Creating a Constitution and Forming a Democratic Government: the United States of America Example


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The Articles of the Confederation provided the first form of government in the United States of America. In 1787, they decided to create a better form of government, and is now the form we use today. They eventually created the Constitution, and our Bill of Rights. There were many problems with the Articles of the Confederation. There were two compromises made that dealt with differences between states. Two groups were formed, Federalists and Anti-Federalists, that had different opinions on the Constitution. Now, we understand how our Constitution was made, and the struggle it was to form the government we have today.

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The Articles of the Confederation had two major problems that created a poor form of government. One of these problems was there was conflicts between states. Both New Hampshire and New York claimed the future state of Vermont. The articles did not give the government power to resolve these conflicts. As shown in the textbook “The American Nation”, Noah Webster once said, “So long as any individual state has power to defeat the measures of the other twelve, our pretended union is but a name, and our confederation, a cobweb.” As Webster said, the Articles of the Confederation would only cause the state that has the most power to attempt to defeat all the others. Another problem was money. After the American Revolution, the United States was in extreme debt to not only individuals, but other countries. They asked the states for money to help, but they constantly refused. The Continental Congress started printing money during the revolution, but it was worth very little. States started to print their own currency, and most states didn’t allow other state’s currencies to be accepted in their state. This is shown in the textbook “The American Nation” when it is written, “As continental dollars became nearly worthless, states printed their own currency. This caused confusion. How much was a North Carolina dollar worth? Was a Virginia dollar as valuable as a Maryland dollar? Most states refused to accept the money of others. As a result, trade became very difficult.” The Articles of the Confederation only caused confusion and conflict in trade between states.

There were two constitutional compromises that dealt with differences between states. The first was the Great Compromise. It was a plan presented by the state of Connecticut to resolve a conflict between New Jersey and Virginia. Both states had plans for the new national government. They both wanted three branches of government, but disagreed on seats in the legislature. Virginia presented a plan that gave states seats in Congress by population. New Jersey, along with many other smaller states disagreed with this plan because states would not be equally represented and larger states could easily outvote them. Eventually, Connecticut created a plan to combine both ideas. Created by Robert Sherman, the compromise proposed creating a two-house legislature. Members of the House of Representatives (the lower house), would be elected. As the larger states wished, seats in this house would be given to each state according to the population. Members of the Senate (the upper house) would be chosen by the state legislatures. Each state, would have two senators, which appealed to smaller states. This became the plan used, and is shown in document 6 when it is written, “The Senate: Equal representation, Two Senators from each state. The House of Representatives: Representation is based on population of the states. The Number of representatives varies between states.” If this plan hadn’t been chosen, we may have chosen a plan that was ineffective, or never made a new plan. The second constitutional compromise was the Three-Fifths Compromise. Southerners wanted to count slaves in the population count, because they would have more seats in the House of Representatives. Northern states disagreed, and said slaves should be counted for taxes but not when giving representatives. The states agreed that three fifths of the slaves in every state would be counted for both taxes and representation. This is shown in document 5 when it is written, “…which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons…” This plan temporarily stopped argument between the north and south states.

Federalists and Anti-Federalists had two different views about the Constitution. Federalists didn’t want a Bill of Rights, and argued the Articles of Confederation left too much power with the states. Federalists believed that the Constitution gave the national government the power it needed to function, but at the same time protect the rights of individual states. This is shown in document 7 when it is written, “Two groups opposed each other, the Federalists who wanted a strong government and no bill of rights…” Anti-Federalists wanted more power for the states, and a Bill of Rights. They thought the constitution would give the President too much power. This is shown in document 7 when it is written, “Many of the founding fathers were demanding a “bill of rights” which would protect the people from the government. This bill of rights was to be added to the Constitution to guarantee individual liberties, to make sure that the new government would not treat citizens like the old colonial government of Great Britain did…the Anti-Federalists who wanted more power for the states and a bill of rights.” They both wanted the best for their country, but had different opinions on which way was the best. Eventually, they agreed to have a Bill of Rights.

In 1787, when we decided to create a better form of government than The Articles of the Confederation. We created the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. There were many problems with the Articles of the Confederation, but we made compromises to prevent conflict between states. The two groups that were formed, Federalists and Anti-Federalists, eventually agreed on the final Constitution. Now, we use this form of government today, thanks to the constitutional Convention.

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