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The Constitution and The New Republic


In September 1787, Ben Franklin and 55 other other delegates signed the U.S Constitution;
however this outcome did not come easily. The country was in a troubled state and they wondered
would the new document be strong enough to hold the 13 stated together in a union that could
prosper and endure.

The U.s Under The Articles of Confederation 1781-1787

Original document outlining the U.S government. It consisted of a one house Congress, no
separate executive branch, and no judiciary system (courts), and it did not address some major
problems facing the country after the war.


Foreign problems-U.S failed to adhere to Treaty of Paris provisions such as restoring Loyalist
property and repaying foreign debt. Also, it could do nothing about Britain maintaining military
outposts on the western frontier.

Economic problems-U.S had limited credit and little foreign trade, could not levy taxes and money
was worthless, and the 13 states were suspicious of each other (boundary disputes, interstate
rivalry and tension).

In order to deal with these problems, a convention was held in Maryland:

Annapolis Convention- conference of state delegates at Annapolis, Maryland, that issued a call in
September 1786 for a convention to meet at Philadelphia in May 1787 to consider fundamental changes to
the Articles of Confederation.

The Annapolis Convention was unsuccessful, so another convention was held in Philadelphia, “for
the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.”

The Constitutional Convention – the convention of United States statesmen who drafted the
United States Constitution in 1787.

The Delegates- (the who and background) A representative, in this case, to the meeting in
Philadelphia in 1787, to find ways to improve the national government.
The issues and Compromises


The Virginia Plan- proposed a strong national government that could make and enforce laws,
and collect taxes.

The New Jersey Plan- a Proposal that each state to have a vote in congress.


Three-fifths Compromise- (1787) was a compromise of the Virginia and New Jersey plans (regarding
the government that would be created by the United States Constitution) in which each slave counted as
three-fifths of a person regarding the apportionment of the members of the United States House of
Representatives (through a census).

Slaves could not be imported for at least 20 years longer (until 1808) at which time Congress
could vote to abolish the practice


Commercial Compromise-

Executive office

• President would have considerable power, such as to Veto acts of Congress

• Terms of office would be limited to 4 years, but no limit to number of terms to be reelected
• Electoral college systems would elect president (delegates feared mob rule)

The Constitution was ratified on September 17, 1787 after 17 weeks of debate (by the way during
a hot summer). It only had to be approved by 9 of the 13 states. It was debated for almost a year,
and opinion was split between two sides:

Federalists- Supporters of the Constitution who favored a strong central government.

Anti-Federalists- People who opposed the new constitution because they felt a strong central
government defeated the purpose of the war against Great Britain. They believed the Constitution would
not protect the power of the states or the freedom of the people.
The Federalists Papers- A collection of 85 essays by Alexander Hamilton James Madison and John
Jay that explain the philosophy and defend the advantages of the U.S. Constitution.

The Federalists won out, promised Anti-Federalists to add a Bill of Rights to the Constitution. There
was a fear of a tyrannical gov’t., and a Bill of Rights would secure individual rights.

Summary of the Bill of Rights (1st Ten Amendments)- Bill of Rights are the constitutional
amendments made to US constitution that deal and legitimate the issue connected to the human rights
including issues such as freedom of religion, speech, press, right to peaceably assemble and petition the
government etc. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, prohibiting unreasonable searches and
seizures or issuing warrants, regulations on death penalty , prohibiting trial more than once for the same
offense, compensation for property acquisition , impartial local jury, information about accusation, etc are
the important rights included in this bill.

The Federalists (leaders, characteristics &views)-

Democratic-Republicans (leaders, characteristics &views)-

Washington Farewell Address

Washington chose to serve two terms only. He wrote his Farewell address for publication in a
newspaper in 1796. Washington warned against getting involved in foreign affairs and forming
foreign alliances, political parties, and to avoid sectionalism.

Sectionalism- Promoting the good of one region over that of others

John Adams Presidency

Adams (a Federalist), Washington’s vice-president, was elected president over Thomas Jefferson
by 3 electoral votes. Jefferson then became vice-president. The Constitution originally stated that
the candidate who received the second amount of electoral votes would become vice-president
(this changes with the Twelfth Amendment).

