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Creating Republican Institutions. 1776-1787. “Which of us shall be the rulers?”. Would power reside in the national government or states? Who would control the new republican institutions: traditional elites or average citizens? Would women have greater political and legal rights?

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Which of us shall be the rulers
“Which of us shall be the rulers?”

  • Would power reside in the national government or states?

  • Who would control the new republican institutions: traditional elites or average citizens?

  • Would women have greater political and legal rights?

  • What would be the status of slaves in the new republic

Creating republican institutions

  • Govt. gets its authority from the citizens.

  • A selfless, educated citizenry.

  • Elections should be frequent.

  • Govt. should guarantee individual rights & freedoms.

  • Govt.’s power should be limited [checks & balances].

  • The need for a written Constitution.

  • “E Pluribus Unum.” [“Out of many, one”]

  • An important role for women  raise good, virtuous citizens.[“Republican Womanhood”].

Classical view of a model republic



“City on a hill”

Ideal citizen

A republican ideology
A republican ideology

  • Tenants/small farmers and workers/artisans

  • Merchants and planters

The state constitutions how much democracy
The State Constitutions: How Much Democracy?

  • May 1776: Congress instructs states to establish republican govts

  • w/i 6 mos. VA, MD, NC, NJ, DE, PA, CT, RI had constitutions

Lockean ideas colonial experience
Lockean ideas & colonial Experience

  • Social Compacts

  • From the Massachusetts constitution:

    • “The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: it is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.”

Common characteristics
Common Characteristics

  • All provided for separation of powers

    • Assembly (2-house)

    • Courts

    • Governor

Common characteristics1
common characteristics

  • Property requirements maintained for voting

    • 66%

  • Office-holding limited to men with more property

  • limited govt b/c all men tyrants at heart

  • assembly had the most power

  • States drew up Bills of Rights

    • religion, press, speech, jury trial

Constitutional comparisons
Constitutional Comparisons

  • Pennsylvania (1776)

    • w/ support from Scots-Irish famrers, Philly artisans, intellectuals

    • No governor

    • all taxpaying men could vote

    • unicameral legislature

Constitutional comparisons1
Constitutional comparisons

  • Massachusetts (1780)

    • Conservative Patriots (John Adams) alarmed by PA

    • office-holding to “men of learning, leisure and easy circumstances”

    • “if you give them the command or preponderance in the...legislature, they will vote all property out of the hands of you aristocrats.”

Constitutional comparisons2
Constitutional comparisons

  • Massachusetts

    • 3 branches of govt

    • 2 house legislature with upper house substantial property owners

    • Governor w/ veto power and power to appoint judges

Constitutional comparisons3
Constitutional comparisons

  • New York (1777)

    • property qualifications excluded 20% of white men from assembly elections; 60% from voting for governor and upper house

  • South Carolina (1778)

    • property qualifications ruled out 90% of white men from office-holding

    • Governor: $700,000 worth of property

    • Senators: $140,000; Assemblymen: $70,000

Who had the power
Who had the power?

  • if govt bodies wrote the documents, they could change them as well.

  • What would protect liberty against the abuse of governmental power?

  • Massachusetts Constitution

    • “We the people of Massachusetts...agree upon, ordain, and establish”

      • 1779: citizens elected a special convention for preparing constitution. People would vote to ratify

A national government
a national government

  • Experience w/ GB

  • State sovereignty

  • Repblics ill-adapted to a large geographic area

  • Confederation of small repbulics

Articles of confederation 1781 88
Articles of Confederation (1781-88)

  • John Dickenson

  • Central govt: Congress. Each state had one vote

    • 9 votes needed to pass important laws

    • To amend Articles: need all 13

    • “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.”

