As of December 31, 2014, I retired from full-time teaching in Humboldt State University's Department of History. Before we launch into our discussion about our nation's Founding Moments, let's see how much we know about both our founding moments and our founding documents.
Now, let's take this exercise a bit further by seeing what we know and understand about the Constitution. To study the beliefs of two growing political groups - the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. To understand the controversies and compromises that accompanied the creation of the governmental structures under the Constitution.
To gain a better understanding of the first two presidencies of Washington and Adams and the domestic problems they confronted. Today, we will learn that there were actually three founding moments during which three founding documents were produced: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. Founding Moment #1: The 1776 declaration of American independence from England - the Declaration of Independence. When the English colonists decided to break their political and economic ties with England, they announced their break with the Declaration of Independence.
But a declaration of independence was simply a statement that the British colonists wished to be free from England.
Remember that before the War for independence, Americans were all too familiar with a dangers of a strong central government. While the Articles were written in 1777 during the second year of the War, they were not ratified for 4 years because of a dispute over western lands.
The Articles were finally ratified in March 1781 after the states agreed to land claims that met the requirements of 9 states.
The American continent at this time had 1500 miles of coastline and a vast inland wilderness that made it one of the largest countries in the world. What is the significance of this last declaration - the granting of democratic self governance? What is the significance of the fact that two years after democratic self governance was declared to be the governmental structure for new states, Congress decided to appoint governors? Shortly after the Articles of Confederation were passed, a dedicated, small group of powerful, propertied men who recognized the limitations of a weak central government began a discussion about creating a new constitution that would be based on a strong central government.
For almost 4 months, 30 of the 55 delegates worked 6 days a week, five hours a day, from May 25 to September 17 in miserable summer heat and humidity - not to amend the Articles, but to create an entirely new framework for government that has lasted to this day and was like nothing ever seen before. The Convention kept its proceedings completely secret, even to the extent of having the windows of its meeting room nailed shut.
So what happened that made the delegates ultimately decide not to amend the Articles, but rather to create an entirely new constitutional structure?
Joseph Ellis tells us that it was the intellectual interaction and dedication of the "Founding Brothers" that was responsible for this founding moment - men who were but a "tiny minority of prominent political leaders from several key states" and who "conspired to draft and then ratify a document designed to accommodate republican principles on a national scale." (p. Favored throwing out the Articles of Confederation and replacing it with the Constitution - strong federal government.
If we keep this heated debate between the federalists and anti-federalists in mind, it is clear as Joseph Ellis reminds us, that the United States was founded on a debate - an argument - involving conflicting attitudes about government - about state versus federal control of government. Because debate characterized the Revolutionary Era, and the debate involved two sharply divided sides, it is clear that compromise was required in order to create a new government. This debate and compromise surrounding the signing of the Constitution contributed to decades of partisan debate about sovereignty. Jack Racove, a Constitutional historian from Stanford, argues that the real issue is not what the Founders actually signed in Philadelphia - but instead, what those representatives at the state level thought the Founders had signed. Because they freely entered into that contract, most southerners felt they had the right to break that contract at any time they felt the government had violated the rights of the states.
The southern legislators felt so strongly about this contract, that they also built in protections for the states via the Bill of Rights. In reality, the Founding Fathers did not create a radical break with the past by creating a true democracy.
These Electors cast ballots for President and the candidate with the most electoral votes became president. Myth: The Constitution establishes the United States as a Christian nation and was, in fact, written to promite and prepetuate a Christian order. James Madison, like Jefferson, convinced the Founding Fathers that it was best for the Constitution to say as little as possible about religion, especially since state laws reflected a wide variety of positions on the topic. Remember, too, that the founding fathers were laizzez faire advocates - they believed that government should be kept out of people's homes, out of the marketplace, and out of their spiritual lives.
So, in the Constitution itself, there is no mention of God, Jesus Christ, or Christianity. George Washington was elected during the first federal election in 1788 and inaugurated on April 30, 1789.
As President, he suggested few laws to Congress, seldom criticized opponents of governmental policy, limited public statements to foreign affairs and military matters, and generally deferred to Congressional decisions on domestic policy (only vetoed 2 measures in eight years.) His style set a precedent for presidents who followed.
