What Happened in 1780s in American History?

The 1780s were a crucial period in American history. This decade saw the United States fighting for its independence from Britain, as well as the establishment of a new government and the ratification of the Constitution. Here’s a look at some of the key events that occurred during this time.

The American Revolution

The Revolutionary War had been raging for several years by the 1780s, and it was beginning to take a toll on both sides. In 1781, the Americans scored a major victory with the surrender of British forces at Yorktown, Virginia. This event marked a turning point in the war and gave hope to the American cause.

The Articles of Confederation

In 1781, the Continental Congress ratified the Articles of Confederation, which served as America’s first constitution. However, this document proved to be inadequate in governing the new nation, and in 1787 it was replaced by the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitutional Convention

In 1787, delegates from all thirteen states gathered in Philadelphia to draft a new constitution. The resulting document established a federal system of government with three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.

Shays’ Rebellion

In 1786-87, farmers in Massachusetts rebelled against high taxes and debt. Led by Daniel Shays, they marched on Springfield with hopes of seizing weapons from an armory there. The rebellion was ultimately put down by state militia forces.

The Northwest Ordinance

In 1787, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance which established procedures for admitting new states to the Union and prohibited slavery in lands north of the Ohio River.

The First Presidential Election

In 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected as America’s first president under the new Constitution. He would go on to serve two terms and set important precedents for the office.


The 1780s were a pivotal decade in American history, marked by war, political upheaval, and the establishment of a new government. These events would shape the country for centuries to come.