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The New Political Order 1776–1800

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1 The New Political Order 1776–1800
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2 Creating Republican Institutions, 1776–1787
The State Constitutions: How Much Democracy?

3 In 1776, Congress urged Americans to suppress royal authority and establish new governing institutions by writing state constitutions. The Declaration of Independence stated that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Pennsylvania’s constitution abolished property owning as a test of citizenship, allowed all-male taxpayers to vote and hold office, and created a unicameral legislature with complete power.

4 John Adams denounced the Pennsylvania unicameral legislature as “so democratical that it must produce confusion and every evil work.” In his Thoughts on Government (1776), Adams devised a legal system of government that dispersed authority by assigning lawmaking, administering, and judging to separate branches; called for a bicameral legislature in which the upper house, filled with property-owning men, would check the power of the popular majorities in the lower house; proposed an elected governor with the power to veto laws and an appointed—not elected—judiciary to review them.

5 Patriots endorsed Adams’s system because it preserved representative government while restricting popular power, but were wary of a veto power for the governor and most states did retain proper qualifications for voting. The Adams bicameral legislature emerged as the dominant branch of government, and state constitutions apportioned seats on the basis of population. Most of the state legislatures were filled by new sorts of political leaders; ordinary citizens increasingly chose to elect men of “middling circumstances” rather than electing their social “betters.”

6 Only in Vermont and Pennsylvania were radical Patriots able to take power and create democratic institutions, yet everywhere representative legislatures had more power and the day-to-day politics became much more responsive to the demands of average citizens. Upper-class women entered into the debate but remained second-class citizens unable to participate directly in politics. The republican quest for educated citizenry provided the avenue for the most important advances made by American women.

7 ***Most state constitutions and government systems were arranged so that those controlling post-Revolutionary America were the same people who had ruled before the war but also included more yeomen farmers, middling farmers, and artisans.

8 The Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation were passed by Congress in November 1777 and ratified in 1781. The Articles provided for a loose confederation in which each state retained its independence as well as the powers and rights not “expressly delegated” to the United States. ***This meant that it provided the young republic with the framework for a dynamic society, leaving to each state various rights and powers but uniting all under a central government with authority in foreign and domestic affairs of state.

9 The confederation government was given the authority to declare war and peace, make treaties, and adjudicate disputes between states, print money, and requisition funds from the states. A major weakness under the Articles was that Congress lacked the authority to impose taxes. Robert Morris persuaded Congress to charter the Bank of North America in hopes its notes could stabilize the inflated Continental currency.

10 The Confederation refused Morris’s proposal for an import duty to raise revenues for the national government. Instead, Congress asserted the Confederation’s title to the trans-Appalachian West in order to sell it and raise additional revenue for the government. The Northwest Territory was established, and three ordinances in the 1780s provided for its orderly settlement while reducing the prospect of secessionist movements and dependent “colonies” of the states.




14 Shays’s Rebellion In the East, peace brought recession: the British Navigation Acts barred Americans from trading with the British West Indies and low-priced British goods flooded American markets. State governments were saddled with large war debts in the form of bonds, which speculators demanded state governments redeem quickly, and at full value, a policy that required high taxes, yet yeomen farmers and artisans, hard hit by the postwar recession, demanded and were given tax relief.

15 To assist indebted yeomen, many states printed more paper currency and passed laws allowing debtors to pay their creditors in installments. The lack of such debtor-relief legislation in Massachusetts provoked an armed uprising led by Captain Daniel Shays, known as Shay’s Rebellion—as a struggle against taxes imposed by a distant government. To preserve its authority, Massachusetts passed a Riot Act outlawing illegal assemblies. Shay’s army dwindled during the winter of 1786–1787 and was dispersed by Governor James Bowdoin’s military force.

16 ***Shays's Rebellion was essentially a struggle about the lack of debtor-relief legislation.
Shays's Rebellion rose out of the discontent of financially strapped farmers who found themselves facing high taxes imposed by the Massachusetts state government to benefit wealthy speculators seeking the redemption of their state debt certificates. The rebellion did not deal with the power of the national government, although it did convince many that the central government needed more authority in relation to the sovereign states. The rebellion did not deal directly with the level of democracy in the government system either, and because farmers had the vote, they were able to force some tax relief. There were no Loyalists involved in the rebellion; Shays, in fact, was a Continental army veteran.

