Experimenting with Confederation
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Experimenting with Confederation
Republicanism, Debates, and the Articles of Confederation
Americans Debate RepublicanismAfter the American Revolution, the colonies became states.
The first struggle was establishing a new government, one that would accommodate all states while also serving the national interests.
How did many states react to the idea of a central government? Why?
Republic: Citizens rule their elected representatives
Governments should be based on consent of the people.
State ConstitutionsMany state constitutions had similar ideals. They limited powers of government leaders and guaranteed specific rights for citizens (i.e. speech, religion and press).
These constitutions reflected the want of freedom over equality, and showed a fear of centralized authority.
How did state constitutions differ?Many states differed in voting rights. Some offered voting to all white males, while others only gave it to property owners. Who was left out?Women and African-Americans did not have the right to vote. One rare case, in New Jersey, gave women the right to vote due to their free property owning clause.
Political PrecedentsAfter Charles I’s execution, England had a short-lived republic.
Ancient Greece had a form of democracy.Ancient Rome had a Republic
The Italian city-states of the Renaissance had a Republic.
Political Precedents Cont…Unlike the previous republics found in early historical periods, the U.S. had to contend with appeasing both state and central governments.
This struggle to find a balance between federal and state powers would be the focus of debate for years to come.
While the states sought to create independent constitutions, the Continental Congress met to discuss several crucial questions.
Debating in CongressThree questions were hotly debated in these early meetings of the congress.
First, they needed to decide whether representation in congress should be by population or by state. Why would this be an issue?
Second, the question of how supreme powers could be divided was an issue. The delegates discussed how national and state powers could coexist.
Third, the states discussed who would get the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. This resulted in all states giving up land claims so that Maryland would approve the Articles of Confederation. Why would Maryland not initially approve?
The Articles of ConfederationThe Articles of Confederation were designed so that two levels of
government could operate– State & National.
This alliance was known as a confederation and this allowed for States and the Nation to be supreme in different matters.
The Articles allowed the federal government to declare war, make peace, and sign treaties.
It also allowed for the nation to borrow money, set standards for coins and weights, establish a postal service and deal with Native Americans.
What did the Articles neglect to address that would lead to problems later?
It did not separate the executive departments to carry out and enforce laws, and also left out a national court system to interpret the meaning of laws.
The Northwest TerritoriesThe Land Ordinance of 1785 established a plan for surveying these western territories.The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 set up how the land would be divided, as well as establishing how land areas could become states.
1) Congress would appoint a territorial governor and judges.
2) Settlers could write a temporary constitution and elect their own government once their pop. reached 5,000 voting residents.
3) A state constitution could be approved by congress once the free pop. reached 60,000.
The Confederation’s ProblemsThe Confederation faced a few
dilemmas with the way in which it was setup. What were some of these issues?
The U.S. lacked national unity since each state pursued its own interests.Populations were not taken into account and therefore a very heavily populated state had equal say to a small stateThe Revolutionary War placed $190 million debt on the new nation, and Congress lacked the power to tax individual states without their consent. For example, RI stopped Congresses attempt to raise a tariff.
Debtors & creditors argued over taxes and paper money
Foreign AffairsThe lack of state unity led to foreign affairs issues. These stemmed from debt and border disputes.British merchants and Loyalists were not compensated and this led to British troops remaining in the Great Lakes forts.Spain closed the Mississippi River to American navigation, which made Western farmers could not transport their goods to Eastern markets.
These early problems showed the new government that many changes needed to occur to allow for the American nation to find success.
ConclusionsThe weaknesses of the Confederate government were found in the early years of America’s inception.
The fear Americans had for a strong central government resulted in a government that was too weak to deal with national problems.
The next Constitutional Convention would deal with these issues and draft the strong constitution we still have today.
Reminders HW: SPNotes 140-144 Keep working on topic choice, due on
the 30th! Push in your chairs and leave the room
better than you found it! Have a great day