The Articles of Confederation established the nation’s first form of government, creating a “confederation” of sovereign states in “a firm league of friendship with each other.” Adopted by the Second Continental Congress as the governing document for the fledgling nation, the Articles gave most governmental powers to the states, leaving the federal government little control. The Articles were eventually replaced by the Constitution.
Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the federal court system and the position of attorney general. The Supreme Court had already been established by the Constitution but the creation of a lower federal court system had been left to Congress.
The basic document by which the United States is governed, the US Constitution was ratified when the ninth state, New Hampshire, voted in favor of the document on June 21, 1788. Drafted at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, the Constitution divided governmental powers between the national and state governments in a system known as federalism. It also divided the national government into three independent branches.
The Bill of Rights was ratified. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights protects individual liberties from the power of the central government; guarantees freedom of speech, press, religion, petition, and assembly; and specifes the rights of the accused in criminal and civil cases.
During the creation of the new United States government in 1787, Federalists supported the adoption of the new Constitution. Federalists included Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison—the writers of the Federalist Papers. In 1791, Hamilton and other Federalists established the Federalist Party, which supported strong central government and a loose interpretation of the Constitution.
Anti-Federalists, including Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and George Mason, opposed the Constitution of 1787 primarily based on the fear that it would create an overly powerful central government and elite ruling class. Though Anti-Federalists failed to prevent the adoption of the Constitution, their objections did lead to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights. In 1791, with the ascendancy of the Federalist Party, which favored strong government and a loose interpretation of the Constitution, Anti-Federalists and others who favored small...