17 ***A postwar crisis developed for all of the following reasons
Many families who had suffered while supporting the war felt that they had traded one kind of tyranny for another; others feared the fate of the republican experiment. ***A postwar crisis developed for all of the following reasons state governments were burdened by war debts and were forced to raise taxes. American trade, no longer protected by the Navigation Acts, slumped. political struggles developed between creditors and debtors.

18 ***Congress allowed Virginia and North Carolina to oversee settlement south of the Ohio River, thereby indirectly allowing slavery to expand, but in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, slavery was specifically prohibited north of the Ohio River.

19 The Rise of a Nationalist Faction
The Constitution of 1787 The Rise of a Nationalist Faction

20 Money questions dominated the postwar agenda; officials looked at them from a national rather than a state perspective. Without tariff revenues, Congress could not pay the interest on foreign debt, but key commercial states in the North and most planters in the South opposed national tariffs.

21 In 1786, the Virginia legislature met to discuss tariff and taxation policies and called for a convention in Philadelphia and a revision of the Articles of Confederation.

22 The Philadelphia Convention
In May 1787, delegates from every state except Rhode Island arrived in Philadelphia; most were “monied men” who supported creditors’ property rights and a central government. George Washington was elected as presiding officer, and, to forestall popular opposition, decided to deliberate in secret.

23 The delegates exceeded their mandate to revise the Articles of Confederation and considered James Madison’s Virginia Plan for national government. Madison’s plan favored national authority, called for a national republic that drew its authority from all the people and had direct power over them, and created a three-tiered national government in which the people would elect only the lower house of the legislature. The plan had two flaws: citizens would oppose the national government’s vetoing of state laws, and small states would object because they would have less influence than larger states.

24 Delegates from the small states preferred the New Jersey Plan that strengthened the Confederation by giving it the power to raise revenue, control commerce, and make binding requisitions on the states, but preserved the states’ control over their laws and guaranteed their equality. The Virginia Plan was passed by a bare majority, but the final plan had to be acceptable to existing political interests and social groups. A “Great Compromise” was accepted wherein the Senate would seat two members from each state, while seats in the House would be appointed on the basis of population.

25 ***James Madison's Virginia Plan differed from the New Jersey Plan in that it gave the national government the power to overturn state laws. Overall, it created a far more powerful central government than the New Jersey Plan, which retained greater authority in the states and the unicameral legislature of the Articles of Confederation. Neither plan called for a popularly elected president.

26 The convention vested the judicial powers of the United States “in one supreme Court” and left the national legislature to decide whether to establish lower courts. The convention placed the selection of the president in an electoral college chosen on a state-by-state basis. Congress was denied the power to regulate slavery for twenty years.

27 To protect the property of southern slave owners, delegates agreed to a “fugitive” clause that allowed masters to reclaim enslaved blacks—or white indentured servants— who took refuge in other states; to mollify antislavery sentiment in the northern states, the delegates did not give slavery national legal recognition by explicitly mentioning it in the Constitution (which spoke instead of citizens and “all other Persons”).

28 ***Chesapeake slave owners wanted an end to the Atlantic slave trade because they already had ample numbers of slaves; they would benefit by the creation of an internal slave market without competition from overseas. There was no need to push for the western expansion of slavery, as that had already been mandated for the territories south of the Ohio River.

29 The Constitution was to be the supreme law of the land, and national government was given power over taxation, military defense, and external commerce and given the power to make laws. The Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787, mandated that the United States honor the national debt and restricted the ability of states’ governments to assist Debtors.

30 The People Debate Ratification
The Constitution would go into effect upon ratification by special conventions in at least nine of the thirteen states. Nationalists began calling themselves “Federalists” and launched a political campaign supporting the proposed Constitution through pamphlets and newspaper articles.

