builders of the United States of America.
Sent to the First Continental Congress, he distinguished himself, and in the Second Continental Congress
Declaration of Independence, was a member of the drafting committee, and argued eloquently for it.
Adams was one of the negotiators who drew up the momentous Treaty of Paris to end the American
He helped form, and became a member of, the Virginia Committee of Correspondence. In his paper “A
Summary View of the Rights of British America”, prepared for the First Virginia Convention, he brilliantly
for a decimal system of coinage based on the dollar and drew up a proposed ordinance for the government
of the Northwest Territory, which, although not then adopted, was the basis for the very important
Rights. Jefferson was the first President inaugurated in Washington, a city he had helped to plan. He
believed that the Federal government should be concerned mostly with foreign affairs, leaving the states
and local governments free to administer local matters. Despite his contention that the Constitution must
be interpreted strictly, he pushed through the Louisiana Purchase, even though such an action was nowhere
John Marshall’s brilliant skill in argument made him one of the most esteemed of the many great
lawyers of Virginia. A defender of the new U.S. Constitution at the Virginia ratifying convention, Marshall
later staunchly supported the Federalist administration. He accepted appointment as one of the
commissioners to France in the diplomatic dispute that ended in the XYZ Affair. Marshall’s effectiveness
an anomalous position in the Federal scheme to power and majesty, and he molded the Constitution by the
strong disagreements with Jefferson and later Presidents. He made incontrovertible the previously
specific powers and on the other hand as a living instrument that should be broadly interpreted so as to give
commerce clause of the Constitution, most notably in Gibbons v. Ogden, made it a powerful extension of
Federal power at the expense of the states. The sometimes undignified quarrel with Jefferson reached a
clause in the Constitution requiring proof of an “overt act” for conviction of treason so that Burr escaped
conviction because he had engaged only in a conspiracy. Marshall’s difficulties with President Jackson
decision that the state flouted. Marshall in his manners combined the unceremonious heartiness of the
his integrity that he gained the admiration of his enemies and the unbounded affection of his friends.
The great orator Henry Clay played a major role in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1810
Clay was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served as speaker. As spokesman of Western
expansionist interests and leader of the “war hawks,” Clay stirred up enthusiasm for war with Great Britain
the Treaty of Ghent. He again served in the House, again was speaker, and began to formulate his
“American system,” a national program that ultimately included federal aid for internal improvements and
tariff protection of American industries. In 1821, Clay, to pacify sectional interests, pushed the Missouri
much to augment the powers of that office. In this session he secured the western extension of the National
Road and, against much opposition, eloquently carried through the Tariff of 1824. As Secretary of State,
he secured congressional approval—which came too late for the American delegates to attend—of U.S.
participation in the Pan American Congress of 1826. Working, even at the cost of his own protectionist
views, toward a compromise with the John C. Calhoun faction, he helped to promote the Compromise
superior claims of the Union, and was chiefly instrumental in shaping the Compromise of 1850. It was the
third time that he saved the Union in a crisis, and thus he has been called the Great Pacificator and the
favorite advisers—was powerful. Jackson stood firmly for the Union and had the Force Bill of 1833 passed
to coerce South Carolina into accepting the Federal tariff, but a compromise tariff was rushed through and
the affair ended. Jackson, on the other hand, took the part of Georgia in its insistence on states’ rights and
the privilege of ousting the Cherokee Nation; he refused to aid in enforcing the Supreme Court’s decision
against Georgia, and the tribe was illegally removed. Jackson’s long fight against the Bank of the United
having a bill to re-charter it passed in 1832. Jackson vetoed the measure, and the powerful interests of the
bank were joined with the other opponents of Jackson in a bitter struggle with the anti-bank Jacksonians.
Jackson promptly removed the funds from the bank and put them in chosen state banks (the “pet banks”).
He was despised as a high-handed and capricious dictator by his enemies and revered as a forceful
democratic leader by his followers. Although he was known as a frontiersman, Jackson was personally
dignified, courteous, and gentlemanly—with a devotion to the “American working-man” that led him into
continue to shape our country into a superior nation.