The Pilgrim Fathers, Declaration of Independence, War of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Civil War

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The Pilgrim Fathers (Mayflower)

Religious English group formed by the end of the 16th century that, being dissatisfied with the political-religious environment, decided to emigrate, first to Leiden and after to the New World. Left from Plymouth's port in the Mayflower ship on August 15th, 1620 and, traversing the Atlantic Ocean, pretended to get to Jamestown colony, but a storm prevented it and they arrived at Cape Cod. Shortly after, they founded Plymouth. They were gathered by the Puritan Calvinist Church and took refuge from religious persecution and political instability from Europe. (The name was from a biblical passage).

Declaration of Independence

Statement adopted by the 2nd Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. It announced that the 13 American colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain would no longer be under British rule and formed a new nation, the United States. Authority to govern belongs to the people, all people are created equal and have rights and liberty. It is without a doubt one of the most important documents in American history. It was signed by fifty-six different men, representatives from different states. The committee included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was then given the task of writing a draft for the Declaration of Independence.

War of Independence

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a global war that began as a conflict between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies, which declared independence as the United States of America. After 1765, growing philosophical and political differences strained the relationship between Great Britain and its colonies. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted for independence, issuing its declaration on July 4.


It was clear that for the US to survive there would have to be changes in the Articles of Confederation. In February 1787, Congress asked each state to send delegates to a meeting or 'convention' in Philadelphia to talk about such changes. The smallest state, Rhode Island, refused, but the other twelve agreed. The meeting became known as the Constitutional Convention. It began in May 1787, and fifty-five men attended. They chose George Washington to lead their discussions. The delegates disagreed about the changes that were needed. They started afresh and worked out a completely new system of government for the United States. They set out the plan for this government in a document called the Constitution of the US.

Bill of Rights

The Constitution went into effect in March 1789 but was still not really complete. In 1791, ten amendments were made to it. These are called the Bill of Rights. The reason for the Bill of Rights was that the original Constitution had said nothing about the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. The Bill of Rights altered this. It promised all Americans freedom of religion, a free press, free speech, the right to carry arms, the right to a fair trial by jury, and protection against cruel and unusual punishments.

The Civil War

War Between the States, a four-year war (1861–65) between the United States and 11 Southern states that seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The Confederated states (Jefferson Davis) vs Union soldiers (Abraham Lincoln). Causes included industry, farming, state's rights, expansion, slavery, and Bleeding Kansas. The Civil War was a contest marked by the ferocity of battle. One of the main events was the Battle of Fredericksburg, in which General Burnside experienced a disastrous defeat when attacking Confederate forces. The Battle of Gettysburg, from July 1 to July 3, 1863, was the most important engagement of the American Civil War.

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