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Tiffany Robinson

HIST 151

Kimberly Lark


Portfolio Reflection

In early American U.S. history, there were many people and many events that happened

that help shape the country today. There are many things like technology, politics, laws,

education and more that affected the U.S. today. From shaping the colonies, to slavery, to

different wars all play a role in how the county came to be. Many individuals helped shape the

U.S., for example, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. I believe that the

laws and ethics that were put forth and displayed in the early American days had significant

influence on individuals and had a great impact on society.

There are many things that led up to the Declaration of Independence. All the issues that

let up to the Declaration created a sharp division between the British and the Colonist. The

Declaration of Independence I believe is a document of American ethics and standards that

greatly influenced the United States. Thomas Jefferson was a significant individual forming the

Declaration of Independence. The declaration is divided into three different parts. The first part is

the statement of intent and the basic principles.All men are created equal, life, liberty, and

pursuit of happiness and unalienable rights. These statements are referred to in todays

society. The second part is a list of grievances. King George was guilty of "repeated injuries"

that intended to establish "absolute tyranny" in North America. He has "plundered our seas,

burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people." It was difficult for Americans to argue

his points( Module 7- Pre Revolution). The last part of the Declaration informs the British that

the colonists in the New World would be breaking away from Great Britain and forming their

own country. Jefferson had wanted to include another passage blaming the king for the slave

trade that was causing division among the colonies. On July 14,1776, the colonies approved the

message and the Declaration of Independence was dated into history. I believe it is good that we

study the Declaration of Independence because it a part of our nation that we live by. ...

ignorance of history--that is, absent or defective collective memory--does deprive us of the best

available guide for public action (Why Study History). If we did not learn about the

Declaration of Independence then we would be uneducated about some of the most important

history that leads us to how we make decisions today.

The second document that significantly influenced the early Americans was the Bill of

Rights. The first congress amended the constitution by adding the Bill of Rights. James Madison

was one of the individuals that was impacted by the Bill of Rights and also one individual who

help create the laws and ethics in United States today. Madison was selected to create the

amendments that would be sent to the states for approval to create the ten amendments.

Madison skillfully reviewed numerous proposals and examples from state constitutions and

ultimately selected nineteen potential amendments to the Constitution ( Module 11 Unsettled

Domestic Issues). Madison made sure that non of the amendments would make the new central

government weaker. The ten amendments were ratified in 1781. These 10 amendments still stand

as a foundation by what the United States lives by. Without these 10 amendments the United

States would be surround by violence and chaos due to no laws. Everyone has there own beliefs

and values, but many of us don't know why we believe and follow what we follow. History is a

lesson: a lesson of intentions, movements, experiments, and human production; a lesson that

builds integrity and character within our children (What Can History Teach Us Today?). History

can teach us about why we believe in these thing and follow certain rules.

The last ethic that significantly influenced early Americans was slavery. Virginia would

become the first British colony to legally establish slavery in 1661 (Module 5 African American

in the colonies). Africans were immigrants to the British who had no choice as to where they

lived. One of the few African Americans that achieved freedom was Crisps Attucks. He is

important because he contributed to American society. African Americans were rarely treated

with the same respect as the white Americans. However, Crisp Attucks with a few others

achieved freedom the hard way, through a daring escape. Immigrants had to merge their

language, values, and religious beliefs into the white people society. Combing their beliefs with

those of the new world created an African American ethnicity. After the American Revolution

the discussion of slavey was brought up. People began to question whether it was right or not.

The challenge came from several sources, partly from Revolutionary ideals, partly from a new

evangelical religious commitment that stressed the equality of all Christians, and partly from a

decline in the profitability of tobacco in the most significant slave region of Virginia and

adjoining states ( Module 9 Aftermath of the Revolution). This anti-slavery movement began to

take shape. Another key figure was George Washington who fought for American freedom but

also kept many slaves himself. He decided to limit the severity of his plantation discipline and,

ultimately, he even freed his slaves (Module 9 Aftermath of the Revolution). We have to

understand history to understand the present. Learning about slavery and how it started and how

it ended is a big issue in history. However, it is not a big issue in todays society. Learning about

early American history can give us an idea of how the world used to be. A close look at the past

can hardly fail to make us realize the fact that different contexts

and circumstances have yielded a variety of human projects and understandings of the past,

and thus the present (Hodges- Final Essay, On Rhetorical Uses of History to Understand the


I believe that the laws and ethics that were put forth and displayed in the early

American days had significant influence on individuals and had a great impact on society. The

Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and slavery are all laws or ethics that have

contributed to todays society in one way or another. All of these have influenced my sense of

responsibility and contributed to the role toward betterment of society today. The Declaration of

Independence influenced because it states all ethics that Americans and I still follow today. Such

as all men are created equal I follow this because I believe no matter what color skin, if your

Asian or Romanian we are all to be treated equally. The Bill of Rights are all still laws we follow

today. Without the Bill of Rights we wouldn't have had freedom of religion, the right to bear

arms, and protection against unreasonable searches. All these are laws that better the society and

myself as an American today. Lastly, having slavery back in the early American days has shaped

the United States today. The declaration states that all men are created equal before this slavery

was occurring and all men were not being treated equal. Now that slavery came to an end African

Americans and white people all have the same freedom. We live together, vote together, work

together, and even have the highest leader in the land, the president of the United States, voted in

as president a short time ago.


"Early American - US History ." Module 9 Aftermath (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Early American - US History ." Module 5 African Americans in the colonies (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

23 Apr. 2017.

Early American - US History ." Module 11 Domestic Issue (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

"Early American - US History ." Module 7 Pre- Revolution (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Ascd. "What Can History Teach Us Today?" ASCD Express 6.22 - What Can History Teach Us

Today? N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Hodges, Blair. "Hodges- Final Essay, On Rhetorical Uses of History to Understand the Present." N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Why Study History? (1985) | AHA. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.