2 The Articles of Confederation After declaring independence from Britain in 1776, Congress tried to unite the states under one national government. However, many feared a strong central government would trample the rights that they were fighting to preserve. Their solution was the Articles of Confederation, America s first Constitution
3 The Articles of Confederation The Articles created a firm league of friendship in which each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence. The Articles formed a loose union in which the 13 states cooperated for common purposes. It was run by Congress, in which each state had one vote.
4 The Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation gave Congress the power to make war and peace, raise an army and a navy, print money, and set up a postal system. However, in reality, these powers were limited by the inability of Congress to impose taxes. Instead, Congress had to ask the states for money in order to do anything and the states often ignored Congress s requests.
5 Developing Western Lands After gaining independence, America was left with western lands acquired from Britain in the Treaty of Paris. But there was no orderly way of dividing up and selling these lands. Settlers would just walk into the wilderness and claim the land they liked. Disputes over who owned what land clogged the courts.
6 Land Ordinance of 1785 The Land Ordinance of 1785 ended this confusion. It set up a system for dividing and settling western lands, allowing for the establishment of towns. It allowed for the transfer of federally owned lands into private holdings, townships, and states.
7 Northwest Ordinance of 1787 It divided the Northwest Territory into smaller territories. As soon as a territory had 60,000 people, it could apply to Congress to become a state. It gave settlers the same privileges as other citizens. It banned slavery in the Northwest Territory.
8 Money Shortage Under the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. had serious money problems. Congress lacked the gold or silver it needed to mint into coins. The states reacted by printing their own money. No one knew what all this new money was truly worth, but most thought that it wasn t worth much.
9 Shays s Rebellion The money shortage was particularly hard on farmers- couldn t pay their debts and taxes. In Massachusetts, judges ordered them to sell farms and livestock. Angry farmers led by Daniel Shays rebelled.
10 Shays s Rebellion They closed down courthouses to keep judges from taking their farms. Then they marched on the national arsenal at Springfield and seized weapons stored there. Since the Continental Army had been disbanded after the end of the Revolutionary War, Congress was unable to stop them. Ultimately, Massachusetts sent in its own militia troops to end Shays s Rebellion.
11 A Call for a Convention Shays s Rebellion was viewed as a sign that the nation was falling apart. Congress called for a convention to consider the situation of the United States. Each state was invited to send delegates to Philadelphia in May 1787, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.
12 Creating the Constitution Fifty-five delegates from 12 states attended (Rhode Island boycotted). They met in the same place that the Declaration of Independence was signed. Independence Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The delegates were the well-bred, the well-fed, the well-read, and the well-wed. In other words, they were among the best men in the country. Thomas Jefferson (who was in Great Britain at the time) called them an assembly of demigods.
13 The first action of the Constitutional Convention delegates was to elect George Washington president of the convention. He would play a key role by presiding over the convention and lending it his prestige.
14 At 81, Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate. He arrived at the convention each day in a sedan chair carried by four prisoners from a nearby jail.
15 James Madison Father of the Constitution He was the main author of the Constitution, having prepared himself for the issues discussed long before the convention occurred. He addressed the convention more than 200 times. He took notes on everything said (over 600 printed pages) so that we know what went on inside the convention day by day. He would later be our nation s fourth president.
16 Shared Beliefs The Constitutional delegates agreed that... The basic purpose of government was to protect the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All powers of government came from the consent of the governed. Liberty and equality were based on the laws of nature. The best way to protect these rights was through a republic, a country governed by elected representatives.
17 Differing Beliefs They disagreed about which people were entitled to vote and to hold office. They were divided over which should have more power, the national government or the individual states.
18 Clashing Views on Three Issues 1. How should states be represented in the new government? 2. How should slaves be counted? 3. How should the chief executive be elected?