31 ***The nationalists took all of the following assertive actions to ensure the ratification of a new constitution calling for a convention in Philadelphia to consider revisions to the Articles of Confederation. specifying that the Constitution would go into effect if ratified by special conventions in at least nine states. offering to the convention not a revision of the Articles of Confederation but a completely new constitutional framework.

32 ***The Constitution established equitable state representation by creating two houses of Congress. It also allowed southern states to include slaves for representation but only as three-fifths of a person, and it established a Supreme Court but left it to Congress to determine whether there would be national courts in the states. Although the Constitution was to be the highest law, the national government remained restricted, and the states reserved certain powers for themselves.

33 Anti-federalists, opponents of the Constitution, feared losing their power at the state level and pointed out that it lacked a declaration of individual rights. Well-educated Americans with traditional republican outlooks wanted the nation to remain a collection of small sovereign republics tied together only for trade and defense. The Federalists pointed out that national authority would be divided among a president, a bicameral legislature, and a judiciary and that each branch would check and balance the other.

34 Addressing an Anti-federalist argument, Federalists promised to amend the Constitution with a bill of individual rights. Federalist Papers series of 85 articles arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution . John Jay James Madison Alexander Hamilton

35 All of the essays were signed "PUBLIUS" and the actual authors of some are under dispute, but the general consensus is that Alexander Hamilton wrote 52, James Madison wrote 28, and John Jay contributed the remaining five.

36 Against great odds, the Federalists had created a national republic and partly restored an elitist system of political authority. To endow their regime with moral legitimacy, Federalists placed a copy of the Constitution on an “altar of liberty,” using sacred symbolism to lay the foundations for a secular “civil religion” of American nationality.




40 Farrand's Records The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 One of the great scholarly works of the early twentieth century was Max Farrand's The Records of the Federal Convention of Published in 1911, Farrand's work gathered the documentary records of the Constitutional Convention into four volumes--three of which are included in this online collection--containing the materials necessary to study the workings of the Constitutional Convention. According to Farrand's introduction, at the close of the convention, the secretary, William Johnson, delivered all the materials to the president of the convention, George Washington, who turned these papers over to the Department of State in In 1818, Congress ordered that the records be printed, which was done under the supervision of the Secretary of State John Q. Adams, in 1819. Farrand's Records remains the single best source for discussions of the Constitutional Convention. The notes taken at that time by James Madison, and later revised by him, form the largest single block of material other than the official proceedings. The three volumes also includes notes and letters by many other participants, as well as the various constitutional plans proposed during the convention (This slide copied verbatim from For more documents go to:

41 ***The Federalists won ratification for all of the following reasons
they promised to add guarantees of individual rights to the Constitution. they gave themselves a name that obscured the centralizing changes they wanted. they were able to organize effectively and convince readers of their arguments in dozens of pamphlets and newspaper articles.

42 The Federalists Implement the Constitution
Federalists swept the election of 1788; members of the electoral college chose George Washington as president, and John Adams became vice president. The Constitution gave the president the power to appoint major officials with the consent of the Senate, but Washington insisted that only the president could remove them.

43 The Judiciary Act of 1789 created a hierarchical federal court system with a Federal district court in each state as well as three circuit courts to hear appeals. The Judiciary Act permitted constitutional matters to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which had the final say. The Federalists added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, which safeguarded certain fundamental rights and mandated certain legal procedures to protect the individual.


45 The Political Crisis of the 1790s
Hamilton’s Financial Program

46 ***In his financial program, Hamilton wanted to
The Federalists divided into two irreconcilable factions over financial policy, with Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson defining contrasting views of the American future. Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, devised bold and controversial policies to enhance the authority of the national government and to favor financiers and seaport merchants. ***In his financial program, Hamilton wanted to empower the central government by connecting its interests to those of the elite. Hamilton’s Report on the Public Credit asked Congress to redeem millions of dollars in securities issued by the Confederation, providing windfall profits to speculators

47 The House rejected James Madison’s proposal for helping the shopkeepers, farmers, and soldiers who were the original owners of the Confederation securities. Congress approved Hamilton’s second proposal that the national government assume the war debts of the states (which unleashed a flurry of speculation and some government corruption) after Hamilton agreed to reimburse those states that had already paid off much of their war debt and backed locating the permanent national capital along the banks of the Potomac

48 Hamilton asked Congress to charter the Bank of the United States, to be jointly owned by private stockholders and the national government. Washington signed the legislation creating the bank, although Jefferson and Madison charged that a national bank was unconstitutional because the Constitution did not specifically provide for one. In 1792, Congress imposed a variety of domestic excise taxes and modestly increased tariffs on foreign imports. Increased trade and customs revenue allowed the treasury to pay for Hamilton’s redemption and assumption programs.

