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The Articles of Confederation

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1 The Articles of Confederation

2 Key Facts About the Articles of Confederation
A confederation is a type of government with a loose union among sovereign states. The central government in a confederation is weak while the member states retain most of their sovereign powers. For example, the modern United Nations is a confederation of sovereign nations. The United States began as a confederation of sovereign states under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation established “a firm league of friendship” with a deliberately weak central government. The drafters of the Articles of Confederation created a weak central government for three reasons: They feared a strong centralized authority that was too remote from the people. Americans were wary of giving their new government powers they had just denied to Parliament. They feared big states such as Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania would dominate the government. They believed that a representative republican government would only work in small communities with common interests. The Articles created a central government consisting of a unicameral (one branch) Congress elected by state legislatures. Each state, regardless of size, had just one vote in Congress.

3 Accomplishments of the Articles of Confederation
The Revolutionary War The Confederate government successfully waged and won the Revolutionary War. The Confederate government successfully negotiated a mutual defense treaty with France. The Confederate government successfully negotiated the Treaty of Paris on favorable terms to the United States, ending the Revolutionary War.

4 Accomplishments of the Articles of Confederation
The Land Ordinance of 1785 Established uniform procedures for surveying western lands into townships and sections. Provided for the sale of public lands in the West at $1/acre with a 640-acre minimum. Reserved one section in each township to support public schools. This marked the first instance of federal aid to education.

5 Accomplishments of the Articles of Confederation
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 Established an orderly procedure for territories to become states equal to the original thirteen states. Banned slavery from the Northwest Territory thus becoming the first national law to prohibit the expansion of slavery. The Northwest Ordinance did NOT provide free land for settlers.

6 Weaknesses and Failures of the Articles of Confederation
Congress lacked the power to levy taxes. The inability to raise revenue made it very difficult to pay off the Revolutionary War debt. Congress lacked the power to regulate interstate or foreign commerce. It failed to restore exports of rice, indigo, and tobacco to Britain while allowing the British to flood the states with manufactured goods. These ineffective policies produced a huge balance of trade deficit. The government lacked an executive branch to enforce national policy and provide national leadership. The government lacked a national judiciary to resolve disputes between states. Congress issued an inflated currency and failed to halt paper money abuses in Rhode Island and other states. The Articles of Confederation lacked the flexibility for making needed changes. Amendments required a unanimous vote of all thirteen states.

7 Shays’s Rebellion, 1787 What happened? What caused Shays’s Rebellion?
Frustrated Massachusetts farmers were losing their farms because they could not repay their debts to eastern creditors in hard currency. The desperate farmers demanded that the state legislature halt farm foreclosures, lower property taxes, issue paper money, and end imprisonment for debt. Led by Captain Daniel Shays, armed farmed closed a courthouse where creditors were suing to foreclose farm mortgages. Wealthy Bostonians raised an army that quickly crushed the “rebellion.” What caused Shays’s Rebellion? Shays’s Rebellion reflected the tensions between impoverished farmers and the wealthy merchants who dominated the Massachusetts legislature.

8 Shays’s Rebellion, 1787 Why should you remember Shays’s Rebellion?
Just before Shays’s Rebellion five states sent delegates to Annapolis to discuss trade problems among the states. Although the Annapolis Convention failed to resolve the commercial problems, it did call upon Congress to summon a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. Shays’s Rebellion frightened many conservatives who feared a breakdown of law and order. The “great compromise” in Massachusetts convinced George Washington, James Madison, and other key leaders that the United States needed a stronger national government.

9 The Constitution 1787

10 Key Principles of the Constitution
The Framers believed that they needed to write a new constitution in order to achieve their goal of forming “a more perfect Union.” The Framers also believed that governments should be limited and that power should be divided into separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The Framers believed that widespread ownership of property is a necessary foundation of representative government. The Framers opposed political parties, seeing them as vehicles of ambition and selfish interests that would threaten the existence of representative government. James Madison believed that a large republic would curb factionalism. He reasoned that “in an expanding Republic, so many different groups and viewpoints would be included in the Congress that tyranny by the majority would be impossible.”

