The United States Constitution By Mr. Westerfeld
Objectives-Stuff You Need to Know • Students will be able to identify these terms: Alexander Hamilton, The Virginia Plan, The New Jersey Plan, Great Compromise, Three-Fifths Compromise, Popular Sovereignty, Federalism, Separation of Powers, Legislative, Executive, Judicial, Checks and Balances, Amendments • Students will be able to explain the motives of the founders in creating 3 Branches of Government with Checks and Balances. • Students will be able to summarize the differences in the Virginia and New Jersey Plans.
The Constitutional Convention • After the many Nationalists, people who supported a stronger central government, pointed out some of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation the Confederation Congress called for a convention of all the states “for the sole purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.” • Every state but Rhode Island sent delegates to what became known as the Constitutional Convention, May 1787 in Philadelphia, PA.
The Founders (the authors of the Constitution) • 55 Delegates • Most were lawyers, 7 had been governors, 39 were members of the Confederation Congress • George Washington was presiding officer, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton • Thomas Jefferson was absent because he was serving as minister to France at the time.
The Virginia Plan • Detailed plan brought by the VA delegation, mostly the work of James Madison. • Called for the scrapping of the Articles and creating 3 separate branches of government. • Legislative, Executive, Judiciary • Legislature had two houses, with both houses depending on the population of states. • Therefore, benefitting states with large populations like VA, NY, and MA.
The New Jersey Plan • William Paterson a delegate from New Jersey offered a counterproposal. • Didn’t scrap the Articles completely. • Allowed a single house • States would be equally represented • The house could raise taxes and regulate trade
The Delegates Disagree • The delegates agree to proceed with the VA Plan. • The smaller states’ delegates want the legislature to have all states equally represented. • Large states want the legislature to be based on population. • Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed a compromise which became known as the Connecticut Compromise or the Great Compromise.
The Great Compromise • One house of Congress based on population, the House of Representatives. The representatives would be elected by eligible voters. • One house of Congress where the states are equally represented. The Senate, would be made up of 2 Senators from each state. Named after the Roman Senate. Senators would be chosen by state legislatures not voters.
The 3/5 Compromise • Southern delegates wanted slaves to count towards their population in the House of Representatives. • Northerners objected since slaves were not eligible to vote and that if they were counted as population that they should be counted for taxes as well. • A compromise was settled upon, every 5 slaves would count as 3 free persons for purposes of representation and taxes.
So, how did the delegates limit this national government? • Federalism-power was shared between the national, or federal government, and the state governments. • Separation of Powers- separating powers of the government amongst the three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. • Checks and Balances-Withinthis system, each branch of government had the ability to limit the power of the other two branches. • Amendments-changes to the constitution can be made anytime but must go through adoption process.
The Great Debate-Ratification • In order to become law the Constitution had to be ratified, or passed, by nine of the 13 states. • The people voted for representatives to vote for or against the Constitution at a state convention. • The two sides of the debate were given names: Federalists and Antifederalists.
Federalists • Wanted to adopt the Constitution. • The name was chosen because they wanted to emphasize that the power would be shared between the states and the national government. • Supports were largely merchants and artisans living in the large cities on the coast. Also, coastal farmers were supportive. • The inability of the government to regulate trade hurt these people the most.
Anti-federalists • Wanted the state governments to be more important than the national government. • Wanted a Bill of Rights that guaranteed the rights of citizens in this new government. • Many were western farmers living far from the coast who were suspicious of the wealthy and powerful.
Why The Federalists Prevailed? • The Federalists offered a program that they believed solved problems that most people, including Anti-federalists, acknowledged. • The Federalists had an aggressive propaganda campaign present in the large coastal cities of the day. • The Federalist Papers were 85 essays supporting the Constitution and rebutting criticisms of it.