Confederation to Constitution Timeline
1776 Declaration of Independence.
1777 Articles of Confederation endorsed by the Continental Congress and submitted to the colonies  for ratification.
1781 Articles of Confederation officially "in force" after ratification by the colonies
1783  Treaty of Paris is signed by Great Britain and the United States, ending the Revolutionary  War. Senate ratifies in 1784.
1785 Land Ordinance of 1785 passed by Congress ­ provides for rectangular survey dividing  northwestern territories into townships, which are in turn divided into lots of 640 acres  each, with one lot set aside for public education.
1786 Ordinance of Religious Freedom adopted by Virginia legislature ­ written by Thomas  Jefferson, this statute would later become the model for the first amendment to the  Constitution. 
1786-7 Daniel Shays leads a rebellion of 1,200 men in an attack against federal arsenal in  Springfield, Massachusetts ­ an important incident in influencing the creation of a new Constitution.
1787 Constitutional convention assembles in Philadelphia.
1787 Northwest Ordinance enacted by Congress ­ provides for the eventual incorporation of three to  five new states in the Northwest territories, with the establishment of a bicameral assembly,  freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, public education, and a ban on slavery.
1787 The Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise) is presented by Roger Sherman,  reconciling the Virginia and New Jersey Plans ­ advocates proportional representation  in the House of Representatives and equal representation in the Senate.
1787 Constitution is endorsed by Congress and sent to state legislatures for ratification.
1787 Federalist Papers begin to be published.
1788 The Constitution is in effect after receiving the approval of the requisite nine states.
1789 George Washington is elected first President of the United States. John Adams is Vice President.
1789  War and Treasury Departments are established by Congress. Henry Knox will be the  Secretary of War; Alexander Hamilton will be the Secretary of the Treasury.
1789 Federal Judiciary Act is passed by Congress ­ creates a six-man Supreme Court with a Chief  Justice and five Associate Justices. Also provides for an Attorney General, and for a judicial  system of 13 district courts and three circuit courts. 
1789  The Bill of Rights is submitted by Congress to the states for ratification. 
1789  Thomas Jefferson is officially named Secretary of State; John Jay is named Chief Justice  of the Supreme Court. 
1791 The Bill of Rights is ratified.
1803  The principle of judicial review is established by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison.