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Loyola University Chicago

Teaching with Primary Sources

18th Century

1752- Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment took place.

Scientist and Inventor

1754- French and Indian War began

Washington's Diary

Copy of a sketch of the Monongahela, with the field of battle, done by an Indian.

A map of the British and French settlements in North America.

Fort Ticonderoga Battle Plan

Join or Die

1765- To help pay for the cost of keeping British troops in America the British Parliament enacted the Stamp Act.

The Stamps

The Stamp Act

The Repeal of the Stamp Act

1770- The Boston Massacre took place.

Paul Revere Propaganda Boston massacre

Four coffins of men killed in the Boston Massacre

The coffin of Patrick Carr

The Boston Massacre Trial

1773- The Sons of Liberty published Association of the Sons of Liberty in New York

The association of the Sons of Liberty, of New-York.

1773- The Boston Tea Party took place.

1789 Engraving of the Boston Tea Party

1774- Franklin was questioned before the British Parliament

Franklin before the lord's council, Whitehall Chapel, London, 1774

1774- First Continental Congress met.

Continental Congress Asserts Loyalty to the King (Page 1)

Continental Congress Asserts Loyalty to the King (Page 2)

1775- Second Continental Congress met.

Journals of the Continental Congress

1775- Battles of Lexington and Concord.

A plan of the town of Boston with the intrenchments and of His Majesty's forces in 1775

1775- Battle of Bunker Hill took place.

A plan of the action at Bunkers-Hill on the 17th. of June, 1775

1776- Thomas Paine published Common Sense.

Common Sense

1776- Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress.

Declaration of Independence (Print)

The original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence

The original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence (Enlarged)

Jefferson reflects on the Declaration of Independence 50 years later

A print representing the committee of five delegates that was appointed to prepare a declaration of independence.

Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution urging Congress to declare independence.

1777- The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States.

Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

James Madison outlined the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

1778- The Treaty of Alliance was signed with France.

Treaty of Alliance with France

Washington celebrates the new alliance with France

Franklin and Deane sent a letter to Congress on February 8, 1778, announcing the signing of the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. 

1781-The British surrendered at Yorktown.

Washington Records the British Surrender at Yorktown 

1783- The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolutionary War.

The Treaty of Paris

Adams, Franklin, and Jay sent another letter to Congress announcing that the definitive peace treaty had been signed

1786-  Daniel Shay's Rebellion took place.

Jefferson writes to Abigail Adams about Shay's Rebellion

1787- A Constitutional convention took place in Philadelphia.

Elliot's Debates

Farrand's Records

1789- The United States Constitution came into effect.

The Constitution of the United States of America

James Madison's Notes on Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 

1789- The first United States presidential election took place.

George Washington's First Inaugural Address

The Century Magazine published an article providing an overview of Washington's first inauguration

Federal Hall

1791- The United States Bill of Rights was ratified.

Copy of seventeen proposed amendments to the Constitution passed by the House of Representatives on August 24, 1789.

The twelve amendments passed by Congress and sent to the states on September 25, 1789.

A letter from Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette in which he discusses the prospects for ratification of the Constitution and the need for a Bill of Rights. 

1792- Washington was reelected President.  John Adams was chosen as Vice President.

Washington's second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1793

Print of Washington from 1794

1793- Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.

Eli Whitney portrait

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Eli Whitney

1796- U.S. presidential election, 1796.  Adams was elected President.  Jefferson was elected Vice President.

John Adams Print

Inaugural Address of John Adams 

1796- Washington's farewell address. 

Farewell Address

1798- The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed.

Sedition Act

Naturalization Act

An Act Concerning Aliens

An Act Respecting Alien Enemies

Letter from Madison to Jefferson about the Alien and Sedition Acts

Jefferson's Draft of the Kentucky Resolutions