Chapter 7 A More Perfect Union

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US HISTORY
Chapter 7
A More Perfect Union
1777-1790
Section 1
The Articles of Confederation
State Constitutions
 A constitution is a plan of
government
 At the beginning of the war, each
state was asked to create their
own constitutions by the
continental congress
 States wanted to limit the power of
the executive (leader)
 People were elected to office (voted
in)
Popular Politics
 State constitutions restricted the power
of governors – Person in charge of a
state
 This made legislatures in charge. They
are the people that make laws (smaller
congresses)
 Once the state governments were set
up, the citizens believed America should
be a republic – or a government
which citizens rule through elected
representatives.
Power for the States…Initially
 The people originally wanted states to
act like small countries, united by a
weaker central government
 The second continental congress
developed the Articles of
Confederation
Articles of Confederation
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Adopted by Second Continental Congress in November 1777
Became first constitution for US
Under the Articles, states kept most of their power
Congress could conduct foreign affairs, maintain armed
forces, borrow money, & issue currency
 Congress could NOT regulate trade, force citizens to join the
army, or impose taxes
 Under the Articles, each state had one vote in
Congress...9/13 states had to approve any laws...13/13 states
had to approve amendments
Approving the Articles
 Under the plan, each state had one
vote in the Confederation Congress
 Large states with more people
thought they should have more votes
 States also argued about rights for
the western land
 Eventually all states agreed on the
articles
Problems with the Articles
 Congress could not pass a law unless
9 states voted in favor of it.
 There was no provision for allowing
new states from the Western Territory
 Eventually they decided to allow
states when a territories population
reached that of the smallest existing
state.
Land Ordinance of 1785
 Established the procedure
for surveying & selling the
western lands north of the
Ohio River
 Set up the township system
 6 miles x 6 miles
 36 sections  each 1 mile
x 1 mile
 1 section reserved for
schools
 Lands sold at auction to
raise money to pay off debt
from Revolutionary War
Northwest Ordinance
 Passed in 1787
 Created the Northwest
Territory (lands east of the
Mississippi River and north of
the Ohio River)
 NW Territory was to be
divided into 3-5 smaller
territories and each of the
smaller territories could apply
for statehood once their
population reached 60,000
 Slavery was made illegal here
 first attempt by the govt. to
stop the spread of slavery
Land Act of 1800
 Law written by William
Henry Harrison (NW
Territory rep in the House
of Representatives)
 Law made it easier to buy
land in NW Territory by
setting up payment plan
 Settler had to buy at least
320 acres for
$2/acre…paid one-half of
the cost up front and rest
in four yearly payments
Financial Problems
 By 1781, the money printed during
the Revolution had depreciated or
lost value to the point where it was
completely worthless
 The confederation could not pay back
the war debts.
 It requested money from states, but
they only provided roughly 1/6 of the
money needed
Solution Shot Down
 A merchant named Robert Morris
suggested collecting a 5% tax on
imported goods to help pay the
national debt.
 It required all states approving it, but
Rhode Island shot it down
 The financial crisis got worse
Problems with Britain
 Britain kept their troops in certain
forts in the great lakes area
 However, Britain claimed America was
in violation of the Treaty of Paris for
not paying loyalists for property taken
from them during the revolution.
 The congress recommended to pay
the loyalists, but the states refused.
Problems of Spain
 Spain was even more upset at
Americans going west into their territory
 They closed the lower Mississippi River
to American Shipping in 1784
 The government compromised to limit
American shipping in return for Spain
accepting the border between Georgia
and Florida.
 The Southern States rejected the
agreement, because they wanted full
use of the Mississippi
The Weak Articles of
Confederation
 The Government that the Articles of
Confederation had created was very
weak
 George Washington described the
government as, “Little more than
the shadow without the
substance”
 Many Americans now called for a
stronger national government
Problems with the Articles
 Value of currency decreased,
price of goods increased
 Congress had huge debt
with no power to pay it off
(couldn’t tax)
 Britain held onto forts in the
Great Lakes region
 Spain cut off access to the
lower Mississippi River
Section 2
Convention and Compromise
Depression
 America went through a depression
after the war, or a period when
economic activity slows and
unemployment increases.
