Control of commerce touched off the chain reaction that led to a constitutional convention; Interstate squabbling over this issue had become so alarming by 1786 that Virginia taking the lead issued a call for a convention at Annapolis, Maryland; 9 states appointed delegates but only five were finally represented; with so laughable a showing nothing could be done about the ticklish question of commerce; a charismatic New Yorker, 31 yr old Alexander Hamilton brilliantly saved the convention from complete failure by engineering the adoption of his report; it called upon Congress to summon a convention to meet in Philadelphia the next yr not to deal w/ commerce alone but to bolster the entire fabric of the Articles of Confederation.......; Alexander Hamilton then only 32 was present as an advocate of a superpowerful central government; his 5 hr speech in behalf of his plan, though the most eloquent of the convention left only one delegate convinced himself; he at heart favored a much stronger central government than that under debate, but he contributed his sparkling personality and persuasive eloquence to whipping up support for federalism as framed, also joine John Jay and James Madison in penning a masterly series of articles for the NY newspapers, were propaganda
Checks and Balances
unlike the antifederalists who believed that the sovereignty of the people resided in a single branch of government, the legislature, the federalists contended that every branch executive, judiciary, and legislature effectively represented the people; by ingeniously embedding the doctrine of self-rule in a self-limiting system of checks and balances among these branches, the Constitution reconciled the potentially conflicting principles of liberty and order; it represented a marvelous achievement one that elevated the ideals of the Revolution even while setting boundaries to them;
yet if the architects of the Constitution were conservative it is worth emphasizing that they conserved the principle of republican government through a redefinition of popular sovereignty; unlike the antifederalists who believed that the sovereignty of the people resided in a single branch of government, the legislature, the federalists contended that every branch executive, judiciary, and legislature effectively represented the people; by ingeniously embedding the doctrine of self-rule in a self-limiting system of checks and balances among these branches, the Constitution reconciled the potentially conflicting principles of liberty and order
Shay's Rebellion started in western Mass. in 1786; backcountry farmers many of them Revolutionary War veterans were losing their farms through mortgage foreclosure and tax delinquencies; led by Captain Daniel Shays veteran of the revolutionary war; debtors wanted the state to issue paper money, lighten taxes, and suspend property takeovers; 100s of angry agitators getting their muskets wanted to enforce their demands; Mass. authorities responded w/ rapid action; the small army was paid by wealthy citizens; several skirmishes occurred; at Springfield 3 Shaysites were killed and 1 wounded; movement collapsed; Shays was sentenced to death but since he believed that he was fighting again against tyranny was later pardoned; Shay's followers crushed; the Mass. legislature passed on debtor-relief acts like Shays had wanted; the fear struck by the rebellion was feared that the revolution had created a monster of mobocracy; if republicanism was too shaky a ground upon which to construct a new nation, a stronger central government would provide the needed foundation; some citizens even talked about importing a European monarch to carry on what George III had failed
Land Ordinance of 1785
The Congress of Confederation succeeded in passing pieces of legislation, this was related to a recently acquired land from the states called the Old Northwest, it was northwest of the Ohio River, east the of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes; Land Ordinance of 1785, it provided that the acreage of the Old Northwest should be sold and that the proceeds should be used to help pay off the national debt; this area was to be surveyed before sale and settlement to stop confusion and lawsuits; it was to be divided into townships 6 miles square, & and then each again to be divided into 36 sections of 1 square mile each; each 16th section of each township was set aside to be sold for benefit of schools; the order in the Northwest Territory were the land was methodically surveyed and titles recorded was great compared to south of the Ohio River were uncertain ownership was the norm and fraud existed
at the time they decided to stamp out the Articles of Confederation and write the Constitution; Should the voteless slave of the southern states count as a person in apportioning direct taxes and in according representation in the House of Representatives? The south not wishing to be deprived of influence answered yes; the north replied no, arguing that, as slaves were not citizens, the North might as logically demand additional representation based on its horses; as a compromise between total representation and none at all it was decided that a slave might count as 3/5's of a person; hence the memorable if arbitrary "three-fifths compromise"
Consent of the Governed
A condition thought to be the legitimate government: that the authority of a government should depend on the consent of the people through votes in elections; , agreement by the people of a nation to subject themselves to the authority to a government. Natural rights philosophers, such as John Locke, believe that any legitimate government must draw its authority from the consent of the governed.
