What form of national government did the Patriots create initially, and what events revealed that a new government was necessary?
Congress urged the former colonies to create individual state governments. Although state constitutions varied, each provided for a republic where people voted for their representatives. Patriots disagreed over the design of these republics, especially over how much power to give the common people.
Democratic Patriots like Thomas Paine wanted more power for common people. They favored weak state governments with most of their power in a popularly elected legislature. unicameral or one house legislature with either a weak governor or none at all. a large House of Representatives with small districts so that the people had more control.
Most states, including NY & MA, chose to create more conservative state constitutions. They favored: a governor with broad powers. bicameral legislature, with two houses. an upper house or senate made up of wealthy, well-educated gentlemen who would balance a lower house elected by the common people.
In contrast to the colonial era, the new state constitutions expanded the power of the common people. Voters chose the members of both houses of the new legislatures, not just the lower house. States increased the number of representatives, making them more accountable to their people and voters directly elected their governors.
Democratic states like Pennsylvania allowed all male taxpayers over age 21 to vote. Conservative states preserved colonial requirements of property ownership for voting. None gave the vote to women or to slaves. In time, most grew more democratic with the lower house gaining more pow er.
The American Rev. promoted greater religious liberty. Because of this most state guaranteed freedom of religion in their constitutions. In the colonial era, states collected taxes for religious establishments. Now, religious freedom and pluralism became the norm. The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom set the example. It allowed for religious liberty free of state influence.
In 1777, the Continental Congress drafted the original constitution for the union of the states, known as the Article of Confederation. John Dickinson (PA) led the congress to create a loose confederation of 13 states, rather than a strong centralized govt. Congress’s power was limited to prevent the problems experienced under Britain.
The federal/national government consisted of a congress of delegates. State legislatures chose the delegates rather than the voters. States could send as many as 7 delegates but each state, no matter size, had 1 vote. Only congress held the power to make, implement, and enforce laws.
To declare & conduct war and to negotiate peace. To regulate foreign affairs. However, Congress could not raise money through taxes. On minor issues, 7 states were needed for approval, but on major issues (war) it took 2/3 or 9 states to approve. It also took all 13 states to amend the Articles.
Congress had a limited role. There was also no federal court system.
The Articles created a method to settle and govern the Northwest Territory. By selling this land Congress hoped to raise revenue and extend America’s republic westward. Distributing Western Lands
Hundreds of settlers who already crossed the Ohio R. provoked war with Native Americans. The Federal Gov’t could not afford to defend this territory, in addition, they were afraid of these settlers seceding from the Union. To save the Union, the federal leaders needed to regulate frontier settlement.
In a series of laws, Congress established a method of distributing public land. Surveyors divided the territory into a N-S and E-W grid to establish hundreds of townships. Each township was subdivided into one square mile (640 acre) squares to sell at $1 each. Many farmers couldn’t afford the $1 an acre, and some land speculators got special deals.
The Land Ordinance of 1785 grid system is still evident today.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided a government for the western territory based on Thomas Jefferson’s ideas. Congress established a territorial government and appointed a governor. Settlers were guaranteed freedom of religion, trial by jury, and rights of common law. Once there were 5,000 men, an assembly could be elected. The appointed governor retained veto power. Once there were 60,000 residents, a territory could apply for statehood.
barred slavery. required a republican constitution. promised settlers basic freedoms. ignored the rights of Native Americans. resulted in five new states: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota.
Spain did not like American Independence and felt expansion would threaten their colonies in Louisiana and Mexico. Spain forbade trade with New Orleans, thus, taking away usage of the Mississippi R. from America.
Britain tried to cultivate goodwill towards American in the Treaty of Paris. Soon Britain abandoned original feelings and forced America to trade with only British interests in favor. Britain denied American ships access to the British West Indies and the right to export goods to Britain on American ships. Britain kept soldiers in the Northwest territory which embarrassed America.
Growing problems led to calls for a revision of the Articles of Confederation. The nation’s debt was mounting. The economic depression was deepening as debts, bankruptcies, and foreclosures grew. Shays’ Rebellion demonstrated the Federal government’s weakness. Foreign nations did not respect the United States.
A WEAK NATIONAL GOVERNMEN T Congress could not tax or regulate commerce among states No common currency Just one vote per state, size didn’t matter No executive or judicial branch