Lecture Honors U.S. History Mr.

Irwin Week 3

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Chapter 2-2A Lecture From the Articles of Confederacy to the U.S. Constitution 1776 - 2nd Continental Congress When the 2nd Continental drafted and ratified the Declaration of Independence, this action brought the original 13 colonies together into what is termed a confederacy. confederacy – a union or an alliance. confederation – a group of confederates (states) united for a common purpose. state – a body politic; specifically, one constituting a nation. sovereign – paramount; supreme, self governing; independent. sovereignty – supremacy of authority or rule, as exercised by a sovereign state. United States of America - At the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there really was no United States in the sense that we think of today; rather, some historians believe that when the words, “the United States of America,” were written into the Declaration, that the phrase was meant to convey that the 13 original English colonies were acting as independent states, but were united over the issue of their resolve to separate from and become independent of England, hence they were the United States of America. Modern historians consider the United States of America, at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to be a loose confederation of independent states. The historical consensus is, that in 1776, individual colonists identified more with the politics and issues of their individual states than the politics and issues of any larger entity, such as a United States. The 13 states believed that they were sovereign, and as sovereign states, they wanted to maintain their own power and autonomy. They were really only uniting as a wartime necessity, and probably thought that when the war with Britain was over, there would be no need to be part of the confederacy of the United States of America. The Articles of Confederation - While the war was going on, some form of government was needed in order to keep the confederacy organized. Power and authority needed to be documented and agreed upon, so that the confederacy could operate in an organized and efficient manner while it was fighting England.

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In 1777, the 2nd Continental Congress adopted a set of laws to govern the United States. These laws were called the Articles of Confederation. Each of the states needed to approve, or ratify the Articles. The task of getting every state to ratify the Articles was not completed until 1781. A Description of our first government – Under the Articles of Confederation: • • Most of the power rested with the individual states. The national government created by the Articles, had only one “branch.” (The single branch of the government was a legislature, or Congress. The Congress was made up of representatives, or delegates from the 13 states). The Congress made laws, carried out the laws, and enforced the laws. (There was no real national court system. Each state maintained its own courts). The Congress had the power to declare war & and to borrow money). The Congress did not have the power to tax. The Congress did not have the power to force one of the states to take a certain action. Passage of any measure requiring money required 9 out of 13 votes (more than a simple majority). Changes to the Articles of Confederacy required all 13 delegates approval.

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As time went on the colonists realized that this form of government made it difficult to get things done, and that the Articles of Confederation, as a government document, had inherent weaknesses. The Articles were drafted in a time, and under circumstances in which the colonists wanted to move away from a government that had too much power, and especially one that had too much power concentrated in the hands of one person (King George III). As a response to this feeling, The Articles of Confederation was built upon the sovereign power of each of the 13 independent states. Nationalists - By 1786, two distinct philosophies regarding governmental power had surfaced. One philosophy was that there needed to be more “national” power. State Sovereignty - An opposing popular philosophy concerning government was that the individual states should retain the most governmental power.

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1786 - The Annapolis Convention – The Nationalists held a convention in Annapolis, Maryland to discuss economic problems that could not be solved under the Articles of Confederation. This meeting was poorly attended, with representatives from only 5 states. Even though this meeting was poorly attended, it was decided that a meeting should take place in Philadelphia, the following year, where it was hoped that problems of the weak Articles of Confederation could be properly addressed. 1786 - Shay’s Rebellion – With no ability to tax, the United States as a whole, along with the 13 individual states, had gone deep into debt by borrowing approximately $50 million for the war effort to fight the British. One state, Massachusetts, raised its state taxes to pay for its war debt. This new tax hit farmers in the western part of the state the hardest. This brought back memories of the various “Acts” that King George had imposed on the colonies. Farmer, Daniel shay started a rebellion that quickly spread. The Massachusetts government gathered an army and sent it to the western part of the state. By January 1787, Shay’s Rebellion was over. Thinking that civil unrest could potentially undo everything that the colonists had fought for, in order to gain the independence to self govern, those of the Nationalist philosophy, as well as others, began voicing a concern that a national government, stronger than what the Articles of Confederacy described was needed. 1787 – The Constitutional Convention - Shay’s Rebellion, and other events of unrest paved the way for what has become known as the Constitutional Convention. 12 of the 13 states sent a total of 55 delegates. 1787 – The United States Constitution - According to James Madison, the purpose of the convention was to “decide forever the fate of republican government.” In four months time, the convention delegates created United States Constitution. One can consider the Constitution to be the “blueprint” that depicts how the government of the United States is set up, what its structure is, and what powers the government has. For his central role in shaping the document James Madison (who later became our nation’s 4th president) is considered to be the “father of the U.S. Constitution. democracy – Government by the people , exercised either directly, or through elected representatives. republican form of government – a political order that is not a Monarchy; a constitutional form of government, especially a democratic one. - End of Lecture -

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