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How did the Framers create the Constitution?
Lesson 8:
What were the Articles of Confederation, and Why Did Some
Founders Want to Change Them?
Lesson 9:
Lesson 10: Why Was Representation a Major Issue at the Philadelphia
Lesson 11: What Questions Did the Framers Consider in Designing the
Three Branches of the National Government?
Lesson 12: How Did the Delegates Distribute Powers between National
and State Governments?
Lesson 13: What Was the Anti-Federalist Position in the Debate about
Lesson 14: What Was the Federalist Position in the Debate about
How was the Philadelphia Convention Organized?
After independence, the colonists first form of
government, the Articles of Confederation,
proved inadequate.
Fifty-five men, the Framers, met to create the US
Constitution, during which they debated the most
basic ideas about political life and government
In this unit, you will learn
◦ Why the Articles of Confederation were replaced
◦ Why the Constitution was created as it was
◦ How the debates over ratification raised issues debated
to this day.
This lesson examines the government formed
by the Articles of Confederation.
This document reflects the political realities
and divisions among the states as well as the
need for unity.,
Many Americans felt the US government
under the Articles lacked sufficient authority
to meet the nation’s needs.
Describe the Articles of Confederation.
Explain why some thought the Articles were
too weak.
Evaluate, take, and defend positions on..
◦ The strengths and weaknesses of the Articles
◦ The significance of the Northwest Ordinance
◦ American’s mistrust of a strong national government
Articles of Confederation
Shays' Rebellion
◦ (1781-1789) The first constitution of the United States,
created to form a perpetual union and a firm league of
friendship among the thirteen original states. It was
adopted by the Second Continental Congress on November
15, 1777, and sent to the states for ratification.
◦ A form of political organization in which the sovereign
states combine for certain specified purposes, such as
mutual defense. Member states can leave a confederation at
any time. The United States was a confederation from 1776
to 1789.
◦ An armed revolt by Massachusetts farmers seeking relief
from debt and mortgage foreclosures. The rebellion fueled
support for amending the Articles of Confederation.
Americans realized that they would need
some centralized leadership to address the
following issues
◦ Manage relationships between states
◦ Resolve border disputes
◦ Conduct relations with rest of world
Along with Declaration of Independence,
Second Continental Congress creates the first
US government, the Articles of Confederation
Fear of a Strong Central Gov’t
◦ To many, their state was their country.
◦ British government’s “abuse” of power
could characterize a strong US
◦ Study of history suggested that
republican gov’t can only succeed in
small communities
◦ Articles considered a “firm league of
 Most powers of government were given
to states
 Ex) Congress could not collect taxes,
could not regulate trade
Fear that some states
would dominate central
The following issues
pitted states against each
◦ Representation and voting in
◦ Payment for war expenses
◦ Territorial claims in the West
Secured recognition of American
Created executive departments and
admiralty courts (developed into
Cabinet & Federal Court System)
Northwest Ordinance (1787)
◦ Created process for territory to become a
◦ Prohibited slavery in new territory
◦ Guaranteed equality of new states
No power to tax
◦ Caused problems paying off war debts
No power to force states to recognize agreements
with foreign nations
◦ Damaged trade relations
No power to make laws regulating trade among
No power to makes laws directly regulating
behavior of citizens
Amendments never passed since all 13 states
needed to ratify
 Many leaders proposed a meeting, or
convention, to discuss changes
 Delegates then met in
Philadelphia to propose
changes to the Articles
100’s of farmers in MA
gathered to prevent courts
from selling their property
◦ Many ex-soldiers were not paid
their wages, therefore falling into
debt and losing their farms
Shays and his men attempt to
capture weapons arsenal
Governor calls militia to put
down rebellion
Fears generated by this and
similar conflicts convinced
many that a stronger national
government was needed
This lesson describes the important people
and their first steps at the Constitutional
Convention in Philadelphia, 1787.
