The Constitution
of the United States
Weaknesses of Articles of
Confederation…..a review
• 1. The national government could not force the states to
obey its laws.
• 2. It did not have the power to tax
• 3. It did not have the power to enforce laws
• 4. Congress lacked strong and steady leadership
• 5. There was no national army or navy
• 6. There was no system of national courts
• 7. Each state could issue its own paper money
• 8. Each state could put tariffs on trade between states. (A
tariff is a tax on goods coming in from another state or
Drafting a Constitution
• Articles were doomed to Fail
--A Constitutional Convention was called in 1787
– Many states called for stronger central
• Delegates to the Constitutional Conventionl
– Revolutionary Veterans
– Signers of Declaration of Independence
– White, Landowning, males
Shays Rebellion
• In 1786 some of the farmers had fought back against the
economic inequalities
• Led by Daniel Shays, a former captain in the Continental army, a
group of armed men, prevented the circuit court from sitting at
Northampton, MA, and threatened to seize muskets stored in
the arsenal at Springfield.
• Although the uprising was put down by state troops, the
incident confirmed the fears of many wealthy men that anarchy
was just around the corner.
Constitutional Convention
• The Constitutional Convention took place in the summery of
1787 in Philadelphia (capitol at that time). The convention
was supposed to propose ways to improve the Articles of
• There were many there—James Madison and Alexander
Hamilton who came with a different idea—scrap the Articles
and create a new government.
• General George Washington was chosen to preside over the
3 problems
to solve at the Convention
Problems that need to be solved:
• Problem 1: Balance between State and Federal
• Problem 2: Balance between North and South
• Problem 3: Balance between BIG states and
Small states
• Two Plans proposed– The Virginia Plan & New
Jersey Plan
The Virginia Plan
• Gov. would have 3 branches:
– Executive, Legislative, Judicial
• Legislature would be bi-cameral
(2 house)
– Voters choose lower
– Lower house chooses
Upper house.
– Both based on population
• Population would determine
number of votes of each state (
• National Government has
power over states.
New Jersey Plan
Smaller states objected:
Virginia plan would give
large states (Virginia)
Most of the votes and
NJ Plan:
– Only one house
– Each state would have
equal Representation
in Government
“The Great Compromise”
“The Two Ideas…ought to be combined; that
one branch the people ought to be represented;
in the other the states.”
• The Senate (upper house) would have 2 reps
from each state.
• The Representatives (lower house) would be
based on states’ population.
Compromise on Slavery
Slave Population gave South
huge Pop. Advantage
– Also Raise taxes –
Property Tax
– Southerners wanted to
count for Reps. But not
for Taxes
• 3/5 compromise
– Slave = 3/5 person
– Compromise on Reps.
And Taxes
Compromise on Slavery
No Ban on Slavery
Considered – Unity Needed
more than Abolition
• Agreed:
– Importation would
continue for 20 more
years – then no more
– Fugitive Slave Clause: A
runaway slave to another
state must be returned
to its owner across state
Checks and Balances
Enlightenment ideals states that effective
governments need Checks & Balances
• Balance between President/ Congress
• Balance between States/ Federal
• Convention gave MOST Power to the Congress
(fear of Monarchy)
• President elected by the states – Electoral
– States should follow popular vote
Checks and Balances
• Office of VP – 2nd
place vote recipient
• Each Branch had the
ability to slow/stop
another branch
– Ensured no branch
would have too
much power
– Ensured no branch
could not dominate
the others
Checks and Balances
• Planning the Court
– Wanted courts to
independent status
– Judges nominated
by President/
Approved by
– Judges could not be
fired without just
Federalists vs. AntiFederalists
• Fear of Strong Central Government
• Federalists: Supporters of Constitution with
strong central Gov.
• AntiFederalists: Opponents of the constitution
in its present form and sought a weaker
central Gov.
The Federalists
• Leaders: James Madison,
Alexander Hamilton,
John Adams,
Washington, Franklin
• Strong National Gov. =
Republic Survives
• Fed. Gov. could end
chaos between states
• Separation of Powers
can prevent Tyranny
The Antifederalists
Leaders: Sam Adams, Patrick
Henry, Thomas Jefferson
• Wanted a new Gov. but
not the one proposed
• Suspicious of Strong
central Gov. = just left a
strong Gov.
• Feared Fed. Gov. would
abuse states/ Individuals
– Demanded a Bill of
Rights for protection
Final Ratification?
• Final draft was
submitted to the
states for approval
• Some delegates
refused to sign
because it lacked 1
component – A Bill
of Rights

The Constitution of the United States