The article of confederation
Adopted on November 15th 1777 but fully implemented on March 1st 1781
« 1754 League of friendship »
-Article I : Name of the new country
-Article II : It guarantees the sovereignty of the States
-Article III : Definition of the Confederation as a « League of Friendship » + mutual defense -Article IV : Rights and privileges of the people + statis of criminals Article V : Congress
Article VI : Area for which the states are not responsible.
The congress is the main institution in this new country.
Distribution of power between the institutions and the State.
A great imbalance of powers appears between the State & the Congress, illustrated by the Article IX & X
The characteristics of the Articles of Confederation
Imbalance between the executive power and legislative power Independence of the States
Avoir arbitrary taxation
The main goal of this system was to avoid tyranny. This system is composed of 2 sources of legitimacy :
The people & the States
There was some problems:
No standing army, no execuive leadership, no National Currency, Each state had Equal Vote in Congress, Required unanimous vote to amend.
In the 1780's, the Flaws of the system. > Reasons for a new Constitution
Economic Crisis 1780's
Absence of an American economic policy + Trade barriers between the states : Risk of implosion Debt transferred to the states
Crisis of legislative rule : Legislative tyranny
Increasing tensions > Shay's rebellion.
The localists took measures that only benefited themselves.
The shay's Rebellion :
In July 1786 = series of farm foreclosures
Demonstration and rioters protested against high taxation, the governor's high salary, high court cost and the assembly's refusal to issue paper money ? The opposition was organized byDaniel Shays, at first there was only meetings and petitions, but then > escalation. The massachussets Supreme Court indicated eleven leaders of the movement as disorderly, riotous and seditious. Shay's response was that he raised a militia of 700 men > Agragarian riot. This event showed the weakness of Congress on matter of economics and on handling the riots.
Jefferson & Hamilton, considered that tyranny was back.
Conclusion : The agragarian riot that revealed the weakness of Congress and that Tyranny had developed : There was too much local power in the legislative. Absence of federal courts, law-making power mainly remains in the states Congress could not sign treaties, declare war, or tax the States. > No judiciary, shrunk executive linked with a powerful legislative + no joint eco and defense policy There was a need for a more balanced system, a more central government.
II) The constitution
1787 : Constitutionnal Convention of Philadelphia ( May 25th – September 17th, Rhode Island ) Role played by George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton.
There was 55 delegates from the 12 States. Each State tried to defend its own interest. Federalists against anti-federalits.
Divisions and compromises :
Larges states vs small states
Federalists against anti-federalits.
The Virginia Plan ( By James Madison ) (federalist)
Bicamal Legislature (one branch elected by the people, second elected by the first one) Proportional representation
Fortification of the executive
The New Jersay Plan ( Patterson William )
Federal executive elected by the Congress
The Connecticut Compromise ( The great compromise Roger Sherman Oliver Ellsworth )
House of Representatives : proportional representation
Senate : Equal representation ( chosen by the legislature of the states ) A signle executive ( the preseident), selected by the Electoral College.
Other Issues that created divisions between the states :
The issue of slavery / the counting of population...
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