The National CONTINENTAL CONGRESS Historical Society

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Below: Forgotten History, Classroom Resources and Field Trips
How to Rediscover America's Forgotten History
If your textbooks do not go into detail about the 1st American Republic, the one before the Constitution, we can help you teach it in the classroom:

* There was an original form of government used by the United States under an initial constitution, the Articles of Confederation, a unitary structure that consisting of a unicameral Congress that included officers such as a president, a chair, and a secretary. Between 1774 and 1788 there were 14 separate men who held the title of "President" before George Washington. This first type of United States government, and the presidents who served before Washington, are mostly ignored by mainstream historians.

*  The unicameral version of Congress met in eight cities before Washington, D.C.: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton and New York City. These eight cities served as temporary capitals of the United States.

* The handwritten Treaty of Paris signed in France by John Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin is a separate document from the printed, ratified Treaty of Paris Proclamation; it was the ratified version that was signed in Annapolis by President Thomas Mifflin and Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson, then embossed with the seal of Congress and shipped back to France to be exchanged with Britain's ratified version in order to bring the war to an official, formal conclusion. Thus, Annapolis is known for the ratified version, not the handwritten version, although most people don't know that the handwritten and printed versions are two separate documents.

* The 1783 Treaty of Paris not only ended the Revolutionary War, it also began the Treaty of Paris Period, a four year, frantic effort to raise the huge sums of money necessary to pay both the foreign creditors named in the Treaty (Great Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands) and the American soldiers who had not been paid in full for their service during the war, may of whom later took part in Shays's Rebellion. The Treaty of Paris Period ended when the Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia, which created a new Constitution giving Congress the power to raise the funds necessary to pay the nation's debts. The first bicameral Congress from 1789-91 spent most of their time doing just that.

* There were two important steps taken during the Treaty of Paris Period that led to the third and final step, the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The first two steps took place at Mount Vernon in 1785 and at Annapolis in 1786. These preliminary meetings between several of the states led to Congress calling for a third meeting in Philadelphia that became the Constitutional Convention.

* Annapolis played a major role during the Treaty of Paris Period. The Maryland State House hosted Congress from 1783-84, during which time General George Washington resigned from the Army as Commander-in-Chief, the Treaty of Paris was ratified, Delegate Thomas Jefferson authored what would in time become the Northwest Ordinance and then was appointed to France as a minister (eventually becoming Ambassador) and John Jay was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs. After Congress left Annapolis in 1784, Annapolis resident Samuel Chase took part in a Maryland delegation that met Virginia representatives in Mount Vernon in 1785 to discuss the use of the Potomac River. After the Mount Vernon Compact was signed, Annapolis hosted a meeting in 1786 between five states that evaluated the Articles of Confederation and concluded that under this document, Congress would not be able to pay the nation's debts. Their report to Congress, written by Alexander Hamilton and assisted by James Madison, called for another meeting in 1787 in Philadelphia to be attended by all of the states. Thus, Annapolis served as a bridge, connecting the Revolution to the Constitution.
Classroom Resources
However, the resources below can help you teach the Treaty of Paris Period in the classroom:

* An online "14 Forgotten Presidents Before George Washington" website of portraits. 

* The "14 Forgotten Presidents Before Washington" lesson plan and slide show. 

* The Treaty of Paris Period (1783-87), a 15-minute film produced by Annapolis City TV.

* The Treaty of Paris Period online chronology, with video clips and images.

* Treaty of Paris Period lectures and newspaper articles.

* Treaty of Paris Period replica documents.

* The America's Four United Republics supplemental curriculum designed by Stanley Klos and the University of Pennsylvania.

* Ten minute Youtube clips designed by Stanley Klos covering the pre-Constitution period.

* An online "Secrets of American History" quiz covering 14 key dates within the Treaty of Paris Period.
Field Trips
Take your students to Annapolis to experience this history up close:
* The "America's 14 Forgotten Presidents Before Washington" exhibit at the Westin in Annapolis.

* The self-guided Treaty of Paris Trail through the historical district of Annapolis.

* The Maryland State House in Annapolis, featuring a redesigned Old Senate Chamber with an accompanying exhibit focusing on the resignation of General George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, a selfless act that paved the way for civilian government to become a permanent feature of the new United States.

* The Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis.

* The Chase Lloyd House in Annapolis.

* The Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis.

* The site of Mann's Tavern in Annapolis.

TEACHERS, it is up to you to bring the first form of government back to life for your students. How long will your students continue to believe that there has only been one constitution or that there were no presidents before George Washington?