The structure and rules set forth for debate
played a major role by providing a framework
for civil discourse.
The Virginia Plan created the agenda for
subsequent discussion & debate.
Describe the organizing phase of the
Explain the significance of rules and agendas
for effective civil discussion.
Evaluate, take, and defend positions on
◦ determining what interests should be represented
in a constitutional convention
◦ the advantages and disadvantages of secrecy in
governmental deliberations
civil discourse
Constitutional Convention
federal system
national government
proportional representation
◦ Reasoned discussion as opposed to emotional display.
◦ The meeting held in Philadelphia from May to September 1787 at which
the US Constitution was written.
◦ (1) (noun) A person chosen to act for or represent others. (2) (verb) To
entrust someone to represent your interests.
◦ A form of government in which power is divided and shared between a
central government and state and local governments.
◦ The organization having central political authority in a nation; the
representative unit of political organization.
◦ In the context of American government, the electoral system in which
the number of representatives for a state is based on the number of
people living in the state. Proportional representation is used to
determine the number of each state's representatives in the U.S. House
of Representatives.
55 delegates from states (Framers)
Ave. age 42, ¾ had served in Congress
Most were prominent political leaders, very
◦ George Washington
 Most respected Military Leader in nation
◦ James Madison
 Had greatest influence on organization of national
◦ Benjamin Franklin
 81, poor heath, but internationally renown statesmen
◦ Alexander Hamilton
 Most prominent supporter of strong national gov’t
Thomas Jefferson
◦ In Paris as US minister to France
John Adams
◦ US ambassador to Great Britain
Patrick Henry
◦ Refused to attend, suspicious of
convention / “I smell a rat!”
◦ Opposed to stronger national
At least 7 states must be present each day
While speaking, others had to listen
Member could not speak more than 2x on
same question
Committees appointed as necessary
Any decision subject to change until entire
plan complete
Convention’s proceedings kept secret
Many delegates wanted to completely scrap
Articles, not just amend
Madison proposes new, stronger government
Two governments, national & state (Federal
Three braches of national government
◦ Legislative – make laws (most powerful)
◦ Executive – enforce laws
◦ Judicial – interpret laws
Legislature (congress) would have two branches
◦ House of Representatives – elected by the people
◦ Senate – Proposed by States, selected by the House
Representation from each state in both
houses based on population or amount
contributed to federal treasury.
◦ Proportional representation means that states with
a larger population have more representation
Congress would have power to make laws
that states were not able to make
◦ Ex) regulating trade between states
This lesson examines:
◦ The debate over what, or who, the national
government will represent.
◦ The Great Compromise, which dealt with the
makeup of the House and Senate.
◦ How population would be counted for
representation in the House.
◦ How new states might receive representation in
Explain the differences between the Virginia
Plan and the New Jersey Plan and the
importance of the Great Compromise.
Explain how the Framers addressed regional
issues with the 3/5ths compromise and the
provision for periodic census of the
Evaluate, take, and defend positions on why
major issues debated at the Convention are
still on the national agenda.
Great Compromise
Three-Fifths Compromise
◦ A plan accepted at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 that
called for a Congress of two houses: in the upper house, or
Senate, representation of the states would be equal, with each
state having two senators; in the lower house, or House of
Representatives, representation would be apportioned
according to the population of each state, so that states with
more people would have more representatives. Also called the
Connecticut Compromise.
◦ Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, later
eliminated by the Fourteenth Amendment. The clause
provided that each slave should be counted as three–fifths of
a person in determining the number of representatives a state
might send to the House of Representatives. It also
determined the amount of direct taxes Congress might levy
on a state.
No disagreement over two-house Congress
Proportional representation was the issue
Madison – states should not be represented
as states in national government. Instead,
representatives should serve the people.
Those who sought Equal representation
thought national government derived from
and represented the States, not the people.
Big states favored Proportional rep, small
states favored Equal rep.