The continental congress in 1776 called upon the colonies to draft new constitutions; the continental congress was actually asking the colonies to summon themselves into being as new states; the sovereignty of these new states, according to the theory of republicanism, would rest on the authority of the people.....; the outbursts of Shays and other distressed debtors struck fear in the hearts of the proportioned class who began to suspect that the Revolution had created a monster of mobocracy; if republicanism were free from restraints, it seemed to many of the elite, had fed an insatiable appetite for liberty that was fast becoming license; if republicanism was too shaky a ground upon which to construct a new nation, a stronger central government would provide the needed foundation....; the delegates believed in republicanism but sought to protect the American experiment from its weaknesses abroad and excesses at home
Noteworthy was the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, was related to governing of the Old Northwest; dealt w/ how a nation should govern colonies; it was a judicious compromise: temporary tutelage or learning, then permanent equality; 1st there would be 2 evolutionary territorial stages were the area would be subordinate to the federal government then when it would've had 60,000 inhabitants it might be admitted by Congress as a state w/ all privileges of the 13 charter members; this is what the Continental Congress promised when they surrendered their lands in 1781; it also forbade slavery in the Old Northwest except slaves already present; Congress was great at solving this problem; if it had attempted to chain the new territories in permanent subordination there would've been a 2nd American Revolution fought by the West and the East; this worked so it was carried over to other frontier areas
The Constitution as drafted was a bundle of compromises; they stand out in every section; a key compromise was the method of electing the president indirectly by the Electoral College rather than by direct means; While the large states would have the advantage in the 1st round of popular voting, as a state's share of electors was based on the total of its senators and representatives in Congress, the small states would gain a larger voice if no candidate got a majority of electoral votes and the election was thrown to the House of Representatives, where each state had only 1 vote; although the framers of the constitution expected election by the House to occur frequently, it has happened just twice in 1800 and in 1824
The antifederalists who opposed the stronger federal government were arrayed against the federalists who obviously favored it; antifederalists voiced objections to the "gilded trap" known as the Constitution; they cried w/ much truth that it had been drawn up by the aristocratic elements and hence was antidemocratic; they likewise charged that the sovereignty of the states was being submerged and that the freedoms of the individual were jeopardized by the absence of a bill of rights; they criticized the dropping of annual elections for congressional representatives, the erecting of a federal stronghold 10 miles square (later DC) the creation of a standing army, the omission of any reference to God, and the highly questionable procedure of ratifying w/ only 2/3's of the states; a Philadelphia newspaper added that Franklin was a fool from age and that Washington was a fool from nature
After bitter and prolonged debate the Great Compromise of the convention was hammered out and agreed upon; a cooling of tempers came; the larger states were conceded representation by population in the House of Representatives and the smaller states were appeased by equal representation in the Senate; each state no matter how poor or small would have 2 senators; the big states obviously yielded more; to make them happy the delegates agreed that every tax bill or revenue measure must originate in the House where population counted more heavily; this critical compromise broke the logjam and from then on success seemed within reach
Article of Confederation
The main thing to know regarding the Articles is that they set up a very weak government. This was not by accident, but by plan. The reason
a weak government was desired was simply to avoid a strong national government that would take away unalienable rights or abuse their power
(i.e. England).; The Articles had no executive branch (hence, no single leader),; a weak Congress in which each state had only one vote, it required 2/3 majority on any subject of importance, and a fully unanimous vote for
amendments.; Also, Congress was pitifully weak, and could not regulate commerce and could not enforce tax collection.; States printed their own, worthless paper money.; States competed with one another for foreign trade. The federal government was helpless; . Congress could only call up soldiers from the states, which weren't going to help each other., Example: in 1783, a group of Pennsylvanian soldiers harassed the
government in Philadelphia, demanding back pay. When it pleaded for help from the state, and didn't receive any, it had to shamefully
move to Princeton College in New Jersey.;
However, the government was a model of what a loose confederation should be, and was a significant stepping-stone towards the
establishment of the U.S. Constitution.
Still, many thought the states wielded an alarmingly great of power
The antifederalists who opposed the stronger federal government were arrayed against the federalists who obviously favored it; silver buckled federalists had power and influence on their side; they enjoyed the support of such commanding figures as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin; most of them lived in the settled areas along the seaboard, not in the raw backcountry; overall, they were wealthier than the antifederalists, more educated, and better organized; they also controlled the press; more than a 100 newspapers were published in America in the 1780s, only a dozen supported the antifederatlist cause
belief that because the states created the United States, individual states have the power to nullify federal laws; , The anti-federalists opposed the constitution because they thought it did not give enough power to the states. They believed that each state deserved certain rights that were not clearly defined in the constitution but were pertinent in democracy. Since these rights were not included in the original draft of the constitution there was a delay in the ratification process until the states were granted individual powers in an added clause.
Shay's followers crushed; the Mass. legislature passed on debtor-relief acts like Shays had wanted; the fear struck by the rebellion was feared that the revolution had created a monster of mobocracy; if republicanism was too shaky a ground upon which to construct a new nation, a stronger central government would provide the needed foundation; some citizens even talked about importing a European monarch to carry on what George III had failed
The fourth President of the United States (1809-1817). A member of the Continental Congress (1780-1783) and the Constitutional Convention (1787), he strongly supported ratification of the Constitution and was a contributor to The Federalist Papers (1787-1788), which argued the effectiveness of the proposed constitution. His presidency was marked by the War of 1812.;, A co-author of the Federalist Papers, he was an influential delegate of the Constitutional Convention later to be called the Father of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. By writing the Bill of Rights, he secured the faith of those who were not sure about the Constitution.;
Alexander Hamilton at heart favored a much stronger central government than that under debate, but he continued his sparkling personality and persuasive eloquence to whipping up support for federalism as framed; He also joined John Jay and James Madison in penning a masterly series of articles for the NY newspapers; designed as propaganda, these essays remain the most penetrating commentary ever written on the Constitution and are still widely sold in book form as The Federalist; probably the most famous of these is Madison's Federalist No. 10 which brilliantly refuted the conventional wisdom of the day that it was impossible to extend a republican form of government over a large territory