European nations wanted colonies in the New World to pursue an economic system called mercantilism. England benefitted from having colonies because the colonies supplied England with raw materials (lumber, furs, grain, tobacco). In return, colonists bought furniture, iron utensils, books, and china made in England. And to control trade, the English Parliament passed the Navigation Acts. Not only did this prevent colonies from sending goods to other nations, but also required that all colonial trade had to travel on English or colonial ships. But there were people who continued to smuggle. So the English king forced merchants of Massachusetts to obey the laws. But they refused, and the king appointed a new royal governor, Sir Edmund Andros who angered the colonists by imposing new taxes. The British planned to split New England from the rest of the colonies by seizing New York City. Washington prepared an army to stop them, but the British defeated them with ease. The British were successful in seizing NYC shortly after. In 1777, an army of British troops and Native Americans were defeated by a Patriot army at Bennington, Vermont, and won a clear victory at Saratoga, New York. This was crucial because it convinced the French that the colonists had a chance to win the war. Congress couldn't provide supplies because it had difficulty raising money for the war. So it borrowed money and printed more paper money. But printing money raised the prices for food and supplies began to rise. The first year after Saratoga, the British started to operate from the South. They captured Savannah, Georgia and Charles Town, South Carolina. In 1782, the Patriots and British began to discuss terms for peace. The American delegates (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay) insisted that the British recognised American independence. The American Revolution created a sense of egalitarianism (the equality of all people). Many urged that the nation ends slavery, but Southern states refused. Now having declared independence, the formation of a new government was a major problem. American leaders feared that a true democracy would give power to the uneducated. So they wanted a republic, where people rule through elected representatives. The state constitution created governments that guaranteed freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In creating a new government, the Congress decided that each state would have one vote. The Congress also created two levels of government: State and National. The national government had power to declare war, make peace, sign treaties, borrow money, create a postal service, and deal with Native Americans. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 determined how the territory was divided. The Articles of Confederation proved to have many weaknesses, however. First was the lack of unity (each state acted on their own interest). Second was that the vote of all states was required to change the Articles. Third, the states refused to let Congress impose taxes. This resulted in the accumulation of debt.
Debt --> Creditors wanted states to pass higher tax for repayment--> Farmers go in debt
In 1787, there was a revolt by farmers against taxes in Massachusetts. In May of 1787, delegates met in Philadelphia to fix problems of the national government. They came to a conclusion of abandoning the Articles of Confederation and created a new form of government. The two major problems were: the distribution of power between state and national governments, and how to prevent the wealthy from dominating the small farmers. The delegates came up with the Virginia Plan, which called for two houses of Congress in which the number of representatives depended on the population of the state. Then, there was the New Jersey Plan, which gave each state an equal vote in a single house of Congress. Later, the Great Compromise was proposed, which made two house of Congress. The representation of the lower house would depend on size and delegates were elected by popular vote. In the upper house, each state would have the same number of members. Then, the delegates debated how the slaves were going to be included in the population count. The Northern states where slaves were not as concentrated believed that slaves should not count towards the state population. But the Southern states favoured the idea of including the slaves as part of the population. The delegates agreed to count three-fifths of the slaves. Delegates divided the national government into three branches: legislative (power to make laws), executive (power to carry out the laws), and the judicial (power to conduct trials).