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1789: George Washington is the unanimous choice to become the first President of the United States.
1789: President Washington begins to meet regularly with the heads of the Executive Departments (State, Treasury and War), known as the "Cabinet".
1794: George Washington personally leads the army to supress the Whiskey Rebellion, proving that the Constitution and the federal government can survive challenges to their authority.
1796: President Washington retires after two terms and gives his Farewell Address in which he warns of the dangers of political parties and urges the United States to stay neutral in foreign affairs.
1796: In a contested election, Federalist John Adams defeats Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson to become our second President. Laws in effect at the time dictate that the defeated Jefferson now serve as Adam's Vice President.
1797: The French are attacking American ships at sea and demand bribes to stop. Adams refuses to pay and exposes the "XYZ Affair" to the world.
1798: Federalists in Congress pass the Sedition Act of 1798, making it illegal to criticize anyone in the federal government. Democratic-Republicans are infuriated and believe the Act violates freedom of speech.
1799: Madison and Jefferson publish the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves in which they lay out an idea of nulification, tat the states have the power to ignore any federal law they don't agree with.
1800: Thomas Jefferson wins a close and bitterly contested Presidential election in which no candidate receives a majority of the Electoral votes, so the election is decided in the House of Representatives.
1803: The United States pays $15 million to purchase the vast Louisiana territory from Napoleon, known as the Louisiana Purchase.
1803: The ability of the Supreme Court to strike down a law if it is unconstitutional (the principle of judicial review) is established by the case Marbury v. Madison.
1805: Jefferson refuses to pay tribute to the Barbary Coast and instead sends in our Navy and Marines to defeat and destroy the pirates.
1774: Parliament passes the Intolerable Acts, suspending colonial governments and shutting down the port of Boston.
1775: British soldiers attempt to confiscate the weapons of the colonial militia. The colonists fight back, resulting in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. In Philadelphia, the 2nd Continental Congress meets to organize the revolution.
1777: Decisive American victory at the Battle of Saratoga convinces the French to aid the colonists.
1781: The British Army is defeated at the Battle of Yorktown, ending the Revolutionary War.
1783: The Treaty of Paris is signed and American independence is achieved.
1786-87: Angry over taxes and foreclosures, farmers in New England take up arms in Shay's Rebellion.
1787: The Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia to write a new governing document for the United States.
1789-90: North Carolina and Rhode Island are the last two states to ratify the Constitution, making it the law of the land.