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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.