Established the first cabinet of presidential advisors who headed executive departments and gave President advice on executive policy. He w as unable to unify the nation at a time when it was becoming more politically fractured. However, within a few months of Washington's presidency, it was apparent that the founding fathers had split into two distinct groups, with two distinctly different leaders, each of whom had conflicting visions for the newly established United States. Given these two competing dreams for the evolution of the United States, it was clear that domestic problems would arise during the two presidencies. To avoid high costs of shipping corn and rye crops over the Appalachians, most farmers distilled them into whiskey before transportation. For the first several years, Pennsylvanians refused to pay, threatened tax collectors, and sometimes beat them up.
Distillers were expected to keep accurate records of production and to gauge and label each cask before shipment (a particular burden on part-time, small-scale distillers not accustomed to such strict accounting). Federal tax inspectors were empowered to inspect stills and search property for contraband goods and illegal distilling operations. Tax evaders were to be tried in federal courts at Philadelphia, a time-consuming and costly trip that could ruin a distiller financially, even if he were found innocent. But the biggest division that arose during the early presidencies occurred in 1798 under President Adams - a division that led to Adams' endorsement of legislation that eventually derailed his presidency. Within months after the Acts were passed, 17 anti-Federalist newspaper editors and politicians were accused of sedition and 10 were found guilty and imprisoned.
When the revolutionary war ended, our hopes and dreams became a reality – the colonies were finally free from the Britain parliament control! Earlier in the year on March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation drafted by Benjamin Franklin and John Dickinson were approved, now serving as the constitution. It looks as if our nation could be headed into another time period full of protests and rebellious acts. When the revolutionary war ended with the Battle of Yorktown, many other events still followed for it was not yet the end.
Before the American Revolution, there were 13 separate colonies that were not united at all. In some countries today, similar things are happening to the events that occurred in the American Revolution. This entry was posted in Grade 8 Humanities and tagged 8-5, american revolution, george washington, gold, journal #5, outcomes, revolutionary voices by Emma.
From the beginning of the American Revolution, Congress felt the need for a stronger union and a government powerful enough to defeat Great Britain. The impetus for an effective central government lay in wartime urgency, the need for foreign recognition and aid, and the growth of national feeling.
None of these drafts contributed significantly to the fourth version written by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, the text that after much revision provided the basis for the Articles approved by Congress. By 1779 all the states had approved it except Maryland, but prospects for acceptance looked bleak, because claims to western lands by other states set Maryland in inflexible opposition.
Although the states remained sovereign and independent, no state was to impose restrictions on the trade or the movement of citizens of another state not imposed on its own. If you completed your subscription and still have not received an email, please contact us.
The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, on November 15, 1777, but the states did not ratify them until March 1, 1781. Shortly after the revolutionary war began at Concord and Lexington, Benjamin Franklin submitted this plan for a united colonial confederation or American republic to the Continental Congress on July 21, 1775.
Thomas Jefferson, a fellow delegate, annotated his copy of Franklina€™s plan, which began a national debate on the creation of an American Republic. After undergoing more than a year of planning and compromise in the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union Between the States was finally ready to be sent to the states for ratification. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first constitution of the United States. Between March 1, 1781, when the Articles of Confederation were enacted, and November 5, 1781, when a new Congress convened, Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean served briefly as presidents of the body.

When the Confederation Congress began planning the organization of the territories north and west of the Ohio River, Thomas Jefferson and his congressional committee moved against mainstream eighteenth-century thought to draft regulations that prohibited in the territories slavery or involuntary servitude except for convicted criminals. When the Confederation Congress began planning the organization of the territories north and west of the Ohio River, Thomas Jefferson and his congressional committee acted outside of mainstream eighteenth-century thought in drafting regulations to immediately prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude for anyone except convicted criminals. With these words, Henry Knox (1750–1806), George Washingtona€™s former artillery commander, described to Washington an uprising of indebted farmers and laborers in Massachusetts led by Daniel Shays in 1786 and 1787. Abigail Adams (1744–1818) predicted that the 1786 rebellion in Massachusetts led by Daniel Shays (ca. In 1785, James Madison and George Washington were in the midst of a written conversation about ways to create a stronger national government. In September 1786, delegates from five states met in Annapolis, Maryland, ostensibly to discuss barriers to trade under the Articles of Confederation. In this letter written in 1787 on the eve of the federal Constitutional Convention, James Madison warns George Washington of the dangers from both temporizers and radicals.
