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ST 2.4 Creating the Constitution
Transcript of ST 2.4 Creating the Constitution
Originally, state and national governments were based on the legislature
They also had weak (or no) executives
These governments proved to be ineffective (see 2.3 and the Articles)
Once the U.S. left Britain, they were removed from Britain's mercantile trading system. (more in 2.3)
Which led to an economic crisis that resulted in a depression which really hurt farmers
made it difficult for individuals to pay their mortgages and taxes
Farmers marched on courthouses to prevent foreclosures on their land
a private army funded by Massachusetts elites was formed to put down the rebellion
Unrest frightened the elites and they began calling for a new, stronger central government
Farmers feared a strong government that might keep raising taxes and foreclosing on their farms when they couldn’t pay
Leading to the Convention
The Constitutional Convention
Shays Rebellion led to the Confederation Congress to allow a meeting in Philadelphia to amend the Articles
or American Revolution Part II
needed all 13 states to agree to a change but little Rhode Island did not attend
Since RI did not attend and the Articles were not effective anyways, the delegates decided to scrap them and start from scratch
the "Father of the Constitution"
A bicameral legislature (two houses)
Both house's membership determined by population size
The legislature was very powerful
An executive was planned, but would be chosen by the legislature
The Virginia Plan
Ironically, I'm the president of the Convention because I'm a respected war hero people would listen to.
Building the Constitution
The writing of the Constitution was the result of compromises between those Founding Fathers
The biggest compromises were over the power of the national government compared to the state's power
Many of the debates showed the fear that some states might get more power than others.
Large States favored Madison's Virginia Plan since they would have more representatives (and thus more say)
Small states wanted the NJ plan which would have one vote per state with a similar structure to the Articles
The Great (Connecticut) Compromise
the plan was a bicameral (2 house) legislature
The House of Representatives would be based on population
The Senate would have equal votes for states
The "framers" wanted a strong, but limited federal government and came up with a system of Federalism
the federal (or national, or central) government has some of its powers delegated (given) to the states and they can share other powers
What they all agreed to was that “We the People… do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
This means that power is delegated by the people (to keep with the Dec. of Indy speech) and not from the states.
This actually led to an even bigger issue... some argue that this next issue is even more important than the Great Comp.
The Slavery Compromises
who should be counted for purposes of representation?
International Slave trade was also a concern
Advocates of a strong national government wanted to give the national government control over international trade.
Southern states feared that the national government dominated by northern states with little interest in slavery would abolish the slave trade.
The compromise was that the national government could not regulate the slave trade for 20 years.
The South was right to worry since the international slave trade was outlawed in 1808.
This did not end slavery in the US as a thriving internal slave trade developed
made to reassure delegates who feared giving too much power to the central government
Seperation of Powers
limits the power of the government by dividing governing powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches
so that no one branch could abuse its powers (also allows)
system of Checks and Balances
Since delegates were concerned that the executive would become a king, most powers were delegated to Congress, the chief executive’s term was limited to four years
Electing the President Compromise
While they claimed soveriengty from the people, the framers were afraid of their uncontrolled will (afraid of a "mob")
so they developed the electoral college to buffer the impact of the popular will on the election of the chief executive and devised a system for indirect election of Senators
Debate over Ratifying the Constitution
See an explanation of the Preamble at http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_pre.html
Constitution was sent to special state conventions for ratification
Wanted the Strong National Government
represented the elites of the coastal areas
Afraid of a strong national govnernment
concentrated among the backcountry farmers
feared the power that the elites would have in a strong national government located far away from the influence of the people
believed that state governments would be more responsive to the needs of the people
(didn't they just try that?)
Ratifying the Constitution
Controversy centered on the lack of a bill of rights to protect the rights of the individual against an abusive government.
Several states ratified only on the condition that a bill of rights would be added
The Federalist Papers, written by Federalists Hamilton, Jay and Madison, explained the intentions of the Framers
recognized the language of the Dec. of Indy and asserted the rights that belong to the people and are protected from abuse by the government.
the papers didn't change much, but are often used by modern Americans to understand the intentions
At this point, Jefferson and Madison supported the constitution and were Federalists in the ratification debate...
However, once the Constitution is in place and things start happening they disagree with the Federalist Political Party
Jefferson's Democratic Republicans