UNIT 4: From Confederation to Constitution

July 4, 1776 …
The United States declared independence from
Great Britain, so …
But …
Later, King George –
no more tyranny!
What form of
would the new
country have?
Confederation to Constitution
1) The “Framers” wanted to create a government that
 govern the country while protecting individual rights
 share power between the national and state
2) The weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led
to the birth of the Constitution
3) Regional differences between the states caused
conflicts for the national government
4) The Constitution illustrates the need for compromise
in government
The First U.S. Government
• 1776 - Continental Congress agreed that United
States would be a republic (what does that mean?)
but disagreed on other issues
• Wrote the Articles of Confederation to establish a
national government
• Created a weak government that left most powers
with the states – feared another tyranny
• Consisted of Confederation Congress – NO executive
or judicial branches!
• Each state had one vote – no difference for greater
Confederation (National)
Wage war – fought the
Make peace – signed the
Treaty of Paris in 1783 to
end Revolutionary War
Make treaties – made
treaties with France and
Spain during the war
Issue money – yes, but so
could the states … would
this create problems?
State Powers
Set taxes
Create courts
Enforce laws
Establish trade
Issue money (?!)
Ratifying the Articles
• 1777 – Articles of Confederation
passed by Continental Congress –
sent to states to ratify
• 5 small states objected to bigger
states controlling western lands
• 1781 – with control of western
lands given to Congress, all 13
states ratified the Articles
Articles more a loose treaty
between states than a true
constitution, but U.S. now had a
The Northwest Territory
• Made plans to sell and
settle western lands
• Northwest Territory – area
bordered by Great Lakes and
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
• Land Ordinance of 1785 –
divided territory into 36 sq.
mile townships
• Square #16 usually reserved
for public school
6 miles
The Northwest Ordinance - 1787
Three-step plan for adding new states in NW Territory
1. New territory with territorial governor and judges
2. 5,000 free white male landowners (RWDs) – elected
assembly to govern
3. 60,000 population – apply to become a state
Also established rights of
settlers and outlawed
IMPORTANCE: Established
orderly process for
admitting new states to
U.S. with same rights as
original 13 states
Next - Part 2: Problems with the Articles
Part 2: Problems with the Articles
To review …
1776 – 13 British colonies became the United States of
• First government called the Articles of Confederation
• Weak national government that left most powers to
individual states – feared tyranny
• Some successes:
Fought and won Revolutionary War
Made Treaty of Paris with Britain
Passed Land Ordinance of 1785 to sell Northwest
Passed Northwest Ordinance of 1787 – plan to add
new states to the Union
Weakness Leads to Problems
No revenue
No power to tax = no money to run government
Had to ask states for money, but …
They weren’t required to give anything
Without gold and silver, Confederation paper money
worthless, so states made their own!
North Carolina $5
and $10 bills
Trade issues
States taxed each other’s goods - no
national enforcement of trade laws
States fought with and sued each other
– no national courts to settle disputes
States had different trade policies –
discouraged foreign countries from
trade with U.S.
Made Congress look weak to foreign
• Passing new laws required minimum
2/3 vote – 9 of 13 states
• Amending Articles required
unanimous vote – in other words …
13-0 or NO GO!
Do you think it would have been difficult
to get laws passed like this? Why?
Answer in your notes
Crisis for Farmers
States deep in debt from war costs
State of MA raised taxes on farmers – more
than total income for most families
Risked loss of land or debtors prison if not paid
National government unable to help
and MA refused debt relief
Fall 1786: Anger and protests
among farmers grew until …
Shays’ Rebellion
• Daniel Shays, MA farmer and war veteran
Part 3: Constitutional Convention
• Congress agreed that Articles of Confederation needed
improvements to strengthen national government
• May 1787: Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia
in Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence
12 states sent delegates
(representatives) - Rhode
Island boycotted the
convention because it
feared small states would
lose power
America’s Best and Brightest
• Convention delegates a collection
America’s “All-Stars”
• Educated, most wealthy - had served in
Congress, state legislatures, or as
Known as the “Framers”
because Constitution is
the framework for all
government in U.S.