Delegates to the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787 created the instrument of government in the East Room on the first floor of the Pennsylvania State House, which is known as Independence Hall because the American Declaration of Independence was adopted here on July 4, 1776.
Delegates to the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787 created the instrument of government in the East Room on the first floor of the Pennsylvania State House (known today as Independence Hall) on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania, North America, As it Appeared in the Year 1800. The Northwest Ordinance, adopted by the Confederation Congress on July 13, 1787, established a precedent for the organization of territories outside of the nationa€™s original thirteen states. Philadelphia, site of both Continental Congresses, was one of the most urban, advanced cities in America in the eighteenth century. During the American Revolution the Continental Congress issued paper currency to finance the Revolutionary War. Rufus King (1755–1827), a member of the Confederation Congress and a delegate to the Federal Constitution Convention of 1787, expressed concern for a 1785 Massachusetts legislative call for a national convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. Robert Pleasants (1723–1801), a Virginia Quaker who had recently freed his own eighty slaves, wrote to Thomas Jefferson asking his support for education for slave children in order to prepare them for freedom.
Can I get some volunteers to tell me some things that you know and understand about the Constitution?
History: the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the signing of the Constitution in 1787.
It was not a legal document - it was simply a declaration of their intent to fight for independence. Thus, the first governing document of the United States avoided the creation of a strong central government.
It's goal was clear - to create a weak central government that would not interfere with the stronger powers of the 13 state governments. To that end, in 1786, five states sent representatives to a gathering at Annapolis, Maryland where they proposed that a general gathering of state delegates be held in 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation.
Instead, the founders created the Electoral College whereby each state allowed a number of electors equal to the total number of senators and representatives entitled in that state.
To them, politics was about economics and property - not about salvation and leading a moral life. And the first major problem became known as The Whiskey Rebellion, which was quickly followed by various social and economic divisions.
The problem - To produce enough revenue to support the national assumption of state debts, Secretary of State Hamilton proposed an excise tax on domestically-produced whiskey. A pack-horse could move only 4 bushels of grain over the mountains, but condensing 24 bushels into 2 kegs of whiskey doubled his profits.
Between 1775 to 1800, new cities arose in areas that had previously been rural farming communities.
History that created three founding documents - the 1776 Declaration of American independence, the Articles of Confederation; and the Constitution. Already, Christmas has arrived yet again, making it seem as if just moments ago, I had trudged across the Delaware River as part of the continental army and won our first victory at the Battle of Trenton. When I returned home from fighting in the war, my father and I spent many days catching up with each other.
According to these articles, there was no president or Supreme Court for the National Congress had the most power.
I had would have never anticipated that building a powerful nation was much harder than overthrowing Britain. Not long after the revolutionary war, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1782, in which the Americans declared peace with Britain. Laws came from King George III and the parliament, and they also could establish acts and tax the colonists to get money from them. Some countries like Syria are unhappy with their government, which has resulted in the civil war that is still going on today. At the time, the founding fathers weren't sure if the United States was going to become 13 individual states with entirely separate governments, or if it was going to become a nation with 13 states.
Stemming from wartime urgency, its progress was slowed by fears of central authority and extensive land claims by states before was it was ratified on March 1, 1781.
During the early years of the war this desire became a belief that the new nation must have a constitutional order appropriate to its republican character. Altogether six drafts of the Articles were prepared before Congress settled on a final version in 1777.
Dickinson prepared his draft in June 1776; it was revised by a committee of Congress and discussed in late July and August. Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts claimed by their charters to extend to the “South Sea” or the Mississippi River. A disagreement over the appointment of taxes forecast the division over slavery in the Constitutional Convention.
Decisions on certain specified matters–making war, entering treaties, regulating coinage, for example–required the assent of nine states in Congress, and all others required a majority. The Articles also required each state to extend “full faith and credit” to the judicial proceedings of the others. This provision, like many in the Articles, indicated that powerful provincial loyalties–and suspicions of central authority–persisted.
The Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and a weak central government, leaving most of the power with the state governments.