Similar to Articles of Confederation
One house Congress, equal
Most delegates were convinced that a
unicameral Congress would not work,
and NJ Plan voted down.
However, many small state delegates
refused to accept Virginia Plan due to
their concerns over large states’ power
under proportional representation.
Disagreement over this issue almost
ended the convention.
Great/Connecticut Compromise’s provisions
◦ House of Representatives= Proportional Rep.
◦ Senate = Equal Rep. (2 per state – chosen by state
Senate appeased small states, House
appeased big states
 The compromise passed
by 1 vote
What did proportional representation mean?
Southern states want slaves to count towards
Northern states thought counting them would only
benefit, and empower, slave owners
◦ If they are considered property, why should property be
The Compromise
◦ state’s population, in regards to
apportioning representation, would
be equal to free population plus
3/5ths slaves
◦ Slaves also counted as 3/5ths when
computing taxes paid by each state
to federal government
New states would have full
representation in congress
A census would be taken
every 10 years to
reapportion seats in the
House based on the shift in
America’s population.
Political philosophers claim that governments
must do three things: make, execute, and
judge laws.
The Constitution assigns these functions to
three separate branches. This lesson
explains how the Framers envisioned the role
of each.
Explain the role of each of the three branches
and describe how the Constitution organizes
Explain how and why the system of checks
and balances contributes to limited
Evaluate, take, and defend positions on how
the President should be elected and issues
relating to the appointment of Supreme Court
Deliberative Body
Electoral College
Necessary and Proper Clause
Separated Powers
Shared Powers
◦ A legislative assembly that meets to debate issues.
◦ The group of presidential electors who cast the official votes for president
and vice president after a presidential election. Each state has a number of
electors equal to the total of its members in the Senate and House of
◦ Clause of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to make all laws
that are "necessary and proper" to carry out the powers specifically
delegated to it by the Constitution. It is also known as the "elastic clause"
because of the vagueness of the phrase "necessary and proper."
◦ The division of the powers of government among the different branches.
Separating powers is a primary strategy of promoting constitutional or
limited government by ensuring that no one individual or branch has
excessive power that can be abused.
◦ Legislative powers not completely separated between the branches of
Framers believed their was an
imbalance of power between
British Crown and Parliament
◦ Led to tyranny of British Crown
Many state government
created weak executives, but
led to legislative corruption
Delegates needed to create
system of balanced powers
(checks & balances)
Congress should be a deliberative body
◦ Thorough debate, no hasty decisions
Bicameral legislature makes law passage
(on purpose)
◦ Delegates felt power to make laws greatest power
Enumerated Powers are specifically listed
Congress also granted powers Necessary &
Executive needed “energy” to act
quickly when necessary for
◦ Common defense
◦ Preserve public peace
◦ International relations
Must be strong enough to
check power of legislature,
but can not endanger republic
 A single chief executive needed, 4-yr
 No limit set for reelection
Delegates reject idea of direct election
◦ Citizens of large country would “not know” best
Other felt Indirect elections would be corrupt
Instead, Electoral College proposed
◦ Organized every 4 years, then dissolved
◦ Each state selects electors, number based on total
members in Congress
◦ Electors voted for two people (at least one outside home
◦ Majority wins presidency, 2nd becomes VP
◦ If tie, House selects with majority vote
Judges chosen by President, confirmed by
Supreme Court is head of judiciary
Judges independent of politics
Cannot be removed unless accused & convicted
of high crimes
Judicial Review
◦ President can veto bill passed in Congress
◦ Congress can override veto with 2/3 vote
◦ President nominates, Senate must approve
◦ President negotiates, Senate approves (2/3 vote)
◦ President is commander in chief, Congress declares war &
controls $$$
◦ Congress can remove executive or judicial branch members if
they commit high crimes
◦ Judicial branch (eventually) can determine whether acts of
Congress are Constitutional
The relationship between national and state
powers was at the core of the first
Convention debates.
