The Constitution What ideas and debates led to the Constitution of the United States? Introduction The colonist declared their independence from Britain in 1776 Won their independence with victory in the American Revolution. Their next task was organizing a new government. Confederation of States The colonies became states in 1776 and each created a state constitution. Constitutions varies but they all created republics, or governments in which officials or representatives were elected by the people. Only white male property owners could vote. Most state constitutions included a Bill of Rights. The Articles of Confederation 1781, the 13 states adopted their first federal constitution. Most power remained with the states. A.O.C. gave federal government limited powers (declare and conduct war, regulate trade with foreign countries and Indian nations. Under A.O.C. states taxed goods imported. Federal government could not levy taxes. For money depended on contributions from the states. Amending the Articles was almost impossible, 13 states had to approve changes. Un-truth written in the book (there was no president) A.O.C. STRENGTHS: 1 To declare war and make peace. 2 To coin and borrow money 3 To detail with foreign countries and sign treaties 4 To operate post offices WEAKNESSES: 1 The national government could not force the states to obey its laws. 2 It did not have the power to tax 3 It did not have the power to enforce laws 4 Congress lacked strong and steady leadership 5 There was no national army or navy 6 There was no system of national courts 7 Each state could issue its own paper money 8 Each state could put tariffs on trade between states. (A tariff is a tax on goods coming in from another state or country.) John Hanson A "Black" Man, A Moor, John Hanson Was the First President of the United States! 1781-1782 A.D. George Washington was really the 8th President of the United States! George Washington was not the first President of the United States. In fact, the first President of the United States was one John Hanson. Don't go checking the encyclopedia for this guy's name - he is one of those great men that are lost to history. If you're extremely lucky, you may actually find a brief mention of his name. The new country was actually formed on March 1, 1781 with the adoption of The Articles of Confederation. This document was actually proposed on June 11, 1776, but not agreed upon by Congress until November 15, 1777. Maryland refused to sign this document until Virginia and New York ceded their western lands (Maryland was afraid that these states would gain too much power in the new government from such large amounts of land). Once the signing took place in 1781, a President was needed to run the country. John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included George Washington). In fact, all the other potential candidates refused to run against him, as he was a major player in the revolution and an extremely influential member of Congress. As the first President, Hanson had quite the shoes to fill. No one had ever been President and the role was poorly defined. His actions in office would set precedent for all future Presidents. He took office just as the Revolutionary War ended. Almost immediately, the troops demanded to be paid. As would be expected after any long war, there were no funds to meet the salaries. As a result, the soldiers threatened to overthrow the new government and put Washington on the throne as a monarch. All the members of Congress ran for their lives, leaving Hanson as the only guy left running the government. He somehow managed to calm the troops down and hold the country together. If he had failed, the government would have fallen almost immediately and everyone would have been bowing to King Washington. In fact, Hanson sent 800 pounds of sterling silver by his brother Samuel Hanson to George Washington to provide the troops with shoes. Hanson, as President, ordered all foreign troops off American soil, as well as the removal of all foreign flags. This was quite the feat, considering the fact that so many European countries had a stake in the United States since the days following Columbus. Hanson established the Great Seal of the United States, which all Presidents have since been required to use on all official documents. President Hanson also established the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department. Lastly, he declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day, which is still true today. The Articles of Confederation only allowed a President to serve a one year term during any three year period, so Hanson actually accomplished quite a bit in such little time. Six other presidents were elected after him - Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788) - all prior to Washington taking office. So what happened? Why don't we ever hear about the first seven Presidents of the United States? It's quite simple - The Articles of Confederation didn't work well. The individual states had too much power and nothing could be agreed upon. A new doctrine needed to be written - something we know as the Constitution. And that leads us to the end of our story. George Washington was definitely not the first President of the United States. He was the first President of the United States under the Constitution we follow today. And the first seven Presidents are forgotten in history. The Northwest Territory Under the A.O.C. Congress had control over the northwest territory. (north of the Ohio River, west from PA to the Miss. River) The Land Ordinance 2 laws passed to manage this land. -a system for surveying the land. Congress did not have the power to raise revenue by direct taxation of the inhabitants of the United States. Therefore, the immediate goal of the ordinance was to raise money through the sale of land in the largely unmapped territory west of the original colonies acquired from Britain at the end of the Revolutionary War. . The Northwest Ordinance How they would be govern and how to become a state. It guaranteed that new states would be on an equal footing with the old Protected civil liberties in the new territories. First national legislation that set limits on the expansion of slavery. Banned slavery and provided for education. Trouble Grow in the 1780’s A.O.C. provide for no army and Americans interests in the frontier could not be protected. The Spanish in LA tried to constrain American settlers by closing the port of New Orleans and British refused to abandon frontier forts. Economic depression in mid-1780’s. Shay’s Rebellion shut down courts, blocking foreclosures. The Constitution Convention 1787, American agreed that the AOC was weak Philadelphia, May 1787 special convention to draft changes to AOC. New Jersey Plan favored by the small states -congress would be given the power to regulate trade and to tax. -Unicameral legislation James Madison Designed the Virginia Plan (advocated a national union that was both strong and republican. The power to tax and regulate commerce. A bicameral legislature (House of Representative and a Senate) In both houses the states with larger population would have more members. A President to command the armed forces and manage foreign relations. LEFT-SIDED ACTIVITY The Great Compromise Proposed by Roger Sherman Created a bicameral, or two-house leg. 2 senators per state H.O.R. represented by population To appease the southern states because of the northern large white pop. Delegates adopted the 3/5 compromise (counted each enslaved person as 3/5 of a person to be add to the pop) boosted the southern seats gave no right to enslaved slaves. The Struggle Over Ratification 9 of the 13 states had to ratify (approve) Federalist (supporters of the constitution) They wanted a strong central government (Hamilton, Jay, and Madison). They wrote a series of letters to the newspaper (the Federalists papers, explained why the Constitution was so vital to the survival of the new nation. Anti-federalist (opponents of the Constitution). This document gave to much power to the national government. Lacked a bill of rights (added before ratification) 1789, congress approved the ten constitutional amendments (The Bill of Rights) Principles of the Constitution Divided power between the state and the nation. (federalism) Separation of Powers (Executive, legislative, and judicial) Checks and Balances (Congress enacts laws, the president may veto them-but Congress can override the veto by 2/3rds majority. The President nominates Supreme court judges, but the Senate must approve them. Left-sided Activity Page C9: Copy chart: The federal System Left-Sided Activity What were the main arguments for and against the ratification of the constitution? What major principles appear in the US Constitution?
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