The XYZ Affair- was a 1797 diplomatic episode that worsened relations between France and the United
States and led to the undeclared Quasi-War of 1798.

The Alien and Sedition Acts- four security laws signed by President John Adams and passed by the
U.S. Federalist Congress in 1798 during the Quasi-War with France of 1798-1800

The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions- were passed in 1798 written by Thomas Jefferson and
James Madison. These resolutions favored states rights, and were in opposition to the Alien and Sedition
Acts. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were written in order to preserve the rights of the First
Amendment, which had been taken away in the Sedition Act.

The election of 1800

Federalists loose popularity from the Alien and Sedition Acts and high taxes. Two Democratic-
Republicans receive the same amount of electoral votes for President, Jefferson and Aaron Burr.
According to the Constitution, another election must take place in the House of Representatives.
Jefferson wins the presidency.

Republicans take over the presidency and control of the House and Senate. The passing on of
power from one political party to another went over peacefully and was accomplished without
violence. It also demonstrated that the U.S. Constitution system could endure strains placed upon
it. This peaceful and successful change had become known as the Revolution of 1800.

“Necessary and Proper Clause”- section of the United States Constitution that enables Congress
to make the laws required for the exercise of its other powers established by the Constitution.

Foreign Affairs

The French Revolution- political revolution in France which lasted from 1789-1799 and resulted in the
overthrow of the French monarchy.

Proclamation of neutrality (1793)- was a formal announcement issued by United States President
George Washington on April 22, 1793, declaring the nation neutral in the conflict between Great Britain
and France that had begun with the French Revolution. It threatened legal proceedings against any
American providing assistance to warring countries. The Proclamation led to the Neutrality Act of 1794.

Edmond Genet- was the first American flier to die in the First World War after the United States
declared war against Germany, shot down by anti-aircraft artillery on April 17th, 1917.

The Jay Treaty (1794) - a treaty between the United States and Great Britain to regulate commerce
and navigation. It corrected problems arising from violations of the Treaty of Paris of 1793.

The Pinckney Treaty (1795)- was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on October 27, 1795 and
established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain.

Domestic Concerns

The Whiskey Rebellion (1794) - the refusal of U.S. grain farmers and whiskey distillers to pay a new
excise tax on spirits in 1794, and the subsequent government quashing of this rebellion, regarded as the
first real test of the federal government's power to enforce laws. The conflict was largely confined to
western Pennsylvania, where much whiskey was produced

The U.S. government gained control of vast tracts of western lands:

Public Land Act (1796) - authorized Federal land sales to the public in minimum 640-acre plots at $2
per acre of credit.

Political Parties

The Constitution itself does not mention political parties and Washington did not believe in them,
nevertheless, debates, between the Federalist and Anti-Federalists were the first indicators that a
two party system would emerge as a permanent part of American politics.

Washington’s Presidency

George Washington was the Electoral College’s unanimous choice for president. He took oath as
president on April 30, 1789 in New York City, which was the original national capital. From this
point, the U.S. system of checks and balances would be in practice among Congress, the Supreme
Court and the president.

First Executive Departments and their members

Secretary of State- the head of the government department in charge of foreign affairs

Secretary of Treasury- the person who holds the secretaryship of the Treasury Department; "Alexander
Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury”.

Secretary of War- head of a former executive department; combined with the Navy Secretary to form
the Defense Secretary in 1947.

Attorney General- the position of the head of the Justice Department and the chief law enforcement
officer of the United States; "the post of Attorney General was created in 1789".

Organization of the Federal Court System

Judiciary Act of 1789- 1789 law that created the Judicial Branch of the federal government

Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton as secretary of treasury came up with a plan to meet the new gov’t finical woes.

His plan had three parts:

1. Ay off the national debts at face and have the federal gov’t assume starts war debts.
2. Protect the nation’s new industries and collect needed revenues at the same time by
imposing high tariffs on imported goods.
3. Create a national bank for funds and to print stable U.S currency.

Thomas Jefferson is at odds with Hamilton and his plan feeling that it benefits the rich over the
everyday man or farmer. Jefferson eventually supports the plan contingent on the nation’s
capital being established in Washington, D.C. rather than New York City.

Whiskey Tax- to help finance the revolution, the Continental Congress put a tax on whiskey