The New American
What political faction dominated the framing of the
United States Constitution? Was there any departure
from the Articles of Confederation or were the
Articles and the Constitution similar documents?
Finally, examine the transcendence from political
factions to political parties.
Federalists: Strong national government, Congress should be free from its dependence on the
states. Dependence was central governments fatal weakness.
James Madison: “voluntary compliance of the states will never fail to render federal measures
Government positions filled by men of property, education, wealth, and reputation. Expansive
commerce and westward settlement were important guarantees of a secure “republican empire.”
Effective central government would have to have, at minimum, an independent source of
revenues, authority to regulate the country’s trade, form a strong standing army, and power to
compel obedience to its legitimate commands, accompanied by careful checks against the
possibility of abuse.
Diversity: Government made up of competing interests or “factionalism.”
Governments position within society should be a “disinterested & dispassionate umpire in disputes.”
Party members: Wealthy, veterans, diplomats, Continental Congress, bankers, merchants, agrarian
capitalists, and manufacturers.
Government’s primary responsibility is to protect property rights, which is essential for
commercial development, through the creation of a national market, public credit, national
currency, and the protection of contracts.
Anti-federalists: Held that a republican system required similarity of religion, manners,
sentiments, and interests. They were convinced that no such sense of community could exist in an
enlarged republic, that no one set of laws could work within such diversity.
For instance, what is right for citizens in South Carolina, would not be right for residents in
Argued that an overly centralized federal authority would strip state governments of their
Warned against the elite or the “monied interests” controlling government. Governments should
reflect their citizenry, and rulers should be responsive to public needs.
Every portion of free society should have representation within government.
Government expected to promote morality, virtue, and religion.
Samuel Adams: Republican government required “a positive passion for the public good, the
public interest… superior to all private passions.”
Abhorred the idea of a standing army, preferred existing militia system.
Elbridge Gerry, delegate from Massachusetts, “A standing army is like an erect penis… an
excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure.”
May 25-September 17, 1787.
55 delegates participated, representing every state
except Rhode Island.
(34) Lawyers, (7) merchants, (27) farmers, (30) public
creditors, and (10) public servants, nearly all were
conservative men of means.
James Madison, George Washington, Gouverneur
Morris, George Mason, and James Wilson.
Central Issues of Debate: Representation, Federal
Power, Separation of Power, Strong Executive, written
Bill of Rights, and Bicameral Legislature.
Virginia Plan: Introduced by Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia.
Bicameral legislature with representation in both houses apportioned according
The legislature would choose the national executive and national judiciary,
and it would have all the powers currently held by congress plus the power to
settle disputes between state governments.
Congress would have the authority to veto state laws that contradicted the
laws of congress but it would not be able to tax citizens or regulate interstate
and international trade.
New Jersey Plan: Introduced by William Patterson of New Jersey.
Plan enabled Congress to tax domestic trade and goods, tax imports, regulate
commerce, and demand state requisitions of money and goods.
Most important, each state would have one vote in a unicameral Congress,
which would guard against excessive influence of very populous states, in
particular Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
Deadlock for 7 weeks.
July 12, 1787.
Proposed by Rodger Sherman of Connecticut on July 12, 1787.
Proposed equal state representation in the upper house (Senate) and
proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives).
Term limits: 2 years for lower house, 6 years for upper house, and 4 years for
An electoral college comprised of all representatives and senators would
choose the executive.
Congress had power to levy and collect taxes, settle disputes among states,
negotiate with foreign governments, and set the standards for citizenship.
Congress would only have veto power over state law if it went against the
“Supreme law of the land.” Congress was also responsible for regulating
inter-state commerce and frontier diplomacy.
Slavery issue: Article 4, Section 2: Proclaimed that runaway slaves must be
returned to their owners.
3/5 compromise: representation in the lower house of congress would be
determined by each state’s free population, plus 3/5 of all other persons.
Separation of Power
Legislature counterbalanced by a forceful, separate executive, and a judiciary
separate from both.
James Madison: “Genuinely independent, fully countervailing branches.”
Lower House exclusive authority over money bills.
President chosen by an electoral college: Election by electors chosen by the
people. Heart of the new American state.
Supreme Court: Appointed positions: for life, “apolitical.”
