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George Washington

The United States declared its independence from Britain on July 4, 1776. At first the new nation was a loosely formed alliance governed under the Articles of Confederation. As we described in previous programs, all this changed when a new plan of government, the Constitution, went into effect on March 4, 1789. There was much to be done to make it work. The machinery of government was untested. Strong leadership was needed, and Washington was the man chosen to provide it.



  


John Adams

 We continue the story of America's second president, John Adams. He took office in 1797. He had served eight years as vice president under President George Washington. Now, state electors had chosen him to govern the new nation.
Adams was an intelligent man. He was a patriot and an able diplomat. But he did not like party politics. This dislike caused trouble during his presidency because two political parties struggled for power during his time in office. Adams was caught in the middle.


  


Thomas Jefferson

On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson walked to the Capitol building in Washington. He was about to be inaugurated as the third president of the United States. He entered the Capitol to the thunder of cannon. All the senators and representatives stood until Jefferson sat down. A few moments later, the newly elected president rose and began to read his inaugural speech.
The most famous line in it is, We are all Federalists, we are all Republicans. It was a statement about after all of the bitter partisanship of the 1790s, as bitter as anything we see in America in the 2010s, Jefferson says hes going to create a kind of bipartisan presidency.


  


Alexander Hamilton


Today we begin the story of Alexander Hamilton. He was one of the countrys founding fathers. He never became president. He did, however, become the countrys first secretary of the treasury.
At that time, the American government was very weak. It had many debts and no money. Many of the countrys citizens did not support their own government. Many wondered if America would last.


  


Jefferson Moves to Cut Debt and Spending

 We have already talked about President Thomas Jeffersons decisions about who would be in his new government. Jefferson was the leader of a new political party, the Republican Party. But not the Republican Party we know today; in fact, Jefferson's party laid the roots for today's Democratic Party.
 During
the election of 1800, the Jeffersonian Republicans struggled bitterly with the opposition party, the Federalists. Jefferson won that election. In his inaugural address of 1801, he said he wanted to work with the Federalists for the good of the nation.

  


Jefferson Arranges Louisiana Purchase

Weve been discussing the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. He was Americas third president, elected in 1800.

In our last program, we talked about a dispute between Jefferson and the chief justice of the United States. Jefferson believed the Constitution gave Congress the right to decide the countrys laws. But Chief Justice John Marshall believed the Supreme Court had the final say.
he two mens beliefs were tested in a case called Marbury versus Madison. John Marshall's arguments won. He wrote a decision saying the Supreme Court had the power to rule on the laws that Congress passed.


  


Jefferson Suspends Trade with Europe

Last time, we talked about the presidential election of 1804. Thomas Jefferson, the nation's third president, was easily re-elected. Jefferson was head of the Democratic-Republican Party, known today as the Democratic Party.
 
Thomas Jefferson had a very good record during his first term as president. He ended many taxes. He paid government debts. And he gained possession of the huge Louisiana Territory from France without going to war.
 
His political opponents were the Federalists.


  


European Conflicts Affect North America

 
This week in our series we tell about the conflicts among the nations in Europe during the eighteenth century and how they affected North America.                                                      
 During the eighteenth century, Spain, France and Britain controlled land in North America. Spain controlled Florida. France was powerful in the northern and central areas. Britain controlled the east. All three nations knew they could not exist together peacefully in North America. The situation could only be settled by war.
 
The powerful European nations already were fighting each other for control of territory and riches all over the world. These small wars continued for more than one hundred years. They were called King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War and the French and Indian War.



  


America's Southern Colonies Expand

This week in our series, we finish the story of the first thirteen American colonies. Well tell about how the southern colonies developed.
 
Among the southern colonies, the northernmost was Maryland. The king of England, Charles the First, gave the land between Virginia and Pennsylvania to George Calvert in sixteen thirty-two. George Calvert was also known as Lord Baltimore. He wanted to start a colony with greater religious freedoms than existed in England. Calvert was Roman Catholic. Catholics could not openly observe their religion in England. They also had to pay money to the government because they did not belong to the Anglican Church, the Church of England.
 
George Calvert never saw the colony that was named Maryland. He died soon after he received the documents giving him the land. The land went to his son Cecil Calvert, who became the next Lord Baltimore. He had the power to collect taxes, fight wars, make laws and


  


Jefferson's Influence on the United States

We have been talking about Thomas Jeffersons second term as president. Historian Joseph Ellis calls it a disaster, defined by the trade embargo and the looming War of 1812.
 
He leaves office in 1808, 1809. He really wants to get out of town and sort of lick his wounds.
 
In the months before he left office, Jefferson had signed a bill banning all trade with Europe. No ships could enter the United States, and no ships could leave. The purpose of the trade embargo was to keep America out of the war between Britain and France.
 
But the embargo slowed the American economy. Many Americans opposed the trade ban.


  


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