the critical period 1781 1789 n.
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THE “CRITICAL PERIOD” 1781-1789. Powers of central government limited under Articles of Confederation Individual states retained majority of governmental power Numerous restraints built into articles to make any changes in it nearly impossible Congressmen had to be elected every year

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the critical period 1781 1789
  • Powers of central government limited under Articles of Confederation
    • Individual states retained majority of governmental power
  • Numerous restraints built into articles to make any changes in it nearly impossible
    • Congressmen had to be elected every year
      • Had to vote way state legislatures told them to
    • No chief executive provided for
    • Each state only given one vote in Congress and 9 had to agree before a bill would pass
      • Meant that five smallest states could block any measure they didn’t like
      • Attendance was so lax that 9 states were often not present so nothing got passed
settlement of the west
  • Congress passed several laws that provided for efficient and regular settlement of the West
    • But British refused to cooperate
      • Treated U.S. ambassadors like dirt
      • Refused to appoint ambassador to the U.S.
      • Refused to evacuate forts in the West
        • Direct violation of the Treaty of Paris
  • British justified violation of Peace of Paris by stating that Americans also violated it
    • By refusing to pay Loyalists for property they lost during the Revolution
  • Congress lacked power to raise an army to force British out of forts and could not levy taxes to pay off Loyalists
    • West therefore remained closed to American settlement
economic problems
  • British now put heavy duties on American imports to England
    • Congress did not have power to regulate trade so could not retaliate by doing same thing to British products coming into America
    • New markets not large enough to fill gap caused by loss of British market
  • Foreign merchants had governments that supported and protected them
    • American merchants were on their own and suffered as a result
    • Foreign trade fell off dramatically and standard of living may have dropped by as much as 20%
social problems
  • Post-Revolution hit small farmers hard
    • Difficult to pay mortgages and local taxes
  • Some states responded by lowering taxes and postponing mortgage debts
  • Other states would not provide farmers any relief
    • Arguing that it would bankrupt state government
shay s rebellion
  • Massachusetts refused to lower taxes on farmers and actually raised them instead
    • Announced that any farmer who did not pay taxes would have property foreclosed
  • Daniel Shays took matters into his own hands (1786)
    • Marched on local courthouses to prevent foreclosures
    • Easily defeated by state militia
  • Many believed Shay’s example would spread to other states
    • Provoking major uprising that would destroy everything the Revolution had accomplished
    • Congress helpless because it didn’t have power to monitor and correct unfair statepolicies
  • The government set up by the Articles of Confederation proved to be ineffective in dealing with our most serious problems
    • It couldn’t open the West to free settlement
    • It couldn’t get the British to live up to their treaty obligations
    • It couldn’t protect the interests of American merchants
    • It couldn’t prevent the outbreak and spread of social unrest within the states
  • It was becoming increasingly clear that the Articles had to be at least dramatically revised if the United States was to survive
hamilton and madison
  • Alexander Hamilton
    • Illegitimate son of Scottish merchant
    • Wealthy and powerful New York lawyer
    • Political genius who recognized that Articles were severely flawed and needed to be completely overhauled
  • James Madison
    • Virginia planter and 3-term representative in Congress
  • Worked together to organize national convention to rewrite the Articles
constitutional convention
  • 55 delegates showed up in Philadelphia and met from May to September 1787.
  • Called “Founding Fathers” but were generally young men
    • Most in the 20s or 30s
    • Only Benjamin Franklin was really old
    • Most had experience in business, plantation management or politics
      • 39 had been members of Congress
      • 21 had been officers in Revolutionary army
  • Selected George Washington to preside over meeting
new constitution new procedures
  • Convention ignored directive to revise Articles and instead wrote entirely new constitution
    • Also declared that it would take effect after it had been ratified by at least 9 of 13 states in individual conventions
  • Clearly in violation of Articles but Congress did not protest
    • Allowed the new ratification procedures invented by Convention to go into effect
the constitution i
  • Provided for national government much more powerful than the one set up by the Articles
    • Clearly separate from and superior to the governments of individual states
    • Had new powers to tax, regulate trade, draft soldiers, and exclusive control of printing money
    • Individual states deprived of a number of former powers
      • Such as right to issue paper money
  • States left free to exercise any power not explicitly denied them in Constitution
    • Represented on an equal basis in the upper house (Senate) where each state had two representatives regardless of size
the constitution ii
  • Checks and balances between three branches of government
    • Legislative, executive, and judicial branches
  • New Congress
    • Two houses (Senate and House of Representatives
      • Each elected a different way, members served different terms, and both have to agree before a bill can pass
  • President
    • Served four-year term
    • Selected by electoral college
    • Had power of veto
  • Supreme Court
    • Appointed by president for life
    • Made sure actions of president and Congress did not violate Constitution
the constitution iii
  • Complicated structure came about by accident, not by deliberate planning
    • Result of numerous compromises between opposing views at Convention
  • Complexity made Founding Fathers hope that it would be impossible for any single special interest group to gain absolute power over the government
    • Elaborate system would prevent any single branch of government from gaining dictatorial control of entire system
slavery and the constitution
  • No one proposed giving slaves civil rights or right to vote
  • Dispute was over whether slaves should be counted when determining a state’s representation in House of Representatives
    • Southerners wanted slaves counted in determining representation
    • Northerners opposed counting them
  • Issue resolved by compromise
    • Slaves would count as 3/5s of a person when determining population for purposes of representation
the slave trade
  • Some northern delegates wanted to outlaw slave trade in U.S.
    • Strongly opposed by southern delegates
  • Settled by compromise
    • Until 1808, Congress would not interfere with slave trade
    • After 1808, Congress could regulate and even abolish slave trade
ratification campaign
  • Ratification required that each state nominated a ratification convention and if nine of these conventions approved the Constitution, it would go into effect
  • Vast publicity campaign accompanied ratification
    • Those who favored ratification called themselves Federalists
    • Those who opposed ratification called themselves Anti-Federalists
  • Enjoyed numerous advantages
    • Had positive program
    • Were well-organized
    • Had superior leadership
    • Had two of the best-known men in country on their side
      • George Washington and Benjamin Franklin
federalist papers
  • Federalists also had three of the greatest political thinkers of the day on their side
    • Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
      • Wrote newspaper essays on the virtues of the Constitution
        • Under pen-name “Publius”
        • Published later as Federalist Papers

Hamilton, Madison and Jay

anti federalists
  • Resorted mainly to negative arguments
    • That Constitution was illegal because the Convention had exceeded its original charge to modify the Articles of Confederations
    • That national government created by Constitution was too powerful
      • That it would favor the wealthy and destroy individual liberties
    • That document did not have Bill of Rights to protect liberties of American people

Delaware, New Jersey, and Georgia were first states to ratify

Virginia . New York, and North Carolina finally ratify—but only after Bill of Rights was promised

Followed by Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts

Nine states had now ratified Constitution but without New York and Virginia, everyone knew that new government did not have a chance

Rhode Island did not even hold convention until May 1790