11 Key Provisions of the Constitution Submitted to the States in 1787
A series of compromises that created a government acceptable to large and small states, as well as to free and slave states. A bicameral (or two-house) Congress based upon the Great Compromise between large and small states. According to this compromise representation in the House of Representatives would be apportioned on the basis of population while each state would be allotted two seats in the Senate. A Congress with the authority to levy taxes, declare war, and regulate interstate commerce. An executive branch led by a President. The President would be required to deliver an annual State of the Union message. An Electoral College designed to safeguard the presidency from direct popular election. The Framers believed this would insulate the presidency from the threat of “excessive democracy.”

12 Key Provisions of the Constitution Submitted to the States in 1787
An independent judiciary branch with federal judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. As a result, the judiciary branch would be insulated from popular control. A federal system of government in which power is divided between a central government and state governments. A “necessary and proper” clause also known as the elastic clause. It gives Congress the power to make laws necessary for carrying out its enumerated powers. The elastic clause contradicted states’ rights. A system of checks and balances that included the following: The President can veto an act of Congress. Congress can override a presidential veto by a two-thirds vote in each house. The President negotiates treaties that must be ratified by the Senate.

13 Key Provisions NOT in the Constitution Submitted to the States in 1787
Universal manhood suffrage The direct election of senators – Senators were not directly elected by the people until the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. The two-term limit for a President – Presidents were not limited to two terms until passage of the 22nd Amendment in 1951. Political parties A presidential cabinet A Bill of Rights

14 The Constitution and Slavery
As the Framers met in Philadelphia, a “First Emancipation” was already bring implemented in the North. At that time, northern states had eliminated or were gradually eliminating slavery. In addition, the Confederation Congress had already excluded slavery from the Northwest Territory. As a result, slavery was becoming a distinctive southern institution. Although the words “slave” and “slavery” did not appear in the original Constitution, it nonetheless guaranteed the legality of slavery in every state. This contradicted the assertion in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” The Three-Fifths Compromise resolved a dispute between the slave states and the free states. Under the terms of this compromise each slave counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of determining a state’s level of taxation and representation. This increased the congressional representation of the slave states and gave them a greater voice in the Electoral College. The Constitution contained a provision requiring all states to return runaways to their masters. Congress could not end the importation of slaves until 1808.

15 Key Quote – Abigal Adams “Remember the Ladies” Letter to John Adams
The setting Married women had no legal identity apart from their husbands. Women could not vote, hold a political office, or serve on a jury. Abigal Adams was a well-educated woman who was an early proponent (supporter) of women’s rights. The quote “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 favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.” Significance Abigal Adams urges her husband, John Adams, to advocate greater rights for women. The quote shows that there were colonial women who sought to benefit from republican ideals of equality and individual rights by asking for a greater political voice.

16 The Ratification Debate

17 Key Anti-Federalist Arguments
The proposed Constitution will create a powerful central government what will threaten individual liberties. Anti-Federalists favored a weak national government and strong state governments. The proposed Constitution gives too much power to the President and the Senate. Both are too removed from the people since the President is chosen by the Electoral College and senators are chosen by state legislatures. The Senate will become an aristocratic body that will thwart the will of the more democratic House of Representatives. The proposed Constitution will not work in a large nation with diverse interests. A republic works best in a small nation with a homogenous population. The proposed Constitution does not contain a Bill of Rights listing individual liberties that cannot be violated by the central government. Patrick Henry Samuel Adams James Monroe

18 Key Federalist Arguments
The proposed Constitution creates a federal system in which power is shared between the state and national governments. The powers of the national government are limited to issues affecting the entire country. All other powers are reserved to the states. The proposed Constitution allows the majority to express its will while at the same time protecting minority rights. For example, the separation of powers and the use of checks and balances make it difficult for any special interest to dominate the government. The proposed Constitution will work in a large republic. It will fragment political power and thus curb the threat posed by both the wealthy minority and the non-wealthy majority. The proposed Constitution will create a federal government with enough power to preserve domestic tranquility by quickly responding to disturbances such as Shays’s Rebellion. Alexander Hamilton John Jay John Adams James Madison

19 The Federalist Papers The Federalist Papers are a collection of newspaper editorials written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to support ratification of the Constitution of 1787. The Federalist Papers challenged conventional political wisdom when they asserted that a large republic offered the best protection of minority rights. In Federalist No. 10, Madison argued that political factions are undesirable but inevitable. He believed that a large republic with three branches of government would disperse power and thus curb factionalism.

20 The Bill of Rights The Federalists pledged to add a Bill of Rights to protect the rights of individuals and the states. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion. The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants the right to a speedy trial.

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