 Southern Plantations were damaged
during the war
 Rice exports dropped Sharply
 Farmers could not sell their goods,
and many were arrested for not
paying their debt
Shays’ Rebellion
 Began in 1786 (MA)
 Farmers were thrown in
jail because they
couldn’t pay their debts
Trouble in Massachusetts
 Farmers saw the government as
another form of tyranny
 Daniel Shays and other angry
farmers took the law into their own
hands and forced courts to close so
no one could take their land
 He then led his army to a federal
arsenal of weapons
Shays Rebellion
 The guards fired over the heads of
the mob, over and over but the mob
didn’t stop
 Eventually they fired and killed 4
farmers
 Shays Rebellion was over, but
Americans were now worried their
government could not protect them
from violence.
Slavery
 Between 1784 and 1804,
Pennsylvania, New Hampshire,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York,
and New Jersey outlawed slavery
 This divided the country because
slavery was still a large part of the
Southern economy
Call for Reform
 Now there was a demand for a
change to the Articles of
Confederation
 James Madison, and Alexander
Hamilton, came to Philadelphia for
change
 George Washington, originally against
changing the Articles, changed his
mind after Shays Rebellion
Constitutional Convention
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Many called for a change to the Articles
Convention began in Philadelphia in May 1787
Purpose was to change the Articles
55 delegates...12/13 states represented (RI)
George Washington selected as President of the Convention
James Madison kept meticulous notes...later became known
as the “Father of the Constitution”
 Meetings were not public...delegates wanted to be free to
change their mind
 After the Convention began, decision was made to scrap the
Articles and write a new Constitution
The Constitutional Convention
 Representatives from all over the
nation, ranging in age from 30 to an
over 80 year old Ben Franklin,
attended the meeting
 The meeting was a closed door
meeting, or the information was kept
from the public
 Each state delegation would have one
vote and a majority vote would be
used to make decisions
Virginia Plan
 Plan was written by James
Madison, presented by
Edmund Randolph
 Called for a two-house
legislature, a chief executive
chosen by the legislature,
and a court system
 Legislature – both houses
would be based on
population
 Delegates from Delaware,
New Jersey, and other
small states did not agree,
immediately objected
New Jersey Plan
 William Paterson of New Jersey
presented a plan that gave
congress more power to tax and
regulate trade
 Called for a one-house legislature
based on equal representation
 Legislature would be able to set
taxes and regulate trade (unable
to do these under the Articles)
 Legislature would select executive
branch (more than one person)
The Great Compromise
 Settled the debate b/w large
& small states
 Called for a two-house
legislature
 Lower House (House of
Representatives) – based on
population
 Upper House (Senate) –
based on equal
representation...each state
gets two Senators
3/5 Compromise
 With one house being based
on population, question was
raised on how to count slaves
 Neither side wanted to give
African Americans the right
to vote
 Compromise was to count 3/5
of all slaves for representation
& taxation purposes
 Also agreed that Congress
could not interfere with slave
trade until 1808
Other Compromises
 The northern states let the southern
states continue slavery, and pledged
not to interfere for 20 years
 The draft of the constitution did not
include a bill of rights
 When 9 of 13 states approved, the
new government would be created,
instead of a unanimous agreement
needed for previous
Approval of the Constitution
 September 17, 1787 –
delegates assembled
to sign the Constitution
 Constitution was sent
to the states...would
become the law of the
land once 9/13 states
approved it
Lesson 3 – A New Plan of Government
 Federalists v. Anti-Federalists
 Supporters of the new Constitution were called
Federalists  included George Washington,
Ben Franklin, James Madison, Alexander
Hamilton, & John Jay
 Federalist Papers – series of essays written by
Madison, Hamilton, & Jay  explained why the
Constitution should be ratified
 Anti-Federalists – opposed the Constitution 
Thomas Jefferson & Patrick Henry...felt a strong
national government would take away the
individual liberties fought for in the Revolution
Lesson 3 – A New Plan of Government
 Adopting the Constitution
 Dec 7, 1787 – Delaware became the first state
to ratify
 June 21, 1788 – New Hampshire became 9th
state, made the Constitution go into effect
 NY & VA (2 largest states) still needed to ratify
 Both ratified after getting assurances that a Bill
of Rights would be passed
 May 1790 – RI becomes 13th state to ratify
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