The Birth of a Nation
Settling the new world
•Religious separatist – seeking religious freedoms
•New land, new beginnings
•No intention of changing the world, but they did.
– Roanoke Island, NC – Failed Colony
– Jamestown, VA - Almost failed, but brought w/ them the idea of a
–Plymouth, MA – Mayflower Compact – Social contract that bound the
colony to obey the authority of whatever government was established on
land. Set precedent that governing authority requires consent of the
By 1732, 13 Colonies were established and developed:
• Limited government and local rule – Minimal involvement
• Autonomy – self governance
• Popular Elected Legislature
• Passed laws, levied taxes, set policies – formal governing
document resembling constitution. (CT: Fundamental
Orders (Idea of three branches of government); PA:
Frame of Gov’t: MA: Body of Liberties)
• British crown comfortable with idea of flourishing
commerce and Home Rule (self-governing).
Prelude to a Revolution
Cost of Colonies getting expensive: 1688 – 1763 – 85 years of
costly wars with France, left the British Crown almost
Replenish treasury through taxation: Sugar Act, Townshend Act,
and Stamp Act – “No Taxation without Representation.”
1. Boycott British goods – No cash flow. Brit crown forced to
repeal Stamp Act.
Colonies acted in unison to stop British will.
2. Boston Tea Party - Forced Great Britain to put their foot down –
Coercive Acts. Completely shut down the colony in Boston,
Struggle for Independence
Colonists’ response to Coercive Acts: Have a Meeting!
Ø First Continental Congress (9/4/1774) – Philly, PA
ü Not about Independence and Revolution
ü More about the adoption of Rights and Grievances:
üTaxes imposed w/o rep were unconstitutional.
üReassert their right to home rule/colonial autonomy.
üBoycott goods and raise an army.
Ø Second Continental Congress (1775)
ØGeo. Washington appointed CIC of Continental Army.
ØNo official War, yet.
Ø Colonial division – Revolution or Loyalty
Ø Thomas Paine – Common Sense (1776) – pamphlet that
articulated the revolutionary cause (independence), suggestion to
stop recognizing the British Crown, and form a constitution.
Declaration of Independence
Written by Thomas Jefferson – commissioned, revised and adopted by
the 2nd Continental Congress
• New governing principal – We hold these truths to
be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
§ Unalienable: incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and
ü You can not surrender, sell or transfer unalienable rights, they are a
gift from the creator to the individual and can not under any
circumstances be surrendered or taken. All individual's have
Declaration of Independence
§ Inalienable rights: Rights which are not capable of being
surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing
§ You can surrender, sell or transfer inalienable rights if you consent
either actually or constructively. Inalienable rights are not inherent
in man and can be alienated by government. Persons have
inalienable rights. Most state constitutions recognize only
• Governments derive their power from the consent of
• Set forth a specific list of grievances against King George II
• Declaration of War
Articles of Confederation
• Declaring Independence was one thing; creating a new
government was quite another.
Ø Sixteen months to complete the Articles of confederation July 1776
to November 1777.
Ø It took the former colonies longer to ratify (approve); South
Carolina was the first in Feb. 1778; Maryland was the last in March
Ø Wary of a strong central government – British oppression.
Ø Most preferred a loose confederation of states, with the national
government subordinate to them. Establish a form of local gov’t.
Ø Organizing Principle: Unicameral (single-body) legislature w/
limited authority: Each state had one vote in this congress, no
executive or judicial branch, and major legislative or amendments
to the A of C required an unanimous vote. Gave each state the
power to veto (reject legislation).
A Flawed Document
• The Articles of Confederation: Where it failed.
ü Lacked the power of to perform basic tasks
• Regulating commerce, est. national currency, taxiing people
directly, enforcing treaties, raising money, or compelling states
to ante up some money.
• There was an economic mess, and had trouble keeping the peace
• The national government existed at the mercy of the states =
Recipe for disaster.
• Achievements: Articles served as transition government between
war and Republic during “cooling off period” – revolutionary zeal to
• Learned from shortcomings , and used lessons leaned to create the
– Milestone in Western Democracies – Citizens used reason and
logic to create a new form of government. Radically different from
anything that previously existed.
• A bold dramatic first step that did not succeed, but proved that a
government of consent could be achieved through peaceful means,
• Gave our country its name: The United States of America.
• Drafting the Constitution:
Ø Young Nation still in doubt:
ü Economy in shambles
ü Civil unrest
ü States arguing with each other
ü No national defense
Virginia Plan – Virginians James Madison and Edmund Randolph
submitted a constitutional proposal.
– Bicameral (Two- camber) legislature, with a lower house chosen by
the people and an upper house chosen by the lower house.
– National executive and judiciary branch, selected by the
– Attempted to create a strong central government.
– Supported by the large states.
5. Smaller states saw plan to make the larger states dominant in the
ü State representatives based on state population.
6. Fear of a strong central gov’t that would snuff out states’ rights and
restrict individual liberty.
New Jersey Plan
New Jersey Plan - William Patterson of New Jersey
1. Modification of the Articles of Confederation
2. Called for unicameral legislature with equal representation for each state
regardless of population
3. A weak two-person executive branch
4. Single judiciary body
5. Small states delegates and weak-gov’t proponents supported NJ Plan.
Big-State members opposed.
The Great Compromise - Roger Sherman of CT Proposed the Connecticut Plan.
A patchwork of both proposals that adopted:
Ø Bicameral legislature (VA Plan) with a population based lower chamber,
and a independent upper-chamber with equal representation (NJ Plan).
Ø Selecting a Chief Executive –Chosen by the people or not? Was the
population educated enough to chose?
ü Created an Electoral College – separate body of “electors”, chosen by
state legislators to ultimately vote for the president.
Process of Ratification
On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was signed by remaining convention
delegates. Would it be ratified?
§ Document granted too much power to the federal government
§ Would lead to aristocratic tyranny.
§ 9 out of 13 states would have to approve through a special elective convention
§ Without this provision, The constitution would not have been ratified at all.
§ Federalists and Anti-Federalists: Opinions regarding the Constitution:
Federalist and the Anti-Federalists
Federalists: Strong Central Government
• Shared power with states, supported the Constitution
• James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote The
Federalists Papers. Federalist No. 10 and Federalist no. 51 by James
Madison, were the most persuasive in the support of the Constitution.
Anti-Federalists: Preferred direct democracy and local rule.
• Patrick Henry, John Hancock, George Mason, James Monroe, Sam Adams.
• Thomas Jefferson – Constitution did not include a Bill of Rights.
Constitution ratified on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire
adopted the Constitution.
Order of Ratification: (Listed on Page 12 of your text)
1. Delaware (12/07/1787) 10. Virginia (06/25/1788)
2. Pennsylvania (12/12/1787) 11. New York (7/26/1788)
3. New Jersey (12/18/1787) 12. N. Carolina (11/21/1789)
4. Georgia (01/02/1788) 13. Rhode Island (5/29/1790)
5. Connecticut (1/9/1788)
6. Massachusetts (02/06/1788)
7. Maryland (04/28/1788)
8. South Carolina (05/23/1788)
9. New Hampshire (6/21/1788)