After more than a year of consideration, it was submitted to the states for ratification in 1777, but not enough states approved it until 1781. Although Jefferson envisioned that the prohibition would go into effect in 1800, the final ordinance of 1787 contained an immediate ban. Shaysa€™ Rebellion was caused by excessive land taxation, high legal costs, and economic depression following the American Revolution, which threatened the stability of the Confederation. Both men believed that the confederation government might have to sink lower before the time would be right for a successful “meeting of Politico-Commercial Commssrs. The commissioners decided that not enough states were represented to make any substantive agreement. Madison also sketches his plans for a new federal government and constitution to be formulated in Philadelphia. In order to secure secrecy the delegates took an oath and met behind closed doors and windows with pulled drapes. In his letter to Nathan Dane (1752–1835), a Massachusetts delegate to the Confederation Congress and architect of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, King correctly predicted that any new government would be less republican and that the larger states would want more control of the new government.
Thus, the Founders had to follow their first document declaring their independence with a second document creating a new government that could operate during the course of the Revolutionary War.
Carol Berkin argues, while the Articles met the war goals of the Revolution, they were not able to meet the nation’s needs for a new government. There were no inclusions of basic freedoms in the Constitution, other than the right of habeas corpus.
In reality, five years have passed, and the revolutionary war is over, ending with the Battle of Yorktown a few months earlier.
Five years of separation can change a person significantly, and there were some evenings where we would chat into the dark hours of night. Unfortunately, it was clear that this constitution would not be strong enough for the congress did not have much power at all. But now, that I understand the disadvantages of the Articles of Confederation, I know in my heart that its weakness will make a strong constitution possible. Since the colonies gained their independence from the colonies, they had to build their own new nation now.
King George’s rule was a form of tyranny as he had total power over the colonies, which later led the colonists to understand that they did not have anyone to represent their voice as part of Britain. Just like in the American Revolution, the citizens want to overthrow their current leader and start a new government themselves. At the same time, if America was going to be one nation then the founding fathers had to decide what powers would be exercised by a federal or national government. Under these articles, the states remained sovereign and independent, with Congress serving as the last resort on appeal of disputes.

A fear of central authority inhibited the creation of such a government, and widely shared political theory held that a republic could not adequately serve a large nation such as the United States. The result, the third version of Dickinson’s original, was printed to enable Congress to consider it further. The charters of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island confined those states to a few hundred miles of the Atlantic. Dickinson’s draft required the states to provide money to Congress in proportion to the number of their inhabitants, black and white, except Indians not paying taxes. Its revenue would come from the states, each contributing according to the value of privately owned land within its borders. And the free inhabitants of each state were to enjoy the “privileges and immunities of free citizens” of the others.
In the 1780s–the so-called Critical Period–state actions powerfully affected politics and economic life. Once peace removed the rationale of wartime necessity the weaknesses of the 1777 Articles of Confederation became increasingly apparent.
The Articles provided for a one-house legislature, a weak executive, no national power of taxation, a lack of standard currency, and voting by state—flaws that would eventually lead to its failure.
The Articles provided for a weak executive branch, no national power of taxation, and voting by states. When the first Confederation Congress met on November 5, 1781, it elected John Hanson (1715–1783), delegate from Maryland, as its president. The protest was one of several that exposed the need to curb the excesses and inequities of state governments and led men such as Knox and Washington to seek remedies in a stronger national government. Shays and Job Shattuck (1736–1819), both veterans of the Revolutionary Army and leaders of the 1786 rebellion, are depicted in this scene.
Proportional representation and a national legislative veto over state laws were just two of Madisona€™s major proposals. Each was to have a republican government with an executive, legislative council (upper house), assembly, and judiciary. The bottom of the map contains an illustration of the State House, home of the second Continental Congress and the Federal Convention of 1787. The Massachusetts delegates refused to submit the request to Congress or to the other states. This led the Founders into another discussion - and this time is was about creating a new form of government that would differ greatly from that created under the Articles of Confederation. Although the fight for liberty and independence had ended, a new battle had just begun in building a new nation.
Under the Articles of Confederation, states had authority over all governmental functions that were not completely controlled by the new government.
Like myself, citizens of the colonies were afraid of political power, for no one wanted another parliament that made us pay stashes of taxes. After all, George Washington could have seized power, but he has shown us that this was not his way of gaining control.
The first step of building a strong, stable nation was to come up with a new form of government, and in 1780, a written constitution was drafted by John Adams. After the revolution, the Americans established the constitutional government, where there was a congress with 3 branches. Today is different from what has happened in the past as well because there are much more new forms of technology to think about and a lot more countries try to get involved in helping during a war so that our world can be peaceful.
A year earlier, Virginia representative Richard Henry Lee had become the first politician to directly ask the question, and it evoked immediate anger from the people who wanted each state to remain separate.
