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U.S. History - Unit 2, Chapter 5: Creating the Constitution
Transcript of U.S. History - Unit 2, Chapter 5: Creating the Constitution
Creating the Constitution
Section 1: A Confederation of States
After getting rid of a strong national government the Patriots feared creating another tyrannical or abusive parliament so they refused to entrust the new government with much power...this leads to some problems...
Section 2: Drafting the Constitution
Section 3: Ratifying the Constitution
The delegates at the Constitutional Convention had designed a strong federal (national) government.
3 delegates refused to sign the document and many felt that the document was far from perfect.
The Constitution was then copied and sent to all the states for ratification but would the states sign it?
Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
Under the articles of Confederation the national government could not establish a common currency, regulate interstate commerce, or levy taxes.
For financial support the national government had to ask the states to send in money to help pay for the running of the government and the nation's massive war debts.
Between 1781 and 1786 the national government received 1/6 of what it asked for from the state governments.
By 1786, the national gov. needed $2.5 million to pay the interest on its debts but only had $400,000 on hand!
Freedom of Religion
The American Revolution promoted greater religious liberty so many states guaranteed freedom of religion in their constitutions!
Before this time, states collected taxes to support religious establishments.
The freedom to choose among several faiths was controversial.
After the Revolution was over freedom of religion became an accepted ideal in America.
Early State Governments
After declaring independence, each state created their own government. They varied but all were republics (governments in which the people elect their representatives).
Patriots disagreed about the set up of those governments:
Some wanted to put a lot of power in the hands of the people.
Some wanted to put a significant amount of power in the hands of the elite.
Early State Govt. continued
Some states gave a lot of power to the people but most set up their governments like those of Great Britain.
Strong governor, two house legislature (Senate and House of Representatives)
All states expanded power for the common people.
However, in most states only property owning men could vote.
Congress Creates the Articles of Confederation
In 1777, the Continental Congress wrote the Articles of Confederation which was our original constitution.
Confederation: a league or alliance of states that agree to work together.
The document was designed to give each state independence and individual power, with the federal or national government receiving very little power.
Settling the West
One of the first big problems for the new government was deciding how to handle settlement in western lands.
The "Northwest Territory" as it was called included the area north of the Ohio River and west of Pennsylvania.
Settlers wanted to settle the lands but they were coming into conflict with N.A. and the new country couldn't afford another war...they also wanted to make money off the selling of the new land.
Solution: sell land for $1 an acre and relocate 100,000 Indians.
Conflict with Spain and Britain
In an attempt to stop settlers from moving west Spain forbid trade American trade in New Orleans which shut off trade through the Mississippi River.
Great Britain also stopped allowing American ships to trade with other British colonies, most importantly the British West Indies, which hurt the economies of the colonies.
Farmers Revolt in Massachusetts
Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
Congress could not levy or collect taxes
Congress was powerless to regulate interstate commerce and foreign trade
Each state had only one vote in Congress, regardless of its size
A 2/3s majority (9 out of 13 states) was required to pass laws
Articles could only be amended with the consent of all states
No separate executive branch to enforce acts of Congress
No system of federal courts
The delegates at the Constitutional Convention were only supposed to propose amendments to the Constitution but they created a new Constitution instead! How would states react?
Ratification, or official approval, was needed by 9 out of 13 states for the new Constitution to go into affect (the delegates made this up, under the Articles of Confederation it was 13/13).
The delegates also called for specially elected conventions would determine a state's choice for or against the Constitution.
Why do you think the delegates set up specially elected conventions to vote for or against ratification?
Federalists vs. Antifederalists
Those who favored ratification of the Constitution.
This group included George Washington and James Madison.
They stressed the weaknesses of the Articles.
They urged that only a new government based on the new Constitution could solve the nations problems.
Critics of the new Constitution
Disliked the lack of a Bill of Rights that would protect peoples freedoms from the government.
Disliked the increased powers for the central government.
Believed that liberty (personal freedom and choice) would be killed by a strong central gov.
Sam Adams and John Hancock were Antifederalists
The Federalists Gain Support
Many of the "common" people (small farmers, etc.) did not like the Constitution or trust those who supported it (lawyers, merchants, and other wealthy men).
However, the two most trusted men in America did support the Constitution: Ben Franklin and George Washington.
Many of the nations newspapers also supported the Constitution and wrote about their support.
Federalists were also better organized than Antifeds
The Federalist Papers Outline Key Ideas
These papers were a collection of essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay in support of the new Constitution.
They were published in New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788.
These papers argued that things like the separation of powers and the checks and balances set up in the new Constitution would ensure success for the new government and liberty for the people.
The Federalists fought for and won ratification pretty quickly in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut.
These early victories gained momentum for states to come.
Promise of a Bill of Rights (to be added after ratification) got the support of Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, and New Hampshire which adds up to 9 states!
BUT! What are two states that would be needed for the true support of the Constitution in the U.S.?
New York and Virginia
Both narrowly ratified!
In late June of 1788 Virginia passed the Constitution and in July New York narrowly approved the Constitution.
With the ratification of 11 states the Congress made plans for a new government and new temporary capitol in New York.
Rhode Island and North Carolina, who previously rejected the Constitution, reconsidered and passed it.
Adding the Bill of Rights
Because of the demands of the Antifederalists we have a Bill of Rights or the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.
These rights were for individuals and they included:
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Religion
Freedom of Press
Freedom of Assembly
Protection from unreasonable search and seizure
Right to a speedy and public trial
And much more!
Congress passed the Bill of Rights in 1789.
Principles of the New Constitution
The new government and constitution became an example to countries around the world and a symbol of freedom.
The new constitution had 6 principles.
Government can only rule with people's consent.
Doesn't mean small or weak government but it does mean that the government must follow the rule of law!
Separation of Powers
3 branches of government share the power
Legislative, Executive, Judicial
This divides power between the national and state governments...they each have certain powers reserved to them and they share some power too.
Checks and Balances
These are designed to stop one branch or part of the government from becoming too powerful.
Each branch of the government can stop another branch of the government from doing something.
A lot of the framers of the Constitution were not sold on direct democracy. They didn't think the people could be trusted.
That is why they set up representative government. Every election you have the opportunity to elect a politician to make decisions on your behalf.
The Constitution Endures
The Constitution has been in place since 1789.
The constitution is only about 7,000 words long and is broad and often ambiguous enough that we can apply it to our lives today.
The Constitution is still in place today because it allowed for change. The framers of the Constitution created a process for amending, or changing, the Constitution.