The delegates eventually worked out a series
of regulations & compromises that defined
what national and state government could
and could not do.
Several compromises involved slavery, the
most divisive issue among states.
Describe the major powers and limits on the
national government, powers specifically left
to states, and prohibitions the Constitution
placed on states.
Explain how the Constitution did and did not
address slavery and other unresolved issues.
Evaluate, take, and defend positions on how
limited government in the US protects
individual rights and promotes the common
good and on issues involving slavery.
ex post facto law
bill of attainder
supremacy clause
◦ A law that criminalizes an act that was not a crime when
committed, that increases the penalty for a crime after it was
committed, or that changes the rules of evidence to make
conviction easier. Ex post facto laws are forbidden by Article I of
the Constitution.
◦ An act of the legislature that inflicts punishment on an individual
or group without a judicial trial.
◦ Formal withdrawal by a constituent member from an alliance,
federation, or association.
◦ Article VI, Section 2 of the Constitution, which states that the U.S.
Constitution, laws passed by Congress, and treaties of the United
States "shall be the supreme Law of the Land" and binding on the
◦ A tax on imported or exported goods. Also known as a duty.
Powers given to national gov’t over
Make or change state election laws
Call state militias into national service
Create new states
Guarantee each state a “republican for of
◦ Protect states from invasion or domestic
◦ Constitution & laws / treaties made by
Congress are supreme law of the land
(Supremacy Clause)
These provisions protected individual rights
suspend habeas corpus
pass ex post facto laws or bills of attainder
suspend trial by jury in criminal cases
modify definition of treason
The following protect rights of public officials
◦ Members of Congress cannot be arrested during session
unless a major crime
◦ No religious tests for public office
◦ Impeachment clauses protect right to a fair trial
◦ Gov’t cannot take money from treasury without an
appropriation law
States cannot
◦ Coin their own money
◦ Pass laws that enable people to violate
◦ Make ex post facto laws or bills of
◦ Enter into foreign treaties or declare war
◦ Tax imports or exports
◦ Keep troops or ships of war in peace time
◦ No discrimination against citizens of other
◦ Must return fugitives from other states
Many delegates were opposed to slavery, kept
terms out of Constitution (but protected
Southern states considered slaves property, and
property issues should be state matters
NC, SC, and GA would create
own nation if Constitution
interfered w/ slavery
Northern delegates agree to
put in “fugitive slave clause”
and not to interfere with
slave trade until 1808.
Voting Rights
Where national power
ends / state power begins
◦ “Necessary & Proper Clause”
State’s right to secede
from the US
The signed Constitution would only become
official if ratified by 9 of 13 states. This
lesson explains the ratification process and
public debate between the Federalists
(supported) and Anti-Federalists (opposed).
Explain why the Anti-Federalists opposed
ratifying the Constitution.
Explain the role of Anti-Federalists in
proposing a bill of rights.
Identify other contributions their views have
made toward interpreting the Constitution.
Evaluate, take and defend a position on the
validity and relevance of Anti-Federalist
Bill of Rights
◦ Opponents to ratification of the U.S. Constitution who believed that
it gave excessive power to the federal government and failed to
protect the rights and liberties of the people.
◦ The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights
lists many basic rights that the federal government may not
interfere with and must protect. Nearly all these rights are now also
protected from violation by state governments.
◦ (1) Formal approval of some formal legal instrument such as a
constitution or treaty. (2) In U.S. constitutional history, the approval
of the U.S. Constitution in 1788 by the ratifying conventions held in
each state, except for Rhode Island, which initially voted the
Constitution down by popular referendum.
Ratifying conventions set up in
each state
◦ Sole purpose was to debate and
approve/reject the Constitution
◦ Delegates elected by popular vote
9 States needed to ratify
Constitution for it to go into
Example of Social Contract
As soon as delegates released the proposal,
opposition emerged.