Convention Leaders
James Madison (VA) – “Father of the
Read and prepared for Convention
Kept detailed daily notes – main
source of Convention history
Creator of Virginia Plan
Author of Bill of Rights
George Washington (VA)
elected president of the
Convention – most respected
… and a Few Absences
• Thomas Jefferson – ambassador to
• John Adams – ambassador to Great
• Patrick Henry – said he “smelled a
rat” and refused to attend (what do
you think he meant by this?)
• Samuel Adams and John Hancock
also not present
Goals of the Convention
Improve upon the Articles of Confederation
Create a strong federal government while preserving
state powers and individual rights
Planned to revise the Articles, but ended up starting over
and writing Constitution
Compromise - an agreement or
settlement of a dispute that is
reached by each side making
aka “meeting in the middle”
Issue: Government
• Proposed by Edmund
• Three branch government
with strong executive
• Two-chambered
(bicameral) legislature
• Representation based on
• Favored big states
Proposed by William
Three branches with
weak executive branch
One legislative chamber
One vote per state
More like Articles of
Favored small states
The Great Compromise
Delegates approved Virginia Plan with a few compromises
CONGRESS (legislative branch)
• Representation by
• Each state 2 members
• Elected by legislatures to
• Elected by the people as
represent the states (17th
their voice in government
Amendment changed)
• 2-year terms
• 6-year terms
Issue: Representation and Taxes
Should slaves count as persons or property?
Slaves are property
• Slaves part of population
Taxes – YES
• Representation – YES
Representation – NO
• Taxes - NO
The Three-Fifths Compromise
Count 3/5 (60%) of slave
population for both
representation and taxes
Issue: Trade
• Ban importation of slaves
• Regulate commerce
• Tax exports (merchant
• No ban on slave
importation (SC and GA)
• No taxes on exports
(agricultural economy)
No ban on slave trade until 1808 (20 years)
Congress could regulate commerce, but …
No taxes on exports
Issue: The Executive Branch
• Non-royal head of state was a recent idea in
government – not much experience to go on
• One executive or a group of three? Would single
executive create a tyranny?
• Who selects the executive – the people, Congress,
or a special group?
• How long a term – limited or lifetime?
The Presidency
Single chief executive - the President
4-year term limit (2 term maximum in 22nd Amendment)
Electoral College – states select electors to vote for
2012 Presidential Election Results
Electors = number of
representatives in House + 2
Ex. Texas’ 36 representatives
+ 2 senators = 38 electoral
A Government Is Born – almost …
• September 1787: final draft of Constitution made and
approved by Convention delegates
• Sent out to the thirteen states for ratification, and here’s
where the fun began again …
Next – Part 4:
Federalists vs. AntiFederalists
Part 4: Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
• Signed by 39 delegates and approved by Congress, the
Constitution went to the states for ratification
• Debated in state legislatures and public forums
Constitution Debate in Virginia General Assembly
OK, maybe not, but they DID debate – fell into two main
Federalists: Supported a federal republic of states bound by a
strong national (federal) government
Anti-Federalists: Supported loose confederation – believed
states could better serve their own people than one national
The Federalist Papers
Series of 85 essays written in support of the Constitution
Main authors:
Newspapers and merchants
supported Federalists –
published essays, gaving their
side advantage with public
Anti-Federalists Fight Back
Some prominent writers and speakers were Anti-Federalists
Two main arguments:
MUST have Bill of Rights
Presidency will lead to tyranny
George Mason
Mercy Otis Warren
Patrick Henry
The Constitution Approved
June 1788: New Hampshire ninth state to ratify Constitution –
now official government of the United States …
4 to go, but still missing 2 important states –
Virginia and New York …
The Final Pieces
Madison promised to add Bill of Rights as amendments
Virginia –
June 1788
New York –
July 1788
Carolina –
Island –
1791 – Bill of Rights first 10 amendments to Constitution

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