National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1765-1786: We win a hard-fought Revolution and seize its promise of liberty

May 16, 1776
The states set up republics

The states set up a Republic

“The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the forms of government under which they should live.”
—John Jay

The Continental Congress took a momentous step today. Telling the colonies to “suppress” anyone acting in the name of the crown, they've advised us to set up new governments, “under the authority of the people”

Wednesday December 18, 1776

Eight states have established new governments. Most created strong legislatures, taking pains to keep the executive branch separate from the legislative branch.

Despite our former admiration for Britain's “mixed” government, not one state has copied the British system: no lords, and no king.

Instead, every new government is a republic.

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