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SIDDNT
OF THtr LTNITED STATtrS
RICILA.RD O'NEILL and,{\-TONIA D. BRYAN

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Contents

The Founding Fathers

Wffi
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i.,; Expanding Horizons

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5
6

The Struggle

for Union

Reconsttuction and Industry

Woild Conllict and a New Century

Modetn Ametica

The Founding Fathers
f-r

eorge Washingtorl, the first
Upresident of fhe Amedcan
nation, l,as born in 1732. His family
las one of the oldest in Virginia,
where his great-grandfather had settled ir.r
1656. At the age of 21, Washington fought
heroicallv in the French and lndian \Vat
'ithich raged in Canada. He emerged
angered bv the Bitish officers' scorn for
American-born soldiers. Back home, a
r'realtlrr colonial larJotvner. hc rr'a.
strongly against Britain's unfair taxes and
Iand laws, and became more and more
acti\e in resisting B tish rule. When the
revolutionarl, rvar began in 1775, the
Continental Congress chose this up ght
and dignified Virginian as commander in
chief of the Continental arm\.. He re{tLsed
pavme.t for the job.
During the Revolution, \iashington seldom
had more than 10,000 men. Untrained, ragged,
and poorly armed, many deserted. But his
remarkable strength of clraracter kept his frozen
and hungrv soldiers {rom gir.ing up in the bitter
wintel of 1777178, r,r,hen he shared their
hardships at Valley Forge. In October 1781,
Washington trapped the main British force at
Yorkto$,n. They surrendered, ancl the fighting
\{45 ()\eL
After the war, Washington w-ent home to
Mount Vernon, refusir'rg to become dictator of the
ne(, republic. In 1787, he agreed to oversee the
historic coN,ention that resulted in the U.S.
Constitution. On the Constitution! approval, the
"father of his country" rl?s elected president,
taking office in April 1789. His first act \as to
u'ork {or tl.re Bill of Rights. He u,as elected again
in 1792. No one ran against him.
Washington belonged to no political partv for
he war'rted to be fair to all Americans. His
concern was the good of the countr)'. In his
farer.ell speech of 1796, he warnecl against states
arguing between each other and urged caulion in
fonning ties ivith foreign porvers. He flatl,v
refused requests to run ior a third term.
h.r.hinglon dit,d.,l a lhro. t rnfectiun tn
December 1799.

George Washington

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lohn Adams 0797-1801)
ond pre.idcnt. na- bu|n in
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of the top laiq,ers in Boston and spoke out
against unfair British taxation. In 1775, Aclans
Ied the Second Continental Congrcss in formint
the minutemen (militia) of New England into the
Continental armyi he also appointed Washilgton
commander in chief. Adams headed the Board of
War during the Revolution. In 7776, he
dominated the heated debates in Congress that
resulted in the Declaration of lndependence. He
rvrote most oI the Massachusetts state
constitution himself. It would sel\e as a pattern
for other statesAdams spent the years 1780 to 1788 as a
diplomat in Europe. He got Holland
to recosnize the United States
and served as the first U.S.
ministur to Cleat Britain.
On his return, he r,r,as

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vice president, the first man to hold what he
himself cal1ed a "most ir.rsignificant office."
Adams u'as nominated as ihe Federalist
candidate for the presidencv in 1796, narrowiv
beating Thomas Jefferson. When U.S. merchant
ships rvere blocked by French revolutionades,
manv Americans called for lrcr r'r'ith the slotan
'Vilii.,nr t',r detel]re, but r]ol orle cenl l'or
tributel" Adams strengthened the U.S. Navy but
Iost popularity by standing strongh'for peace.
In 1E00, the government moved from
Philadetphia to Whshintton, DC., l,here the
Adams family lound the half finished lvhite
House ver1, uncomfortable. Later thc same vear,
Adams u,as defeated bl.Thom;rs Jeiferson and

retired to a lifc of studv and i,r,ritint rvith his
rvife, Abigail, also a talented writer.
Adams lived longer than anr.other U.S.
President. He died on Jul1.,1, 1826, the
same day as his frier-rd and rival
Jefferson.

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Thomas te fle rs on

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rla,roma- lcttcr-on. llrird pre*id|nt, rtas Lrurn un
I hi* ramilyr planlaliL,n in Albemarle C.rurrtr.
Virginia, in 1743. He dedicated his life to the
pursuit of freedom lbr his nation and its
individual citizens. Jefferson was the nlain autl]or
of the Declaration oi Independence, his finest
monument. He drew it up, workinE; with John
Adams and Benjamir.r Franklin, as a delegate tcr
the Second Continental Congress in 1776. He dicl
not fight in the Revolution, horvevet but aided
Washington while serving as governor of Virginia
tuom 1779 to 1781.
Elected to Cong;ress in 1783, Jefferson rn,as
responsible for simplifving the money system
and fot ner'r, land laws. He returned from service
as minister to France (1785-89) to become
Washington's secretary of state. In 1796, Jefferson
became vice president under John Adams. In
1800, he u.as elected president bv a narrorv
margin but easil1'won teelection in 1E04.
Jefferson belier,'ed that "the best government is
the least go\emment," and he kept Amedca out
of the Napoleonic Wars. Jeffersonian democracy
came to stand for freedom of speech and religior.r,
and for the ghts of individual states rather than
authority centered in the federal government.
Under Jefferson, taxes u,'ere cut and slaves could
no longer be brought into the countrl'. In 1803,
the Louisiana Purchase almost dorrbled the size
of the United States. The 530 million acres of
land cost about three cents each.
Jefferson refused to seek teelection in
180E and retired to Monticello, an elegant
mansion he himself had designed. Here,
among the 1o\€l), gardens he also had
created, he pursued a itide range of
interests, from philosophv and
architecture to natural histortr His
many ir'rventions includecl a decodilg
machine, a polygraph (for copying
handitriting), a su,ir'e1 chai1, and an
improved ploir,'. Jefferson himself
belie\€d that his finest deed nas the
l.,und.rti.,n ,'f the Unirer.rtr ,,f Virginia
in 1819. He died on Julv ,1, 1826, the 50th
anniversarv r:lf the Declaratior-t of
Independence.

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