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WE THE PEOPLE. The making of the Constitution. Why Write the Constitution?*. People favored a republic – citizens rule through elected representatives Articles of Confederation (1 st Attempt) Weak Central Government – No Power one branch each state = 1 vote no national currency

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we the people


The making of the Constitution

why write the constitution
Why Write the Constitution?*
  • People favored a republic – citizens rule through elected representatives
  • Articles of Confederation (1st Attempt)
    • Weak Central Government – No Power
      • one branch
      • each state = 1 vote
      • no national currency
    • Continental Congress had no power to
      • tax
      • settle disputes between the states
    • Domestic and Foreign Problems
      • Shays’s Rebellion
      • Lots of debt (can’t pay it back)
two options
Two Options
  • Amend (change) the Articles of Confederation
  • Write new articles
the constitutional convention
The Constitutional Convention
  • Meeting of delegates from all states (except Rhode Island) to create a new plan for the United States government
  • Began May 25, 1787 in Philadelphia, PA
  • 55 delegates attended, including James Madison & George Washington
  • Constitution was written to solve problems of a weak central government under the Articles of Confederation.
issues 1 w the constitution
Issues #1 w/ the Constitution
  • Representation
  • Large states -- all representation should be proportional -- based on the population of each state -- Therefore states with larger populations would have more representatives in Congress
  • Small states -- all representation should be equal -- each state has the same number of delegates
solution to issue 1
Solution to Issue #1
  • New Jersey Plan (small states)
    • Revise articles of Confederation - give Congress power to tax & regulate commerce
  • Virginia Plan (large states)
    • Create a new form of government with 3 branches & proportional representation
    • creates a system of checks and balances
  • Great (Connecticut) Compromise
    • Two houses of Legislature (Bicameral)
    • Senate: equal representation -- 2 votes for each state
    • House of Representatives: votes based on population
issues 2 w the constitution
Issues #2 w/ the Constitution
  • Slavery
    • How should slaves be counted? As property or as Population?
    • How should they be taxed?
solution to issue 2
Solution to Issue #2
  • Three-fifths Compromise
    • Each slave counts as 3/5 of a white man for purposes of taxation and representation
issues 3 w the constitution
Issues #3 w/ the Constitution
  • Who was more authority (power)?
    • the States -- or–
    • the National Government
solution to issue 3
Solution to Issue #3
  • Federalism (Division of Power)
    • Made federal law the supreme law of the land, but otherwise gave the states considerable leeway to govern themselves
    • Limited the powers of the federal government to those identified in the Constitution
issues 4 w the constitution
Issues #4 w/ the Constitution
  • Free Flow of Commerce among the States
    • Tariff Issue (Tax)
solution to issue 4
Solution to Issue #4
  • Commerce Clause
    • gave Congress the power to regulate trade between the states as well as with foreign nations.
important people
Important People
  • George Washington, Chairman of the Convention
    • Washington presided at the Convention and, although seldom participating in the debates, lent his enormous prestige to the proceedings.
  • James Madison, “Father of the Constitution”
    • Madison, a Virginian who kept copious notes—the best record historians have of what transpired
    • Authored the “Virginia Plan,” which became the foundation for the structure of the new government.
    • He later authored much of the Bill of Rights.
  • Before the Constitution can be put into practice, it must be ratified, or approved by the states.
    • Debate over Constitution -- (Federalists and Anti-federalists)
    • Each state sets up a convention to approve or reject the Constitution
    • Nine states must accept the Constitution for it to be ratified
federalists v anti federalists
Federalists -v- Anti-Federalists
  • Federalists (In favor of the Constitution)
    • Favor a strong national government that shares power with the states
    • Believed that separation of powers created checks and balances
    • Believed that the individual rights of citizens were implied in the Constitution and that there was no need for a Bill of Rights
  • Anti-Federalists (Against the Constitution)
    • Believed that a federal Government would favor the interests of the rich and powerful and ignore the rights of the poor
    • Believed that one central government would be too powerful and would threaten individual rights and liberties
    • And therefore believed that individual rights must be protected in a Bill of Rights
federalists v anti federalists1
Federalists -v- Anti-Federalists
  • Federalists write a series of papers called the “Federalist Papers”
    • actually written by: Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison
    • present arguments for the Constitution
  • Anti-Federalists also write papers, but are not as organized
    • Presented arguments against the Constitution
the constitution is born
The Constitution is Born
  • After promising a Bill of Rights will be added, states begin to ratify the Constitution. (Delaware is 1st)
  • In December 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments), written by James Madison are added to the Constitution
    • guaranteed the rights of individual citizens
    • these rights can not be taken away by the Federal government
    • without the Bill of Rights, the Constitution could not have been ratified
organizing the new gov t
Organizing the New Gov’t
  • Federal System of Gov’t (Federalism):
    • governmental power is divided between the central government and various state governments
  • US Government
    • Guiding Principles
      • Separation of Powers - separate branches with independent powers and responsibilities so one doesn’t become to powerful.
      • Checks and Balances – each branch can limit the powers of the others, to assure that one branch doesn’t becomes too powerful
branches of gov t
Branches of Gov’t
  • Legislative– Congress (makes the laws)
    • House of Representatives -- representation based on population
    • Senate -- equal representation (2 per state)
    • Delegated and Reserved powers
  • Executive – President (enforces the laws)
    • elected by Electoral College
    • powers: veto over laws and nomination of certain position
  • Judicial -- Supreme Court (interprets the laws)
the essential understanding
The Essential Understanding
  • The Constitution of the United States of America established a government that shared power between the national government and state governments, protected the rights of states, and provided a system for orderly change through amendments to the Constitution itself.