19 Issue 1: How should states be represented? The Debate Large states = representation based on populations (the number of people). Small states = same number of representatives
20 The Virginia Plan A strong national government with three branches: A legislative branch (Congress) to make laws An executive branch (chief executive) to carry out the laws A judicial branch (system of courts) to apply and interpret the laws The legislative branch: two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The number of reps depended on its population. larger states favored Virginia Plan
21 The New Jersey Plan A government with three branches (legislative, executive, and judicial). Legislative branch (Congress) would have just one house, not two. Each state would have an equal vote Smaller states favored New Jersey Plan
22 The Main Differences Between the Two Plans The Virginia Plan - two houses of Congress; representation in each house determined by population. The New Jersey Plan - single house of Congress; each state having one vote.
23 The Great Compromise The delegates agreed to a two-house Congress. One house, the House of Representatives, would represent the people and would have the number of representatives from each state based on the state population. The other house, the Senate, would represent the states with each state having two senators that were elected by their state legislatures (not by the voters).
24 Issue 2: How should slaves be counted? Having agreed to base representation in the House of Representatives on state population, the delegates now had to decide how slaves should be counted. 9 out of 10 slaves at this time lived in the South Thus, southern states wanted slaves to be counted the same as any other person. However, the north argued that slaves should be counted as property that could be taxed like any other property and not counted in determining a state s population.
25 The Three-Fifths Compromise The delegates finally agreed to count each slave as three fifths of a person when determining a states population. The compromise was a contradiction to the statement in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal.
26 The Slave Trade The three-fifths compromise brought up the additional issue of the slave trade. South Carolina and Georgia s economy was based on slave labor, so each believed they needed fresh slaves to survive. The delegates eventually agreed that Congress would have the power to control trade, but with two limitations: 1. Congress could not place any tax on exports going to other countries. 2. Congress could not interfere with the slave trade for 20 years (or until 1808).
27 Issue 3: How should the chief executive (president) be elected? Some delegates wanted a single chief executive (the person in charge of the government) Other delegates feared that a single chief executive might turn out to be like King George III, the leader they had revolted against. These delegates wanted a three-member executive (three people in charge). Eventually, the delegates agreed to a single executive (the president).
28 Choosing the Chief Executive Some delegates wanted Congress to appoint the president, but others argued against this, stating that the president must not be made a flunky of the Congress. Several delegates thought that the people should elect the president, but Madison argued that voters would naturally vote for someone from their own states (which would be unfair to the candidates from the smaller states). A third group of delegates argued that the president should be elected by a specially chosen group of electors from each state. They believed that most Americans at the time would not know enough about the candidates to be able to make an informed decision as to who would serve them best.
29 The Electoral College After about sixty votes on the issue, the delegates reached a compromise. They decided that the president and vice president would be chosen by a special body known as the Electoral College. The Electoral College would consist of one elector for every member of Congress. Before 1820, state legislatures chose electors in most states. Today, the people choose their state s electors when they vote in presidential elections.
30 Signing the Constitution On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was finally finished and put up to a vote. Benjamin Franklin stated, I confess that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution... It therefore astonishes me to find this system approaching so near to perfect... and I think it will astonish our enemies. He added that he approved the final plan because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best. He then urged every member of the convention to put his name to this instrument.
31 Some Delegates Refuse to Sign Some delegates feared that it gave the national government too much power and did not protect the rights of the people, so they refused to sign the final draft of the Constitution.
32 The Constitution Is Put Before the Nation Nine of the thirteen state legislatures had to ratify (approve) the Constitution before it could become law and replace the Articles of Confederation as our nation s written plan of government. To help build support for ratification, many Federalists (supporters of the Constitution) published persuasive writing. The Federalist Papers were articles written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay urging ratification of the Constitution.
33 The Story of the Rising/ Setting Sun Chair Benjamin Franklin was waiting to sign the document that would hold the fate and destiny of our nation. As he stood, his eyes fell upon a carving on the back of George Washington's chair, a carving of half a sun. He stared thoughtfully at it for a minute, then proclaimed words that would be remembered forever, "I have often looked at that picture behind the president without being able to tell whether it was a rising or setting sun. Now at length I have the happiness to know that it is indeed a rising, not a setting sun." By this, he meant that we had risked everything, and indeed did win. The sun will continue to shine over America. If we had lost, the painting would have been declared a setting sun, bringing darkness upon our nation.
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