Anti-Federalists published objections in
newspapers and pamphlets (George Mason,
Elbridge Gerry)
Oppositions believed in reasoned discourse to
educate citizens
◦ They drew on political philosophy ad history to make
Americans read and discussed the arguments in
their homes, coffeehouses, taverns and public
meetings across the nation.
Representative gov’t could only
work in small communities of
people with similar beliefs
In large nations, gov’t no longer
reflects wishes of most citizens,
resorting to force to maintain
National gov’t will reduce power /
role of local gov’t
Small, agrarian communities are
more likely to have civic virtue
than large, diverse nations
Strong national gov’ts needed in large nations
have always destroyed republics
Each branch had potential for tyranny
◦ No adequate limit on Congress’ necessary & proper
◦ President has unlimited power to grant pardons
◦ National courts could destroy state judicial
◦ Gov’t is not truly representative. House of Reps has
only 65 members out of 3 million citizens.
National gov’t did not protect
National gov’ts power is so general
and vague that it is essentially
Nothing keeps gov’t from violating
all rights it does not explicitly
State’s bill of rights does not
protect against national
Bill of Rights would remind people
of the principles of our political
Those who supported ratification, which
created a stronger government, called
themselves Federalists.
This lesson describes the arguments and
strategies Federalists used to win support for
the Constitution.
Explain the key arguments of the Federalists
and the process by which the Constitution
was finally ratified.
Evaluate, take, and defend positions on the
continuing relevance and validity of the
Federalists’ argument.
"new science of politics"
majority tyranny
The Federalist
◦ James Madison's term in The Federalist for a study of politics utilizing reason,
observation, and history that would help the Founders construct a new
government on a rational and informed basis.
◦ (1) A small group within a larger group. (2) In its political sense, according to
James Madison in Federalist 10, a faction is a "number of citizens, whether
amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are some
common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens
or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community."
◦ Advocates for a strong central government who urged ratification of the U.S.
Constitution. They flourished as a political party in the 1790s under the leadership
of Alexander Hamilton. The party disappeared from national politics in 1816.
◦ A situation in which a majority uses the principle of majority rule but fails to
respect the rights and interests of the minority. See also majority rule
◦ A series of articles written for newspapers urging the adoption of the Constitution
and supporting the need for a strong national government.
Federalists acted quickly so that
Ant-Federalists would not have a
chance to organize opposition.
Over ten months of debate,
Hamilton, Madison, and Jay
published Federalist Papers to
convince people to support
They presented Constitution as a
well-organized, agreed-upon plan
that reflected a “new science of
Most Americans agreed that large republics
were unsuccessful
Madison creates new theory that factions are
greatest danger
◦ Factions promote own self-interest at expense of
common good
◦ Majority tyranny could be combated w/ a republic
◦ Large republic’s would reduce large factions
◦ Representatives “refine” public views by filtering out
ideas based solely on self-interest.
◦ Large republics would defeat dangers of faction.
Civic virtue alone will not protect people’s rights
and promote their welfare.
◦ With many interests and factions in a large republic,
none would dominate
Constitution’s organization (Checks & Balances)
promote goals of republicanism
◦ Electoral system would ensure
qualified representatives
◦ Complicated system would
prevent factions from serving
own interests at expense of
common good
◦ Difficulty to pass laws was a
good thing
Representation of different
interests in the government
will protect basic rights
◦ In Legislative Branch, House
represents local interests,
Senate represents state’s
◦ In Executive, President
safeguards nation’s interests
◦ In Judicial, Supreme Court
ensures good judgments since
they are independence of
politics, responsible only to
By June 1788, 9 states voted to
However, no NY or VA (needed,
wealthy & populous)
Federalists agreed to add a Bill
of Rights during first Congress,
depriving Anti-Fed’s of their
most powerful argument.
NC and RI eventually forced to
ratify by 1790 or else be
treated as foreign nations.