Articles of the Constitution
Bill of Rights
The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US), America, or simply the States, is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, 16 territories, a federal district, and various overseas extraterritorial jurisdictions. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 316 million people, the United States is the fourth-largest country by total area and third largest by population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the US mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonization beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The ensuing war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States (the head of state and head of government), Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.
In this article, inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies of British America that supported the American Revolution are primarily referred to as "Americans," with occasional references to "Patriots," "Whigs," "Rebels" or "Revolutionaries." Colonists who supported the British in opposing the Revolution are usually referred to as "Loyalists" or "Tories." The geographical area of the thirteen colonies is often referred to simply as "America".
The American Revolution was a political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America. They first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them and then expelled all royal officials. By 1774 each colony had established a Provincial Congress or an equivalent governmental institution to govern itself, but still recognized the British Crown and their inclusion in the empire. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-establish royalist control. Through the Second Continental Congress, the Americans then managed the armed conflict in response to the British known as the American Revolutionary War (also: American War of Independence, 1775–83).
The history of the United States as covered in American schools and universities typically begins with either Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage to the Americas or with the prehistory of the Native peoples, with the latter approach having become increasingly common in recent decades.
Indigenous peoples lived in what is now the United States for thousands of years and developed complex cultures before European colonists began to arrive, mostly from England, after 1600. The Spanish had early settlements in Florida and the Southwest, and the French along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. By the 1770s, thirteen British colonies contained two and a half million people along the Atlantic coast, east of the Appalachian Mountains. The colonies were prosperous and growing rapidly, and had developed their own autonomous political and legal systems. After driving the French out of North America in 1763, the British imposed a series of new taxes while rejecting the American argument that taxes required representation in Parliament. "No taxation without representation" became the American catch phrase. Tax resistance, especially the Boston Tea Party of 1774, led to punishment by Parliament designed to end self-government in Massachusetts. All 13 colonies united in a Congress that led to armed conflict in April 1775. On July 4, 1776, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson, proclaimed that all men are created equal, and founded a new nation, the United States of America.
The New Jersey Plan (also widely known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government presented by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787. The plan was created in response to the Virginia Plan, which called for two houses of Congress, both elected with apportionment according to population. The less populous states were adamantly opposed to giving most of the control of the national government to the more populous states, and so proposed an alternative plan that would have kept the one-vote-per-state representation under one legislative body from the Articles of Confederation. The New Jersey Plan was opposed by James Madison and Edmund Randolph (the proponents of the Virginia Plan).
The Virginia Plan (also known as the Randolph Plan, after its sponsor, or the Large-State Plan) was a proposal by Virginia delegates for a bicameral legislative branch. The plan was drafted by James Madison while he waited for a quorum to assemble at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The Virginia Plan was notable for its role in setting the overall agenda for debate in the convention and, in particular, for setting forth the idea of population-weighted representation in the proposed national legislature.
The Constitutional Convention gathered in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. The Virginia delegation took the initiative to frame the debate by immediately drawing up and presenting a proposal, for which delegate James Madison is given chief credit. It was, however, Edmund Randolph, the Virginia governor at the time, who officially put it before the convention on May 29, 1787, in the form of 15 resolutions.
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the U.S. state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania, and on the southwest by Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-least extensive, but the 11th-most populous and the most densely populated of the 50 United States. New Jersey lies entirely within the sprawling combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. It is also the third-wealthiest U.S. state by 2011 median household income.
The area was inhabited by Native Americans for more than 2,800 years, with historical tribes such as the Lenape along the coast. In the early 17th century, the Dutch and the Swedes made the first European settlements. The English later seized control of the region, naming it the Province of New Jersey. It was granted as a colony to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton. At this time, it was named after the largest of the English Channel Islands, Jersey, Carteret's birthplace. New Jersey was the site of several decisive battles during the American Revolutionary War.