the design for the Capitol building should be chosen by an open competition. In a newspaper announcement of the [...]