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Chapter 7 section 1-2 History
Terms in this set (21)
Constitution, ratify, bicameral, legislative
branch, executive branch, Electoral College
Northwest Ordinance, Articles of
Confederation, Virginia Plan, Three-Fifths
Compromise, Federalist/Anti-Federalist, Shay's
Rebellion, checks and balances, bill of rights
The war is over, now
America was now an
independent nation having won
the Revolutionary War, but now
what? What would the country
and the government look like?
The Articles of
The Articles of Confederation
was the name of the first
government of the United
It had been started back in
1776 in the Continental
Congress, and finally ratified
by all the states in 1781.
The Articles of Confederation was weak, on purpose.
Americans were afraid of a strong national government. After all, they had fought a war over it. So, the government they decided on was weak.
The national government under the Articles did not have the power to tax or enforce laws. Those powers were left up to the states.
The national government did have the power to wage war, but since they couldn't tax, there was no way to pay for it.
The government could also issue money, but the states didn't have to use it. They had their own. `
States quickly moved to adopt a state constitution.
The states adopted constitutions that limited the power of the governor. Pennsylvania even replaced the office of governor with an elected council of 12 members.
Most states established two-house, or bicameral, legislatures to divide the power.
In most states only white males who were at least 21 could vote. They had to own a certain amount of property or pay a certain amount of taxes. Some states allowed free African American males to vote.
Forming a Republic
Most Americans favored a weak central government.
The states would act as small, independent countries. They would act independently on most issues, working through the central government only to wage war and handle relations with other nations.
Planning a New Government
In 1776 the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee to draw up a plan for a new government.
A central government was needed to coordinate the war effort against Britain.
Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation in November 1777.
Articles of Confederation
If Congress needed to raise money or troops, it had to ask the state legislatures-but the states were not required to contribute.
The government lacked a chief executive. Much of the governments business went through congressional committees.
Each state had one vote in Congress, and all states had to approve the Articles as well as the amendments.
With Maryland's ratification, all 13 states had approved the Articles. On March 1, 1781, the Confederation became the United States.
The Confederation Government
The Articles did not provide a government strong enough to handle the problems facing the U.S.
Congress had little authority and could not pass a law unless all 13 states consented.
The Confederation did accomplish some important things. Americans won independence and expanded foreign trade. The Confederation also provided for settling and governing the western territories.
New Land Policies
At the beginning of the war only a few thousand settlers lived west of the Appalachian Mountains. By the1790's the number approached 120,000.
The Confederation contained no provision for adding new states.
During the 1780's all of the states except Georgia gave up their claims to lands west of the Appalachians and the central government took control of these lands.
Thomas Jefferson proposed a plan that divided the western territories into self-governing districts.
The Northwest Ordinance
One of the things the new government was allowed to do was divide any new lands the United States acquired. Most of the lands belonged to the Indians, but that didn't stop anyone from taking them.
Under the Northwest Ordinance, when 60,000 people lived in a territory, they could apply to become a state.
Slavery was also outlawed, but runaway slaves were to be returned to their lawful "owners."
Freedom of religion and trial by jury were guaranteed.
By 1781, money printed during the war had depreciated, fallen in value.
With Congress unable to collect taxes, both states and congress printed their own paper money. The value of the bills dropped as the price of goods soared. This led to some food riots.
Congress had borrowed money from the American citizens and foreign countries to pay for the war. They still had to pay soldiers for their service as well. Without having power to tax, the Confederation couldn't pay its debts. It requested funds from the states, but they only contributed a small portion.
In 1781, faced with a total collapse of the finances, Congress created a department of finance under Philadelphia merchant Robert Morris.
Morris proposed a 5% tax on imported goods to help pay national debt.
This required the Articles be changed to give Congress the power to levy taxes.
12 states approved, but Rhode Island's opposition killed the proposal.
A 2nd effort in 1783 also failed to get unanimous approval.
Problems with Britain
Despite the Treaty of Paris, British troops still occupied several forts in the Great Lakes region.
British trade policies caused problems too. American merchants claimed they were being kept from the West Indies and other profitable markets.
John Adams went to London to discuss these issues, but the British were not willing to talk.
The British claimed the Americans had agreed to pay Loyalist for property taken from them during the war, and failed to do this.
Congress had recommended the states pay, but the states refused.
Problems with Spain
Spain, which help Florida as well as land west of the Mississippi River, wanted to stop American expansion into the territory it claimed.
Spain closed the MS River port to American shipping in 1784.
In 1786, diplomats reached an agreement with Spain. Southern state reps blocked the agreement because it did not include the right to use the MS River.
The weakness of the Confederation and its inability to deal with problems worried many leaders. Many Americans began to agree the country needed a stronger government.
Weaknesses of the Articles
Since the national government could not tax, and the national money was worthless, debt became a huge problem.
Debt = owing money
The biggest problem was that the soldiers who had fought in the American Revolution had not been paid, and they were mad.
You are going to be looking at a picture in a few seconds? See if you can figure out what is going on in the picture. Look at the picture closely.
Describe the people, objects, where the event is happening, and what is happening. (Who, what, where, and objects) Write down your observations.
The American Revolution ended in 1783
The money paid to the soldiers who had fought in the Revolution was worthless.
This was because the government was not allowed to raise taxes in the Articles of Confederation.
As a result, the farmers were unable to pay their debts.The farmers were taken into court, then into jail, and their land was taken away from them.
Most of the farmers were soldiers who had fought in the Revolution and they were mad.
In 1786, an armed revolt by farmers against the state government of Massachusetts took place.
Led by Daniel Shays, the farmers began to forcibly prevent the courts from meeting so they couldn't take anyone else's land away or put them in jail.
Early in 1787, the Governor sent 4,400 men against the rebels and the rebels were defeated.
Shays and the other rebels were pardoned. (An official act of forgiveness)
Results of Shays' Rebellion
Shays' Rebellion showed the leaders of America that the Articles of Confederation were too weak, and a stronger national government was needed.
George Washington warned that all of what was fought for in the Revolution would be for nothing.
Federalists were very organized. They supported the new constitution, and wanted a strong central government.
George Washington, Ben Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay were all Federalists.
Wanted a Bill of Rights to be included, annual elections, and no standing army.
They did not want to ratify the Constitution.
They wrote Antifederalists papers, but were not as organized.
Patrick Henry was an antifederalist.
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