Module Introduction

Early National Period

Module Introduction


This module evaluates the Americans’ initial attempt to establish a government under the Articles of Confederation, and why the Articles were eventually replaced by the Constitution. It then traces the development of the Constitution, and the compromises that had to be reached by the Founding Fathers as they created our system of government. The presidencies of George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson are discussed. Module 4 culminates with the War of 1812, the buildup to which dominated foreign policy during the early national period, and the ending of which was a major turning point in America’s development of a national identity.

As you read this module, think about how the writing of the Constitution illustrates the art of political compromise. Why do you think that the Founding Fathers were able to reach compromises, in a very short period of time, while compromise is so difficult for politicians today? What motivated our Founding Fathers to work for the good of the entire country? What lessons can we learn from them? 1

Learning Outcomes

This module addresses the following Course Learning Outcomes listed in the Syllabus for this course:

  • Students will be able to articulate an understanding of the individual in society.
  • Students will be able to think critically about institutions, cultures, and behaviors in their local and/or national environment.
  • Students will understand the social, political, and economic development of the United States.
  • Students will integrate U.S. history into global history. 1

Module Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • Discuss the early development of the American government, including the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.
  • Discuss the challenges faced by George Washington as he served as America’s first president.
  • Evaluate the presidency of John Adams.
  • Evaluate the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. 1

Readings and Resources

  • Module 4 Learning Unit