As a new nation, America needed a national government if they wanted to stay united. In result, on March 2, 1781, a plan by Ben Franklin called the Articles of Confederation was ratified to act as framework for America’s central government. The Articles of Confederation was purposely created to have a weak central government, in fear of a tyrannical government like Britain’s. The idea behind the Articles were to place a limit on how much power each state had while maintaining its “Sovereignty, freedom, and independence and every power, jurisdiction, and right.
Although, many of the ideas behind the Articles of Confederation were well thought out, in reality, it revealed many of its weaknesses as the framework of America. The Articles were significant because it was a trial and error learning experience for America and teaching the new nation how to better itself. Weaknesses Soon after the Articles went into effect, it showed how ineffective of a government it was. The Articles made the central government virtually powerless. Some notable weaknesses were the inability to tax, enforce treaties, trade, make amendments, and its voting system.
The inability to tax put America into debt and caused a recession. In addition, there as no national currency, which made all state currencies useless in trade. Moreover, the government couldn’t force states to abide to the treaties made with other foreign countries, which angered some of the countries. Then, when concerning new amendments, it was nearly impossible to pass any because the Articles required a unanimous decision from all states and compromises could only please so many states. Lastly, the voting system was flawed as it didn’t represent the population of America, equally.
Small states like Rhode Island had the same say as large population states such as New York. Strengths When the Articles of Confederation were employed, it did have some strengths that were beneficial to the government and its people. It told a story of what America is all about, and gave it control of certain situations that individual states couldn’t handle alone. The Articles of Confederation had the people’s best interest at heart. It reflected the values that Americans wanted to uphold and learn from Britain’s mistakes.
In addition, it was America’s national government and was better present, than no government at all. The Articles also gave the government the power to make decisions regarding how to act ith foreign nations and settle conflicts among states. The Articles of Confederation also created different departments, such as the Department of Treasury, which allowed the government to coin money. However, when compared to its weaknesses, the weaknesses outweighed the strengths easily, which was significant because it affected and frustrated the American people.
Shays’ rebellion Shays’ Rebellion, in 1786-1787, was caused by the accumulation of the Articles’ weaknesses. Farmers, all across the states, were victims to high taxes and the repression caused by the Articles of Confederation. In response, the farmers resorted to violence. Daniel Shay led the revolt and attempted to capture an arsenal located in Springfield. However, they were defeated and were forced to retreat to Vermont and then Rhode Island. Although, the rebellion was not a huge threat, it did leave its mark. The significance behind this event was that it signaled the ineffectiveness of the Articles.
It led America to see that America was in need of change in their framework. It revealed to the delegates from all over the states that a strong, central government was a necessity, in order for America’s stability. In esult, attend the Constitutional Convention looking for change. legates from all states except for Rhode Island would Key delegates to constitutional convention and contributions In 1787, a total of 55 delegates attended the the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Some key delegates were, George Washington, James Madison, Ben Franklin, and Roger Sherman.
Their goal was to reshape the Articles but soon decided to discard it the Articles and start fresh. George Washington contributed by being the president of the convention and overseeing that the debates that took place didn’t get out of hand. In addition, his presence at the meeting gave the convention credibility to the people of America to trust the Constitutional Convention. James Madison proposed the Virginia Plan, which called for the separation of government into the three branches of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman were important because they were apart of a special committee which suggest the bicameral legislature. They proposed that Congress should become bicameral with the House of Representatives and the Senate. It would later be known as the “Great Compromise. ” Purpose of the Constitution The Constitution was ratified in 1788. The main purpose of the Constitution was to replace the Articles of Confederation as framework for America’s national government. Therefore, that meant that it called for a stronger central government.
The Constitution separated the powers of government that would function by keeping each other in check and making sure that no one branch gets too powerful. This was significant because allowed a strong central government without the fear of one branch growing too powerful and becoming a tyrant. In addition, the Constitution included the Bill of Rights, which were omposed of 10 amendments. The Bill included such rights as the freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, freedom of religion, and etc. This is significant because it allows people their rights without relinquishing central government power.
Key Issues and Compromises regarding the Constitution In 1787, some key issues that popped up during the Constitutional Convention was whether to divide votes up by states or populations and whether slaves should be counted as votes, regarding representation and taxation. These two issues were addressed by the Great Compromise and Three-Fifths Compromise, respectively. The significance of the Great Compromise was that it achieved the closest possible option to equality. By creating a bicameral legislature, Congress would able to take into account how the vast majority of the population felt, and how each individual state felt about a law.
The Three-Fifths Compromise is significant because it sort of acknowledged African Americans as people, not property. Although, they weren’t worth as much as a white male, the Three-Fifth Compromise made 5 slaves equal to 3 men, which was better than being solely known as property. Organization and Structure of the new Gov. nder the Constitution The Virginia Plan allowed the Constitution three branches, which were the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch. Then because of the Great have Compromise, Congress is composed of two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The structure is significant because it creates a sturdy central government, while eliminating the fear of tyranny. Through the use of balances and checks, each branch has powers over the other branch. For example, the president can veto proposed laws by the other two branches, or the Chief Justice judges for life to ensure nbiased decisions. It is reassuring that each branch is forced to stay within their own power and can be shut down before achieving too much influence. The separation of Congress is also significant because everyone is represented in which laws are passed.
The House captures the decisions of the population, while the Senate had an equal amount of votes per state.. The Debates about ratifying the Constitution and how the Constitution was actually ratified In September 1787, the debates about ratifying the Constitution started. To proceed with the ratification, 9 of 13 states needed to approve of it. In an act of compromise, a Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution. But when they had 9 states, the Federalists still didn’t proceed.
They waited for Virginia and New York because 30% of America’s population (The American Vision: Modern Times) were found in those states. After that, they proceeded without Rhode Island. The way Americans debated over ratifying the Constitution is significant because it reflects what America stands for. By using words, any one side is capable of change. The Federalists honed in on the art of persuasion and compromise were able to please the majority of the states. However, it is also significant because it shows that a democracy can’t always please everyone.
This contrasts from the Articles of Confederation because unlike the Articles, the Constitution wasn’t made to please everyone but instead, the majority of the people. The better form of government for the U. S is the Constitution. There are reasons why the Constitution is still around today and a reason being that it gave the government power to tax the people. Although, most taxpayers detest taxes, taxes come back in the form of things such as free education and protection.
The Constitution is also a better form of government for the U. S is because it offers a bicameral legislature. Congress can now represent the needs of the states, as well as the people. Moreover, in the Constitution, trade is regulated and we now have a national currency. This change from the Articles to the Constitution has led America’s economy to bloom. The Constitution also offers a federalist system which divides the national power into 3 branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. Lastly, it makes the process of passing amendments possible. Instead of having a unanimous vote, only 75% of the states have to support it.