Powers of congress
powers of congress

  • decide on war/peace

  • appoint military officers

  • requisition (beg) the states for men/money

  • send ambassadors

  • make treaties

  • coin money

  • post office

  • borrow money

  • Indian affairs

  • Inter-state disputes

Powers not given to congress
Powers not given to congress

  • Regulate commerce

  • Collect taxes

  • Enforce own laws

  • Terms limited to 1 year

  • Tariffs required unanimous approval

Western lands prevent ratification
Western Lands prevent ratification

  • Landless States desired Congress to control unoccupied lands (MD, DE, NJ, RI, PA)

  • Landed states had some claims extending to Pacific (VA, MA, CT, GA, NC, SC)

  • MD refused to ratify until Western lands given to Congress

    • Land Speculation

    • Fear of spiral of taxation

Western lands prevent ratification1
Western Lands prevent ratification

  • Thomas Jefferson to rescue

    • VA to cede all lands on 2 conditions

      • All prior speculative claims cancelled

      • Region to be divided into states to be admitted on an equal basis w/ original 13 states

  • Articles ratified in March 1781

Accomplishments under the articles
Accomplishments under the Articles

  • Winning the war

  • Land Ordinance of 1785

    • States admitted on equal basis

    • Self-govt

    • survey of townships of 6 square miles; 1 section for a public school

    • $1 in gold/per acre

    • Speculation


  • Northwest Ordinance of 1787

    • Congress to govern territory instead of self-govt (takes away power from small farmers)

    • Governor < 5,000 people

    • Assembly, non-voting member of Congress > 5,000 people

    • State constitution, admission to Union > 60,000

    • Slavery prohibited

    • freedom of religion

Major problems under the articles
Major problems under the articles


  • Great Britain

    • Never evacuated 7 military posts in NW Territory

    • Stirring up Indian tribes

Problems under the articles
problems under the articles

  • Spain

    • Didn’t recognize or territory south of Ohio River and west of Appalachians

    • Cut off US navigation rights to play on secessionist sentiment

    • Mississippi River is essential to economic lifeblood of Ohio Valley

      • Jay-Gardoqui Treaty

        • East vs. West tensions

Problems under the articles1
Problems under the Articles


    • Britain cuts off trade

    • Floods US market with cheap manufactured goods

    • pent-up post-war demands

    • A tariff never passes (11-2 and 12-1 votes)

Problems under the articles2
Problems under the Articles

  • Post-war depression in 1780s

  • Failure to pay war debts

  • Worthless paper money in circulation

  • Soldiers, citizens yet to be paid

Newburgh conspiracy 1783
Newburgh Conspiracy (1783)

  • Spurred on by nationalists who wanted amendment to Articles

  • Continental Army

  • officers concerned about payments, pension

  • Washington shut it down

Problems under the articles3
Problems under the Articles

  • Shays’s Rebellion (Summer 1786)

    • Mass. levied heavy taxes; foreclosed small farms

    • Daniel Shays: veteran of Army, closed county courthouse

      • paper money

      • moratorium on debts

      • removal of state capital to interior

      • no imprisonment if in debt

Creating republican institutions

Social reform
Social reform


    • During the war, some followed their men into the camps (nurse, cooks, very few were soldiers)

    • Maintained colonial economy while men away

    • Some improvement in divorce laws

Republican motherhood 1760 1800
Republican motherhood (1760-1800)

  • Beginnings of education for women

    • A republic required an educated citizenry

    • Women expected to help promote these values since they held chief child-rearing responsibility

    • Mothers raise children to value patriotism and self-sacrifice

    • Women must be educated to rear patriotic sons

Abigail adams
Abigail Adams

  • “...and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”


  • After 1780, Northern states did away w/ slavery gradually

    • Post-nati laws

    • All states prohibited importation of slaves

    • Except for SC and GA, restrictions on manumission were lifted

    • Emancipation only where slavery not economically important

Separation of church and state
separation of church and state

  • Anglican Church disestablished in South

  • NH, CT, MA: Congregational Church still received tax $$

  • Discontinued early in 1800s

A social revolution
A Social Revolution?

  • No new social class came to power

  • No major shift in leadership as result of Revolution

    • 75% of state officials during the war held office prior to 1774

    • Tory lands were confiscated; sold for revenue

      • mostly sold to speculators NOT landless farmers

    • Russian and Cuban Revolutions