49 Jefferson’s Agrarian Vision
By 1793, most northern Federalists adhered to the political alliance led by Hamilton and most southerners to a rival group headed by Madison and Jefferson, the Republicans. ***Jefferson objected to Hamilton's fiscal programs because they went beyond a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

50 Jefferson pictured a West settled by farm families whose grain and meat would feed Europeans in exchange for clothing and other comforts. During the 1790s, Jefferson’s vision was fulfilled as warfare disrupted European farming. Simultaneously, a boom in the export of raw cotton boosted the economy of the lower South.

51 The French Revolution Divides Americans
American merchants profited from the European war because a Proclamation of Neutrality allowed American citizens to trade with both sides. The American merchant fleet increased dramatically, commercial earnings rose, and work was available to thousands of Americans. Even as they prospered from the European struggle, Americans argued passionately over its ideologies and events.

52 The ideological conflicts sharpened the debate over Hamilton’s economic policies and brought on disruptions such as the Whiskey Rebellion, a protest against new excise taxes on spirits. ***For Federalists, the Whiskey Rebellion was not simply a tax revolt. Because the rebels borrowed slogans from the French Revolution, which Federalists believed had gotten out of control, anxieties over the Whiskey Rebellion ran high, and the rebels were perceived as especially dangerous and volatile.

53 In 1793, the Royal Navy began to prey on American ships bound for France from the West Indies.
To avoid war, John Jay was sent to Britain and returned with a treaty that Republicans denounced as too conciliatory. As long as the Federalists were in power, the United States would have a pro-British foreign policy.

54 ***Jay's Treaty gave the British a guarantee of payment of pre-Revolutionary War debts to British merchants and the right to take French goods off American ships, while the United States got a British promise to remove forts in the West, something already promised in the Treaty of Paris in There was no agreement to return confiscated property to Loyalists.

55 The Rise of Political Parties
***Two political factions grew out of the Federalists as a result of conflict over Hamilton's fiscal programs. State and national constitutions made no provisions for political parties because they were considered unnecessary and dangerous. Merchants and creditors favored Federalist policies, while the Republican coalition included support from farmers and planters.

56 During the election of 1796, the Federalists celebrated Washington’s achievements, and Republicans invoked the egalitarian principles of the Declaration of Independence. Federalists elected John Adams as president, and he continued Hamilton’s pro-British foreign policy.

57 Responding to the XYZ Affair, the Federalists controlled Congress, cut off trade with France, and authorized American privateers to seize French ships, which extended party conflict begun over Hamilton’s economic policies to foreign affairs.

58 Constitutional Crisis, 1798–1800
To silence its critics, Federalists enacted a series of coercive measures—the Naturalization Act, the Alien Act, and the Sedition Act—which created a constitutional crisis. Republicans charged that the Sedition Act violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.

59 At Republicans’ urging, the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures declared the Alien and Sedition Acts to be void, resolutions that set forth a “states’ rights” interpretation of the Constitution. Republicans strongly supported Jefferson’s bid for the 1800 presidency. Adams rejected the advice of Federalists to declare war on France and instead negotiated an end to the fighting.

60 Jefferson won a narrow 73 to 65 victory in the electoral college, but Republicans also gave 73 votes to Aaron Burr, sending the election to the House of Representatives. Federalists in the House blocked Jefferson’s election until Hamilton, declaring Burr “unfit” for the presidency, persuaded key Federalists to vote for Jefferson.

61 The bloodless transfer of power demonstrated that governments elected by the people could be changed in an orderly way, even amidst bitter partisan conflict and foreign crisis. It was therefore termed by Jefferson the “Revolution of 1800.”

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