Congress was also given the authority to make treaties and alliances, maintain armed forces and coin money.
The legislators of a large republic would be unable to remain in touch with the people they represented, and the republic would inevitably degenerate into a tyranny. In November 1777 the final Articles, much altered by this long deliberative process, were approved for submission to the states. Land speculators in Maryland and these other “landless states” insisted that the West belonged to the United States, and they urged Congress to honor their claims to western lands. With large numbers of slaves, the southern states opposed this requirement, arguing that taxes should be based on the number of white inhabitants. Divisions among the states and even local rebellions threatened to destroy the fruits of the Revolution. In this letter, Charles Thomson (1729–1824), secretary of Congress, informs George Washington of Hansona€™s election. Not only was the territory north and west of the Ohio River to be settled by Americans and admitted into full statehood in the union, but the Ordinance stipulated that those territories would be free from slavery or involuntary servitude and have a bill of rights. Although it is quite unfortunate that America will no longer have this honorable leader in its ranks, I will forever admire George Washington as the greatest man in the world. The monarchy society was transformed into a republic government where people were citizens and participants in the political process.
The American Revolution has had an impact on many things in society today such as equal rights, slavery, and a republic government. However, the central government lacked the ability to levy taxes and regulate commerce, issues that led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 for the creation of new federal laws.
To many Americans their union seemed to be simply a league of confederated states, and their Congress a diplomatic assemblage, representing thirteen independent polities. Later in the year Silas Deane, a delegate from Connecticut, offered one of his own, which was followed still later by a draft from the Connecticut delegation, probably a revision of Deane’s. Maryland also supported the demands because nearby Virginia would clearly dominate its neighbor should its claims be accepted.
This failed to pass, but eventually the southerners had their way as Congress decided that each state’s contribution should rest on the value of its lands and improvements. Nationalists, led by James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Wilson, almost immediately began working toward strengthening the federal government. According to the Articles, the president of the Congress presided only over Congress; George Washington, chosen after the ratification of the Federal Constitution, was the first president of the United States. Nathan Dane (1752–1835), who authored the clause prohibiting slavery, annotated this copy. In fact, there was a day where I joined numerous workers in a protest against the constitution, for they had not paid us our salaries on time! Votes were extended to the larger part of the population and public offices were elected by the people. All branches could put “checks” on other branches to make sure that they were all following the rules in the constitution. Eventually Thomas Jefferson persuaded his state to yield its claims to the West, provided that the speculators’ demands were rejected and the West was divided into new states, which would be admitted into the Union on the basis of equality with the old. In the middle of the war, Congress had little time and less desire to take action on such matters as the slave trade and fugitive slaves, both issues receiving much attention in the Constitutional Convention. National problems persisted, however, as American merchants were barred from the British West Indies and the British army continued to hold posts in the Old Northwest, American territory under the Treaty of Paris. They turned a series of regional commercial conferences into a national constitutional convention at Philadelphia in 1787.
In this new form of governing, there were “Checks and Balances”, in which the government was made up of the executive branch, legislative branch, and judicial branch, who all had control over each other. Despite all these changes, some aspects still remained the same, such as the 13 colonies still existing in the United States today and how taxes are still collected today, although they are better organized and more progressive. Virginia’s action persuaded Maryland to ratify the Articles, which went into effect on March 1, 1781.
Liberty and equality became an important part of the American society which made people question slavery, the secondary importance of women, and religious intolerance. Still, national feeling grew slowly in the 1780s, although major efforts to amend the Articles in order to give Congress the power to tax failed in 1781 and 1786. This led to the civil war, which focused on the freedom of African-Americans and how all slaves should be freed.
The year after the failure of 1786, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia and effectively closed the history of government under the Articles of Confederation. Later on, women started protesting for equal rights too such as greater respect from inside and outside home. Eventually, they were given the right to vote and today, women are still pioneers in fields of study that were once only open to men. They met in May of 1787, and one of the first things the 55 delegates did was elect George Washington president of the convention.
Soon after, Edmund Randolph and the Virginia delegation introduced their “Virginia Plan,” which called for a central government that had a two chamber legislature, and an executive branch.
However, now it was time for the states to ratify it, however a new struggle quickly emerged between the people who supported it, the Federalists, and the people who opposed it, who were called the Anti-Federalists.

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