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Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

A plan for a loose union of the states under the authority of the Congress. Established a very weak central government.

Northwest Ordinance

Provided the basis for governing much of the western territory. The law created a new territory north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, which could eventually be divided into three to five states.

Shay's Rebellion

In Massachusetts in 1786. Started when the government of Massachusetts decided to raise taxes instead of issuing paper money to pay off its debts. The taxes fell most heavily on farmers. Those who could not pay lost there land. The farmers in western Massachusetts rebelled. Daniel Shay emerged as one of the rebellion's leaders.


People who supported a stronger central government.

James Madison

One of the most influential nationalists. A member of the Virginia Assembly and head of its commerce committee.

Alexander Hamilton

A New York delegate. Recommended that the Congress should call for another convention to be held in Philadelphia.

Constitution Convention

A meeting in Philadelphia that was attended by 55 delegates to balance the rights and aspirations of the states with the need for a stronger national government.

Virginia Plan

Proposed scrapping the Articles of Confederation entirely and creating a new national government with the power to make laws binding upon the states and to raise its own money through taxes.

New Jersey Plan

Modified the Articles of Confederation to make the central government stronger. Congress would have a single house in which each state was equally represented, but it would also have the power to raise taxes and regulate trade.

Connecticut Compromise

Proposed that in one house of Congress-the House of Representatives-the state would be represented according to the size of their populations. In the other house-the senate-each state would have equal representation.

Three-fifths compromise

A solution that stated that every five enslaved people in a state would count as three free persons for determining both representations and taxes.

Popular sovereignty

Rule by the people.


Divided government power between the federal, or national, government and the state governments.

Separation of powers

The division of power among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.

Legislative branch

The two houses of Congress, made the laws.

Executive branch

headed by the president, would implement and enforce the laws passed by congress.

Judicial branch

A system of federal courts, would interpret federal laws and render judgement in cases involving those laws.

Checks and balances

A system of government where each branch of government had the ability to limit the power of the other branches.


the rejection of congressional acts.


to formally accuse of misconduct, and then remove the president or any other high official in the executive or judicial branch.


Changes in the Constitution.


Supporters of the Constitution.


Opponents to the Constitution.

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