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Mr. Brush
U.S. History
Constitution Notes
The Critical Period-“The Critical Period” in American history refers to the United States
under the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation- Under the Articles of Confederation, (1) the national
government did not have the power to impose taxes on the citizens of the states
(2) the states retained their individual sovereignty and each, regardless of population, was
to have one vote in the Confederation Congress
(3) there was to be no single, separate, powerful executive
(4) an amendment required the approval of all the states
(5) nine out of thirteen states were required to pass legislation
(6) there was no national court system
(7) it provided a precedent for the transition of territories to statehood called the
Northwest Ordinance of 1787
Shay’s Rebellion
The nation was going through an a bad recession and a group of people in Western
Massachusetts failed to pay taxes during their economic hardship and as a result their
property was seized and in some cases they were jailed. They revolted and the weak
central government could not quell the violence or the rebellion. This incident proved to
solidify in the minds of the members of the Constitutional Convention, that a stronger,
and more unified central government was needed to put down any state or local rebellion
against a federal government.
The Constitutional Convention of 1787
(1) The success of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 hinged on compromises over
slavery and representation in Congress
(2) The rate at which one slave counted toward congressional representation was called
the Three-Fifths Compromise
Slavery had been embedded into the economic lifestyle of the South since the colonial
legislators had replaced indentured servants with African slaves after Bacon’s Rebellion
in 1676. There had to be a compromise over slavery or the nation would cease to exist
because the South was dependent on slave labor for their economic survival. That
concession was the Three-Fifths Compromise. Another concession was that twenty years
after the adoption of the Constitution, Congress banned the importation of slaves to the
United States.
(3) Representation in Congress came in the form of the Virginia Plan (Edmund
Randolph) with two houses of Congress, both elected with proportional representation
and the New Jersey Plan (William Paterson) one vote per state for equal representation
under one legislative body
(4) Roger Sherman proposed Connecticut or the Great Compromise that had a
bicameral legislature consisting of the current Senate and House of Representatives
Passage of the Constitution
(1) The Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton wanted a strong central government and
they included the wealthy including merchants, large planters; During the campaign to
ratify the Constitution, the Federalists argued for ratification of the Constitution, with a
possible bill of rights to be discussed after ratification
(2) The Anti-federalists led by Thomas Jefferson wanted protection from the strong
federal government in the form of a bill of rights and they included John Hancock and
Patrick Henry (a) included those afraid of federal power to tax and (b) debtors, (c) their
political support came mostly from backcountry and agricultural areas
(3) The Federalist Papers (New York) were written by Alexander Hamilton, James
Madison, and John Jay as propaganda to support the ratification of the Constitution
Purpose of Constitution
is to ensure an equal distribution of power between branches and a re-distribution of
power to its citizens that have experienced discrimination
Essay for this Unit
1. Analyze and discuss to what extent was the Constitution a radical departure from the
Articles of Confederation.