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From Articles of Confederation to the Constitution

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Mark Chambers

on 24 October 2017

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Transcript of From Articles of Confederation to the Constitution

Making government work
The Articles of Confederation
Drafting the Constitution
Ratification: two views
- government directed by the people
power in the hands of the masses, uneducated
- citizens rule through elected representatives
Base it on virtue - good of the nation above individuals
...or base it on self-interest - gov't lets people gain economically and politically, the nation succeeds
State govt's agreed on liberty over equality and feared centralized authority
Didn't agree on voting rights
White males, land owners, women?
Congress Debates
Representation by population or by state?
Does each state get a vote or does it depend on how many people in a state?
Can supreme power be divided?
Articles of Confederation split power between state and national governments
Who gets Western lands?
Land Ordinance of 1785
- surveys this land to divide it
Northwest Ordinance of 1787
- creates 5 territories
Native Americans? Don't ask them
Problems...and more problems
No unity of states - all states had to agree on amendments... didn't happen often
Financial problems - $160 million in debt (about $4.2 billion today)... and Congress can't tax
Money owed to British merchants - forts on Great Lakes remained in British hands
Spain closes Mississippi river to Western farmers... no way of getting goods out
Bottom line... fears of a strong national government lead to a weak national government
A Stronger Gov't
Shays's Rebellion - angry farmers fight to keep their farms... form a mob to attack courthouses
A convention called to address weaknesses
Philadelphia, PA - delegates from all states (except Rhode Island) attend
Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and others
Conflict => Compromise
Strengthen national gov't and preserve states' rights
Balance the interests of different groups in society
Big state vs. small state problems > representation
Big states want representation by population
Small states want equal representation
What about slavery (or slaves) in representation?
Federalists vs. Antifederalists
Ratification - official approval by the people
In order for Constitution to go into effect, 9 of 13 states would need to ratify
Public would not directly vote
voters elect delegates to cast their votes
sound familiar?
state legislatures likely to reject - took power away from the states
The Bill of Rights
Federalists assured that the Constitution protected the rights of individuals
Antifederalists pointed to the lack of rights explicitly spelled out - could be taken away
Federalist Papers
- 85 essays written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay - support Constitution as is
Letters from the Federal Farmer
- written by Richard Henry Lee - listed rights needed to be protected
What kind of government?
Republic - but how to determine representation? Who holds more power?
Problems with Articles
Constitutional Convention - issues to solve
representation, slavery, economic issues
compromises push forward
separation and division of power, amending process
Federalist vs. Antifederalist views
Importance of a Bill of Rights
The Compromises
Great Compromise
Two house legislature
Senate - equal representation
House - population determines representation
Three-fifths Compromise
Slaves don't count as whole person
This just applies to counting population, not giving votes to slaves
The economic issue of slavery
Southern states wished to continue importing slaves (this was halted during the war)
Congress given power over foreign trade
Did that include slaves?
Solution - Congress wouldn't address the issue for 20 years
A New Government
Division of Powers
Separation of Powers
Changing the Constitution
A Federalist form of government
Enumerated powers - control of foreign affairs, regulating trade between states, coining money
Reserved powers - education, establishing marriage laws, regulating trade within states
Shared powers too?
Right to tax, borrow money, and pay debts
Also to establish courts
Legislative Branch - to make laws
Executive Branch - to carry out laws
Judicial Branch - interpret laws
Each branch has a system of checks and balances - so that no one branch has too much power
Electoral college - voter chosen representatives who choose president
The Constitution becomes a living document
Through the amendment process, the Constitution can be added to
this allows it to change when necessary
13th, 14th, 15th amendments (among others)
The Opposing Forces
- supported by urban merchants, skilled workers and laborers because national government could control trade
Small states with weak economies also support them
- supported by rural areas who thought a stronger central gov't would add to their tax burden
Those who wanted their individual rights explicitly protected
So What's the Big Deal?
Federalist promised a Bill of Rights in return for states accepting the Constitution
Why is this so important?
1st 8 amendments cover individual rights
speech and press, arms, trial, search and seizure, etc
9th - people's rights not restricted to only those written in Constitution
10th - any powers not given the federal gov't belong to the states
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