Presentation on theme: "The Story of the Constitution. During the Revolutionary War, the colonists had been fighting for their rights as Englishmen. With the signing of the Declaration."— Presentation transcript:
During the Revolutionary War, the colonists had been fighting for their rights as Englishmen. With the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a new and independent nation was born.
The colonies worked together until the war was won. Then they became almost like thirteen little separate countries. Each state made its own money. Each had its own way of taxing. They did not even call themselves Americans. They were New Yorkers, Virginians, and Pennsylvanians. They had not learned to be united and to work together.
A group was organized to draw up a plan of government called the Articles of Confederation. This was an exciting experiment in government. Most countries were ruled by kings. The idea of people making their own laws was a brand new one. There was no government like it in the world.
The Articles were not strong enough to work properly. There were several things wrong. Each state wanted to be free and independent. They insisted on making their own decisions. The central government had little power.
There was no executive head. Laws could not be enforced. The central government had no troops. The country was in debt from the war and could ask for money from the states. However, the central government could not make them pay.
Each state and the central government printed its own money. This made it very difficult to trade with other states. Finally, when some farmers in Massachusetts found that they could not even pay their state taxes because their money was not worth anything.
Under the leadership of Daniel Shays (a farmer), they marched in revolt against the government of Massachusetts. The central government realized that they needed a stronger central government.
A meeting was called. All thirteen states were to send their representatives to the State House in Philadelphia,PA. In May of 1787,55 men finally went to work behind closed doors. All were eager to repair the Articles so that their new country would continue to grow strong.
George Washington was elected president of the convention. It soon became clear that the Articles of Confederation could not be used. A new plan of government had to be written. They would call this document the Constitution.
They agreed on the reasons for writing the Constitution. They wanted the states to get along together (domestic tranquility). They wanted the country to defend itself(provide defense). They wanted to secure liberty for themselves and their children (posterity).
There were many things the Founding Fathers did not agree on. Some wanted a President for life. Small states wanted as much to say in making the laws as big states. Some wanted a strong national/central government. It took them all summer to draft the seven articles of the Constitution. It became known as The Great Compromise.
The hot summer of 1787 drew to a close.The United States had a new form of government. But now it needed the support of the people. Nine states must ratify it before it could become law.This finally happened in 1788. Two years later a national Bill of Rights was added. It included freedom of the press, religion, speech,assembly, privacy and the rights of persons accused of crimes.
The fifty-five men who met in Philadelphia in 1787 can be proud of the work they did. They designed a completely new form of government when they wrote the Constitution. They left out the details and provided just the framework for the government. And the Constitution, often called a bundle of compromises, has worked better than any of its planners could have foreseen.