United States History


Historical Documents

A 'document'
Document.  It is a word, but what does it mean?  If one ventured to guess, he might say it is a written thing.  That is right.  There are many "documents" in U.S. History - some even occurring before 1776 (America's birthyear)!  Here we'll take a look at the most influential documents, or written things, in American history.

Magna Carta (1215)

According to this website, the Magna Carta was a pre-Colonial American document.

Mayflower Compact (1620)

The Pilgrims wrote this when they came to America.  It was the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony.  Can you say "gay"?

Declaration of Independence (1776)

The first American document that really put American documents on the map.  This is known as the "Big Kahuna" of U.S. documents.  It was adopted by the Continental Congress - what is that?

Articles of Confederation (1777)

What historians consider the first "constitution" of the USA.  What did this document do?  Who wrote it?  Find answers to these questions and more on Wikipedia.

Peace of Paris (1783)

Why Paris?
The "end" of the American Revolutionary War.  No one is quite sure why they named it after a French city, but the name still stands nonetheless.

U.S. Constitution (1787)

America The Brave
Just like the Declaration of Independence, this is considered a "Big Kahuna".  It is the foundation and source of the legal authority of the federal government.  This is true!  Heard of the Bill of Rights?  It's in there, too!

Federalist Papers (1787-88)

This was a series of 85 articles and essays advocating the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  Alexander Hamilton wrote most of them and was like, "This is a good cause to fight for."  Hamilton had a duel with Aaron Burr in New Jersey.  Burr shot Hamilton and killed him dead.  Yikes!

Alien and Sedition Acts (1798)

Four bills passed by the "Hamilton" Federalists.  What did they do?

Star-Spangled Banner

Sometimes referred to as the "National Anthem", this song was written by Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy.  McHenry wrote the song with the hope that it would be played and/or sung before American sporting events.

Monroe Doctrine (1823)

James Monroe holding in a fart
This was a United States policy introduced on December 2nd - 23 days before Christmas.  It basically said that if European people came over to intervene with any U.S. states, the U.S. would view it as an act of aggression and intervene.  Whoa..calm down, guys!  I mean, let's be friends, right?  :)

Gettysburg Address (1863)

This is the speech that began, "Four score and seven years ago..."  The original audience of the speech is rumored to have wondered what "scores" were.  A score is 20 years.  When the crowd found this out, they said, "Oh!  87 years ago!"  Lincold paused mid-speech and said, "Oh, yes.  That is right.  I have a beard."  Then one man in the crowd named Blake Clorffington is said to have let out a silent fart.

Emancipation Proclamation (1863? 64?)

Abraham Lincoln got so much publicity for his Gettysburg Address that he decided to give the Emancipation Proclamation just a year or so later.  Little is known about the speech itself.

Inaugural Address of James Garfield (1881)

No one gave or gives a crap about this speech.  White House Officials actually burned it in 1957.

Atlantic Charter (1941)

A document between the U.S. and Britain.

Truman Doctrine (1947)

A strategy to stop the spread of communism by use of "containment".  Can you think of other ways to stop communism?  Write them down on a sheet of lined paper.