History of the Confederation and Constitution

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 The American States needed to become independent from Great Britain so a procedure

was begun to start a organized government to design a complete body of rules and laws for the

individual states relationships to be regulated. Former President of Delaware and Pennsylvania

John Dickinson managed a panel on July 12, 1776 to present a draft of that document that was

actually ratified in 1781. That document became the first Constitution of the United States

which was named The Articles of Confederation. Congress had considerable powers under

The Articles of Confederation however due to the inadequacy of a capable government and

controversies amongst states it was replaced by the United States Constitution in 1788.

The Article of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution were both established after gaining

independence from Great Britain for providing the ground rules for the foundation of an

organized and undivided government, however there were so many differences between the two.

The central government under the Constitution was very powerful versus The Articles of

Confederation being limited through the fear of a harsh government. The Congress was not able

to excise taxes or to regulate commerce and to directly intervene to regulate disputes among

states. It only incorporated one chamber and had no legislative and judicial branches. Also there

were drawbacks to central government as individual states maintained much of their freedom and

independence. While the U.S. government uses taxes as a origin of proceeds it also has the

capability to rule economics and trade and able to negotiate to settle conflicts among states. It is

divided into executive, legislative and judiciary and has a greater effect over individual states.

Despite the various differences between the Article of Confederation and the Constitution

there are many similarities. Both were established to provide the structure for an undivided,

systemized government which granted them the power to sign treaties while dealing with foreign

policy transactions. With both the discrete offices in the government have time limits and each

specific state must honor the document and no state can enter into war by itself.

After the Articles of Confederation didn’t live up to its expectations the US Constitution was

drafted. The states were happy with the Articles putting them in command with the national

government however with the states having to come up with their own laws because there were

no enforcing authority it resulted in chaos. With the US constitution in place it was the push

 needed to bring the state of the affairs back on the track (Keene & O’Donnell, 2012 p. 121).

After Shays’ Rebellion which occurred in western Massachusetts as a protest against rising debt

and economic chaos there was an apparent economic and military weaknesses and Americans

began asking for changes to the Articles. The national government was unable to gather a

combined military force among the states to help put down the rebellion, making clear a serious

weakness in the structure of the Articles of Confederation (Kelly, 2018). The Article of

Confederation was the most disparate issue Congress had to encounter thereby serving to setback

Maryland’s ratification and not being put into effect for four years. A series of laws were passed

by the Articles Congress to regulate the area and prepare them for statehood after the transfer of

western lands by the states. The Ordinance of 1784 and 1785 and the Great Northwest Ordinance

in 1787 were included in these measures. The Article of Confederation most controversial issues

were related to the west land however, Article 9 also included the outcome of the controversy

relating to the requisitioning of troops dictating proportion to the total number of white

inhabitants of each state. In non-slave states this was unfair because while white males in slave

states went off to war, their slaves could continue to work on the plantations thereby the

productivity of their farms would suffer due to the loss of the chief laborer.

 George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were

four of the fifty-five delegates out of the twelve minus Rhode Island who met in Philadelphia on

May 1787. As George Washington being the leader these men, many were lawyers, had serve in

Congress and ages ranging in their thirties and forties. Instead of revising the Article of

Confederation which was their plan and they settled on developing a new structure of

government. James Madison submitted a proposal called the Virginia plan or large-state plan

that called for a bicameral legislature based on population representation from both houses

allowed to excise taxes and form laws. The division of delegation in Congress maintained to

break down the Constitutional Convention after the New Jersey Plan was denied. Balanced

representation meaning one state, one vote was expected by the smaller states and equal

representation (based on population) was requested by the larger states. The explanation to bring

about the number of seats in the House of Representatives equal to each state’s population and

each representative named exactly by the people came from the Great (Connecticut)

Compromise. Elected by the state legislature in the Senate each state would have two

individually voting senators. In 1783 the procedure passed down by the Confederation Congress

cleared up the matter of if or how to count slaves in each state’s population. Population was

decided by the “whole number of free persons” and “three fifths of all other persons (slaves).”

for determination of delegation in the House and determining straightforward taxes to the states.

The delegates granted the slave trade to remain as an attachment to the Three-fifths Compromise

by disallowing Congress the capability to forbid it before 1808 and recognize that fugitive slaves

should be brought back to their Masters. The delegates from the southern states considered that

each state should make that compromise, not the federal government on the argument of slavery

 in which the northern states had already conceded and banned slavery. The resolution was

formed that slaves would amount for only three-fifths of one person in which they would not

count for too much of the population and account for greater numbers of representatives from the

south (Ao, 2016). Roger Sherman (aka Architect of the Connecticut Compromise) who was a

Superior Court Judge was one of the men who help establish the Constitution in Philadelphia in

1787. Being the only person to sign all four documents of the American Revolution: the

Continental Association of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation

and the Constitution of the United States. He recommended a structure when the Constitutional

Convention became stagnant over the entity of legislative voting. His compromise was selected

on July of 1787 by a vote of five states to four and provided ways to save the decaying

convention and implemented an incentive as a resolution to other issues forthcoming. The

compromise furnish for representation in the House of Representatives according to population

and in the Senate by equivalent figures for each state. Benjamin Franklin suggested that the

Convention establish the habit of praying before each session as a way of getting around their

unlikeness when the debates became somewhat disagreeable over the states’ representation in

 Congress (Maggs, 2012).

The news stormed in pamphlets, newspapers and on the floors of state legislatures over

the debate of ratification the convention completed after months of work on September 1787

which took a minimum of nine states to ratify the Constitution. Published in paper across the

county were the series of essays that supported the strong government written by Alexander

Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in an effort to inform voters and motivate public

conversation. The articles were known as the federalist Papers, and those who preferred

ratification of the new constitution called themselves Federalists. Their opponents went by the

name of Antifederalists, believing that the new document gave too much power to the national

government and left the states too little. True proponents of individual liberty, they strongly

 attacked the omission of a bill of rights, already included in many state constitutions. The

failure of the Articles of Confederation made it clear that America needed a new form of

government. Yet there was worry that the Constitution gave too much power to the federal

government. The original draft of the Constitution did not have a Bill of Rights, declared all state

laws subservient to federal ones, and created a king-like office in the presidency. At the

Philadelphia Convention and in the Federalist Papers, James Madison argued against having a

Bill of Rights, fearing that they would limit the people’s rights (Eze, 2017). Strong proponents

of individual liberty, they vigorously criticized the omission of a bill of rights, which was

included in many state constitutions. Some considered the ratification process itself illegal,

because unanimous consent from the states was required to amend the Articles of

Confederation. The Federalists argued that the new government would not be dominated by any

one group and that there were adequate safeguards to protect individuals and the states.

Governor John Hancock on January 30th, who had been elected the convention’s president but for

somehow was too sick to attend the proceedings, rose from his sickbed and was carried into the

convention wrapped in flannel. Possibility the Federalists had convinced him of full-fledged

support for the governorship in the next election, and suggested that in case Virginia failed to

ratify, thus disqualifying Washington for the presidency, he was a likely choice for the office.

Hancock on January 31 abandoned his previous hesitancy and urged ratification with a

recommendation that the first Congress push for amendments (Wood, 2010).


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