Thomas Jefferson: “Independent tribunals of justice will consider themselves
in a peculiar manner the guardians of those rights; they will be an
impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or
executive; they will be naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights
expressly stipulated for in the constitution.”
Bill of Rights: Ratified 1791.
First 10 amendments to the Constitution protected individual
rights and popular sovereignty, passes in June 1789.
Freedom of Speech, Religion, Press, Assembly, right to bear
arms, quartering, unreasonable search and seizures, double
jeopardy, right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury,
cruel and unusual punishment, and government lies within the
According to Anti-federalist’s a bill of rights would restrict
national power and guard against abuses of power.
Bill defined the powers of Congress
Architect James Madison.
Federalist compromise to Anti-federalist concerns.
Passed September 17, 1787.
Constitution is a grant of power to a centralized
Convention agreed to substitute a complex and
authoritative central government for the present,
feeble, unicameral legislature, provided by the
Articles of Confederation.
Congress ability to tax, provided for separation
of power, and regulate interstate commerce
The other Compromise of 1787
Northwest Ordinance & the U.S. Constitution: Centered around the issue of slavery.
James Madison: “the institution of slavery and its consequences formed the line of
discrimination” between the contending groups of states at the Convention.
Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (Architect Thomas Jefferson, 1785): Established principles for
orderly occupation of newly conquered western territory.
Divided into 3 to 5 territories: Future states in territory, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and
Slavery was banned in all of Northwest Territories.
Why did southern majority of the Continental Congress unanimously vote for the Northwest
Ordinance, despite its antislavery clause?
Ordinance only applied to territory North of the Ohio River, any region south of the Ohio, was
open to slavery, including present day Tennessee and Kentucky.
The Northwest Ordinance legislated against slavery in that part of the West where it did not exist
and left it alone in the Southwest were it already was.
Connection: Fugitive Slave Clause: Exposes one of the fundamental compromises of the
Both the Ordinance and Constitution were ready to compromise the concept that all men are
The First Federal Congress: 1st Federal Congressional election was in
November 1788, the elected took their seats for the first time in late spring 1789 (91
total: 8 were Anti-federalist’s.
Executive Office: President George Washington.
Cabinet: Thomas Jefferson: Secretary of State, Alexander Hamilton: Treasurer, Henry
Knox: Secretary of War, and Edmund Randolph: Head of the Justice Department or
Judiciary Act of 1789: established a six justice Supreme Court, 13 District Courts, and
3 Circuit Courts that would hear cases appealed from the States. (1st Act passed by
Hamilton’s Plan: How best to pay war debt?
Tariff Act of 1789: Taxed tonnage of foreign ships coming into American ports and
all imported goods, but at low enough levels to encourage merchants to expand
Over the next 30 years this Act provided 90% of the Federal Governments income.
Consolidated Federal, State, and Foreign debt into one payment at 4% interest in 1790.
($67 million total).
Debts needed to be paid quickly and in full in order to establish the political reputation
of the United States.
Bank of the United States: Created in 1791 in Philadelphia, Pa.
This bank had a 20 year charter.
Provided merchants with badly needed credit (Public Credit).
Established 8 branches nation-wide and further inspired
individual states to create their own banks.
Hamilton believed that high import taxes and federal bounties
for experiments in production would stimulate growth. (Report
Southerners slammed this report calling it a plan in favor of cities
and the “money interest”. Plan failed to pass congress in 1791.
Factions to Party’s
Hamiltonians (Federalist’s) vs. Democratic-Republicans (James Madison and Thomas
Deep division on creation of national bank, where the U.S. Capitol would be. Agrarian
republicans vs. moneyed interests of cities.
Republicans feared that the Hamiltonians were going to institute a monarchy (Natural
vs. Artificial Aristocracy).
Federalist’s usually represented the wealthy and deeply religious segment of society
(Commercial farmers, merchants, and manufacturers.)
Republicans represented the middle and lower classes and true believers in small govt.
(Frontiersmen, small farmers, Artisans, Southern export planters).
Republicans: Pursued moral improvement through agrarian culture not urban life.
Favored westward expansion and saw English city dwellers as wage laborers in
factories and addicted to luxury consumption.
French Revolution of 1789: Republicans saw it as a good thing, Federalist’s were
outraged at the mass executions of the elite in French society.
1800 saw a peaceful transfer of power.