From Confederation to Nation
Experimental Period 1776 - 1789
America flexed it wings
was more of a domestic
evolution of social custom; government and even gender roles.
*About 80,000 Loyalists left America caused leaving
a weakened upper crust. (No Conservatives)
Result: A sweeping feeling of equality across the land
of trade organizations for artisans and laborers.
*Property holding requirements were softened, not eliminated.
*Feelings for Separation of church and state very strong.
*Declaration of Independence
raised America's consciousness concerning slavery.
Continental Congress abolished slave trade and all states complied.
Some Northern states abolished slavery completely
Some Virginia plantation owners released their slaves
Inter-racial marriages laws did emerge in Virginia
Slavery was not abolished completely.
Founding Fathers allowed the democratic fever to pass over slavery while they kept their fragile alliance together.
Women - Democracy defined their roles as keepers of "civic virtue"
The idea of
"Republican Motherhood" took root
- elevated women to the prestigious role of special keepers of the nation's conscience
Creation of State Governments
The Continental Congress in 1776 called upon the states to draft new constitutions.(to establish themselves as being
Connecticut and Rhode Island revised their colonial charters to include the new democratic spirit.
contributed a special innovation when it called a special convention of representatives who drafted a constitution to be ratified
by the people. Once adopted in 1780, it could only be changed by the convention procedure.
* This process was
imitated later with the drafting and ratification of the Constitution.
* Massachusetts constitution is the oldest
one of its nature
New state constitutions were similar
superior to the transient whims
of ordinary legislation
Bills of Rights
Protecting the individual rights and freedoms of its citizens against
Annual election of legislators
- holders of the real power
Weak executive and judicial branches
** The fear of an all-powerful despot was felt
** The poorer western settlements now had a voice in the new democracy.
Economic Independence caused some immediate problems.
* Lack of Markets
There was a keen distaste for taxes and a resentment to authority
Loyalists lands were
seized and parceled out preventing a whole scale revolt within the Revolution (avoiding what would later happen in France)
Articles of Confederation 1781
"A firm league of friendship"
Adopted by Congress in
1777, finally approved of by 1781
-No executive branch; the judiciary was left to the individual states
governments remained sovereign
Each state had a single vote (problem of population)
Strong State Governments
prohibited the weak central govt. from:
1) regulating foreign and interstate commerce
2) enforcing acts of the
3) having a national court system
4) the central govt from passing necessary laws
was needed to amend the articles
The national government in Philadelphia could advise, recommend and request(govt
Problem - Land holdings of the states
(During and after the War)
States held on to
land east of the Mississippi River
Equity problem between large and small states
is giving control to Congress and everyone signs the Articles of Confederation
(Protection during the War)
Ordinance of 1785 - the area of the Old Northwest should be sold and the proceeds used to pay off the national debt (640 acre
parcels or 1 square mile)
Northwest Ordinance 1787-
as proposed by Thomas Jefferson
1. Territorial stage
under the control of the Government. It named the Governor, a secretary, 3 judges
2. Territory with 5000 people
could elect a legislature and govern themselves
3. After 60,000 people a territory could apply for statehood and be
admitted to the union as an equal
"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as natural in the
political world as storms in the Physical.....It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."
Shay's Rebellion - brought on by an ineffective central government's ability to regulate commerce
and deal with local problems.
During the severe economic depression after the Treaty of Paris in 1783
taxed each other. How much is a NY dollar worth? A Conn. dollar?
Inflation and of course, farm debts
squabbling over commerce became a major problem. In 1786, Virginia and Maryland met and resolved commerce problems successfully(with
A convention of all the states was called at Annapolis, Maryland
Only 5 states were represented.
Alexander Hamilton drafted a report calling Congress (in NY City) to summon a convention in Philadelphia the following
year. Purpose was to revise Articles of Confederation.
