I. COLONIAL AMERICA, 1607-1776
1. COLUMIAN EXCHANGE
The Columbian Exchange refers to the exchange of plants and animals between the New World and Europe following the discovery of America in 1492.
New World crops such as corn, tomatoes, and potatoes had a dramatic effect on the European diet. At the same time, Old World domesticated animals such as horses, cows, and pigs had a dramatic effect on life in the New World.
Mercantilism was the economic philosophy of Great Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Like other mercantile powers, Great Britain sought to increase its wealth and power by obtaining large amounts of gold and silver and by establishing a favorable balance of trade with its colonies.
3. HALF-WAY COVENANT
The Puritans established the Half-Way Covenant to ease requirements for church membership. The Half-Way Covenant allowed the baptism of the children of baptized but unconverted Puritans.
Enlightenment was an eighteenth-century philosophy stressing that reason could be used to improve the human condition.
Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson stressed the idea of natural rights. This can clearly be seen in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Deism is the belief that God created the universe but allowed it to operate through the laws of nature. Deists such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin believed that natural laws could be discovered by the use of human reason.
6. THE FIRST GREAT AWAKENING
This term refers to a wave of religious revivals that spread across the American colonies during the 1730s and 1740s.
II. THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION AND THE CONSTITUTION, 1776-1789
7. REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT/REPUBLICANISM
The term republican government refers to the belief that government should be based on the consent of the people. Republicanism inspired the American revolutionaries of the eighteenth century.
8. SEPARATION OF POWERS
This term refers to the division of power among the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government.
Alexander Hamilton defended the principle of separation of powers when he wrote, “There is no liberty if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers…”
9. CHECKS AND BALANCES
This term refers to a system in which each branch of government can check the power of the other branches. For example, the president can veto a bill passed by Congress, but Congress can override the president’s veto.
III. BUILDING THE NEW NATION, 1787-1860
10. JUDICIAL REVIEW
The Supreme Court can strike down an act of Congress by declaring it unconstitutional. This principle was established in the case of Marbury v. Madison.
11. INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS/AMERICAN SYSTEM
Internal improvements is a term referring to the development of a national transportation system.
The American System refers to a set of proposals designed to unify the nation and strengthen its economy by means of protective tariffs, a national bank, and internal improvements such as canals and new roads. Henry Clay was the chief proponent of the American system.
12. CULT OF DOMESTICITY/REPUBLICAN MOTHERHOOD
This idea refers to the idealization of women in their roles as wives and mothers.
The concept of “republican mother” suggested that women would be responsible for raising their children to be virtuous citizens of the new American republic.
Transcendentalism was a philosophical and literary movement of the 1800s that emphasized living a simple life and celebrating the truth found in nature and in personal emotion and imagination. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were the foremost transcendentalist writers.