This American Revolution timeline lists important events from the revolutionary period, from 1784 and beyond. This timeline has been written and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest an important event for inclusion into this timeline, please contact Alpha History.
January 14th: The Confederation Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris. This marks the official end of the Revolutionary War.
March 1st: In the Confederation Congress, Thomas Jefferson submits a plan for governing the western territories that includes a prohibition on slavery from 1800. Jefferson’s plan is adopted but Congress removes the prohibition on slavery.
June 2nd: The Confederation Congress votes to dissolve the Continental Army.
June 3rd: Congress votes to form the first regiment of the United States Army, mainly to defend western settlements from Native American attacks and uprisings.
July 2nd: The British parliament votes to block American trade ships from British colonies in the West Indies.
January 11th: The Confederation Congress relocates to New York City.
February 24th: John Adams departs for England, where he will serve as United States ambassador to the royal court.
June 1st: American ambassador John Adams has his first audience with King George III.
June 3rd: Congress authorises the sale of the last remaining warship, Alliance, leaving the United States without a navy.
January 16th: Thomas Jefferson’s Ordinance of Religious Freedom is passed by the Virginia legislature. It allows for freedom of religion and outlaws discrimination on religious grounds.
January 21st: James Madison proposes a meeting of state delegates in Annapolis to discuss solutions to political and economic problems plaguing the United States.
August 7th: Congress hears several proposed amendments to the Articles of Confederation that strengthen national controls over foreign and domestic trade.
August 8th: Congress adopts a new national currency, metric in its organisation and based on the dollar. Many states, however, are already using other currencies.
August 22nd: Unrest begins to brew in rural Massachusetts, with town meetings hearing complaints about high state taxes, strict action by the debtors’ courts and shortages of reliable currency.
August 31st: Former Continental Army captain Daniel Shays leads a group of farmers and prevents a debtors’ court in Northampton from sitting.
September 11th: The Annapolis Convention, a forerunner to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, meets in Maryland.
September 20th: A mob in New Hampshire marches on the state assembly and demands that it issue more paper money.
September 26th: Rebels led by Daniel Shays force the closure of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in Springfield.
October 20th: Congress mobilises a militia of some 1,400 men, to protect the federal arsenal in Springfield, Massachusetts.
January 26th: Daniel Shays and 1,200 rebels approach Springfield but are forced to retreat by state militia with superior numbers.
February 21st: Congress authorises a constitutional convention to propose improvements and refinements to the Articles of Confederation. It is scheduled to held in Philadelphia in May.
May 25th: The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia begins, attended by 55 delegates.
June 19th: The Constitutional Convention decides against reworking the Articles of Confederation. Instead, it votes to draft a new national constitution based on three competing branches of government.
July 13th: Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance, a plan for forming new states in the western territories, rather than expanding existing states. The Northwest Ordinance also features protections of individual rights and restrictions on slavery.
July 16th: The three-fifths clause is proposed in the Constitutional Convention, as a compromise between states with large and small populations.
September 12th: A group of delegates to the Constitutional Convention propose a bill of rights.
September 17th: The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia concludes. Their final act is to adopt a draft constitution for the consideration of the 13 states. The constitution will come into effect if ratified by nine or more states (a two-thirds majority).
September 28th: The Confederation Congress votes to send the proposed constitution to state conventions, who will be empowered to vote on ratification.
October 27th: “Federalist No. 1”, the first of the Federalist Papers, is published in New York. Its author is Alexander Hamilton, writing under the pen name Publius.
December 7th: Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the new Constitution.
December 12th: The Pennsylvania state convention votes to ratify the Constitution.
December 18th: The New Jersey state convention votes to ratify the Constitution.
January 2nd: Georgia’s state convention votes to ratify the Constitution.
January 9th: Connecticut’s state convention votes to ratify the Constitution.
February 6th: The Massachusetts state convention votes to ratify the Constitution, while submitting nine suggested amendments.
March 24th: Rhode Island holds a plebiscite on the issue of ratification. The Federalists, who want a state convention similar to those in other states, boycott the plebiscite. Rhode Islanders vote not to ratify the Constitution.
April 28th: Maryland votes to ratify the Constitution.
May 23rd: South Carolina votes to ratify the Constitution.
June 21st: New Hampshire votes to ratify the Constitution, while submitting 12 proposed amendments. Nine states have now ratified, meaning the Constitution can come into effect.
June 25th: The Virginia state convention votes 89-75 to ratify the Convention, despite the opposition of Anti-Federalists like Patrick Henry. The Virginians submit a package of 20 proposed amendments.
July 2nd: The president of the Confederation Congress, Cyrus Griffin, declares that the Constitution is formally adopted, nine states having ratified.
July 21st: North Carolina’s state convention votes to withhold ratification until a bill of rights is adopted.
July 26th: The New York state convention votes to ratify the Constitution.
September 13th: Congress names New York City as the seat of the new national government.
November: The Confederation Congress dissolves; North Carolina ratifies the constitution.
December 15th: Voting begins in first United States presidential election.
January 7th: State legislatures nominate electoral voters to cast ballots for the president.
February: Voting in the first United States presidential election, with votes scheduled for counting in early April.
March 4th: The first United States Congress convenes in New York City.
April 6th: The Senate counts presidential votes and declares George Washington president and John Adams vice-president.
April 16th: Washington leaves his home at Mount Vernon for his inauguration in New York.
April 30th: The inauguration of Washington takes place in Federal Hall, New York City.
May: Georgia begins a revision of its state constitution (passed in February 1777).
May 29th: The Rhode Island state convention votes to ratify the Constitution.
July 4th: Exactly 13 years after the Declaration of Independence, Congress passes its first tax: a customs duty on 30 enumerated items.
July 14th: A crowd in Paris lays siege to the Bastille fortress, later overrunning it and beheading the governor. This marks the start of the French Revolution.
September 24th: Congress passes the Judiciary Act, thus establishing the federal court system.
September 25th: Congress submits 12 proposed constitutional amendments. The first ten of these, later dubbed the Bill of Rights, are eventually adopted.
November 21st: North Carolina votes to ratify the Constitution.
November 26th: Congress institutes a ‘day of Thanksgiving’ to be celebrated every November forthwith.
December 15th: The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are enacted, after being ratified by three-quarters of the states. Collectively they become known as the Bill of Rights.
March 1st: The adoption of the Bill of Rights is formally announced.
December 5th: George Washington wins the second presidential election.