The Philadelphia Convention aka
May 25, 1787
74 delegates were elected, only 55 attended the Convention.
was not represented
55 of the most remarkable men ever assembled. (A convention of "demigods" ....Thomas Jefferson)
*Many had played active roles in leading the Revolution;
*fought in the War for Independence;
*served in the
George Washington was
unanimously elected President
of the Convention.
the convention were
Jefferson, Adams, Paine
Sam Adams, John Hancock, Richard Henry Lee not elected
Henry "I smell a rat"
Sessions were held in complete secrecy with armed sentinels at the door of the Philadelphia
James Madison became floor leader in his Notes gives us a record of the convention.
They were nationalists in nature; preserving the new Republic
Bottom Line - they wanted it to work!
Revise the government so it could
1) regulate trade
2) coin money
3) enforce acts
delegate Edmund Randolph's
May 30th resolution was approved.**
That a new national government be established with
a supreme Legislative, Executive, Judiciary
No longer were they there to revise the Articles of Confederation but
here to create a new Republic
Everyone gave up a little and no one received everything.
3 Major Compromises
of the Convention
1)The Great Compromise
The Virginia Plan -
a favorite of the larger more populated States
- written by Madison, presented by Randolph
a) bicameral legislative body resembling the Virginia's Colonial Congress
b) representation would be based on population and money
The New Jersey Plan
a favorite of smaller
and less populated States written by William Patterson
a)unicameral Congress representing each State equally.
a plural executive branch
Sherman, Johnson, Ellsworth
1. Bicameral Legislative
a) Senate - Equal representation
b) House of Representatives- representation based on population
Executive Branch to enforce the laws
3. A Judiciary Branch to uphold the laws
Executive Power is consolidated
within the President.
a)The power of appointment
with the advise and consent of the Senate
Commander-in -Chief of the military
The system of checks and balances prevents any branch of dominating the national
2) The 3/5ths Compromise
- Slaves were counted as
Three- Fifths a person when a States
population was calculated. They, however, would be counted this way when taxes were levied by Congress.
The Federal Government could control National Trade but would not tax exports from the States or interfere
with Slave Trade for at least 20 Years.
* * *
Types of Government
strong central government
that binds individual states
- loose organization of independent, sovereign states
Federalists - Hamilton, Madison, Jay
* stressed and exposed the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. The
new government needed:
1) power to control interstate commerce
2) the power to tax
3) a Federal Court system
easier amending process
* Federalists rationalized that the new Republic would only work if all the States would ratify
the new Constitution.
- Richard Henry Lee Patrick Henry, John Hancock,Sam Adams
1) a strong Executive
2) Federal Taxing
3) diminished state Power
4) the absence of a Bill of Rights in
Also they protested
The absence of any mention of God.
The denial of printing money to the States.
Increased power of central govt
The 9/13 Ratification process
The Constitution was sent to the states
By June 21, 1788, 9 States had Ratified the new Constitution.
A majority, but not New York and Virginia.
There was a fear of the document that was being produced at the convention
-strong state's rights advocates
enlisted poorer class of Americans into their anti-federalist ranks
Supporters of the Constitution tended to be
educated and wealthier and supported the government of the rich and well-born
George Washington and James Madison
urged a reluctant Thomas Jefferson into supporting the new document. He agreed and Virginia ratified the Constitution June
New York remained uncommitted to the new Constitution with organized
anti-federalist opposition led
by Governor George Clinton, and delegates Robert Yates, John Lansing
The Federalist - Essays written by Hamilton,
Madison, and Jay that were published by the New York Press urging the New York State Legislature to adopt the new Constitution.
New York ratified it July 26, 1788.
The Fear of anarchy(Shay's Rebellion)
was a 56th person at the convention.
The Framers all wanted a stronger practical government
-Federal Judges were appointed for life
power of the government rested with the President who was indirectly elected by the people (Electoral College)
were indirectly chosen by state legislatures
-House of Representatives
were directly elected by the people
Madison would author The Bill of Rights in order to insure that the new Federal Govt would protect the Individual Rights of
American Citizens, formally the responsibility of the States.
North Carolina and Rhode Island did not ratify the Constitution
until it was already in operation