Study Guide

The Federalist Papers 10 and 51 Timeline

By James Madison

Timeline

March 1st, 1781

Articles of Confederation Ratified

After four years of haggling with the colonies to approve the document, the Articles of Confederation finally got those thirteen votes it needed to become the Government.

The document coined the term "United States of America," and set up a Congress of the Confederation, where each state would be represented according to population.

It basically gave states the majority of power, with the Government getting the left-overs alongside the ability to settle disputes between the states. Under the Articles of Confederation, the government could make laws, but the States didn't necessarily have to follow them.

You can see where the problems are.

October 19th, 1781

The Battle of Yorktown

This was the last battle of the Revolutionary War, where the Continental Army led by George Washington and the French Army led by the Comte de Rochambeau scored a wicked pincer maneuver against the British Troops led by General Cornwallis, forcing his surrender in the last crucial battle of the revolutionary war.

March 15th, 1783

Washington Talks Down a Rebellion

Five days prior, a letter began circling among officers from the Revolutionary War telling them to defy the authority of the United States Government until they got around to actually paying them.

Washington caught wind of the plan and was able to talk his officers down, thus putting an end to what could have been a major political crisis. The weakness of the Articles of Confederation were beginning to show.

June 24th, 1783

Congress Leaves Philadelphia for Princeton

Congress had to duck out of Philadelphia to avoid protests from the veterans of the Revolutionary War, who—surprise—still hadn't yet been paid. Pretty much an embarrassing turn for all parties involved.

September 3rd, 1783

Treaty of Paris Signed

In the City of Lights, Britain and the brand new US of A sign a treaty where Britain agrees to honor the United States' independence and withdraw its presence officially. They had been doing so for the past year at that point, but now it was document-official.

Summer, 1786

Economic Crisis

The United States wasn't doing so hot.

A combination of currency shortages, high taxes, bankruptcies and foreclosures set the United States economy into a downward spiral.

August 31st, 1786

Shays' Rebellion Begins

Daniel Shays, a now-bankrupt farmer who was once a Revolutionary War captain, leads a band of armed rebels to prevent the Northampton court from holding session.

Shays' rebels were fellow veterans who were protesting—you guessed it—to receive adequate payment for their services in the revolutionary war. The rebellion would be put down early the next year, but it spooked the US Congress.

Something needed to be done to give the government the power to fix domestic problems.

May 25th, 1787

Constitutional Convention Begins

After Shays' Rebellion, the writing was on the proverbial wall for the Articles of Confederation. Fifty-five delegates from across the United States would convene in Independence Hall in Pennsylvania to discuss the creation of a new, revised US Government.

Their first vote was to make the meeting top secret, making it infinitely cooler.

September 17, 1787

Constitution Finalized

Thirty-nine delegates vote the Constitution to approval, and then the final copy was signed. It wasn't law yet, but the Constitution they had on the table was the one that would be voted on by the states.

The document would be sent out to the various State Legislatures, who would have to ratify it individually. They needed nine out of thirteen votes to succeed.

October 27, 1787

Federalist Papers Commissioned

The main event.

Alexander Hamilton gets his Federalist pals to write an essay series, published over the following six months, to convince the states to ratify the Constitution. These essays would collectively be known as the Federalist Papers, which is a great name for papers written by Federalists.

June 25th, 1788

Constitution Ratified in Virginia

After a strong and vocal opposition by the Anti-Federalists in the state, Virginia ratifies the constitution by a slim 85/75 vote.

The Anti-Federalists, led by figures such as Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Patrick Henry, had struggled and fought to halt the Constitution, but Virginia was the last state necessary for the Constitution to get the nine votes it needed.

The other four states, at that point, also added their support, making it a solid thirteen out of thirteen states in favor. The Constitution was declared in effect shortly afterwards.