America Under the Articles of Confederation

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Denis Denissenko
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I. Ratification Celebrations
II. America under the Articles of Confederation
A. The Articles of Confederation
1. The first written constitution of the United States
a. One-house Congress
b. No president
c. No judiciary
2. The only powers granted to the national government were those for declaring war, conducting foreign affairs, and making treaties.
3. Congress established national control over land to the west of the thirteen states and devised rules for its settlement.
B. Congress and the West
1. In the immediate aftermath of independence, Congress took the position that by aiding the British, Indians had forfeited the right to their lands. 2. Congress was unsure how to regulate the settlement of western land. C. Settlers and the West

1. Peace brought rapid settlement into frontier areas.
2. Leaders feared unregulated flow of settlement cross the Appalachian Mountains could provoke constant warfare with the Indians.
D. The Land Ordinance
1. The Ordinance of 1784 established stages of self-government for the West. 2. The Ordinance of 1785 regulated land sales in the region north of the Ohio River.
3. Like the British before them, American officials found it difficult to regulate the thirst for new land.
4. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established policy that admitted the area’s population as equal members of the political system.
E. The Confederation’s Weaknesses
1. The war created an economic crisis that the government, under the Articles of Confederation, could not adequately address.
2. With Congress unable to act, the states adopted their own economic policies. F. Shays’s Rebellion
1. Facing seizure of their land, debt-ridden farmers closed the courts. a. Invoked liberty trees and liberty poles.
2. Shays’s Rebellion demonstrated the need for a more central government to ensure private liberty.
G. Nationalists of the 1780s
1. Nation builders like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton called for increased national authority.
2. The concerns voiced by critics of the Articles found a sympathetic hearing among men who had developed a national consciousness during the Revolution. 3. It was decided that a new constitution was needed to avoid either anarchy or monarchy.

III. A New Constitution
A. The Structure of Government
1. The most prominent men took part in the Constitutional Convention. a. Wealthy
b. Well educatedFoner, Give Me Liberty! Chapter 7: Founding a Nation, 1783-1789 2 2. The Constitution was to create a legislature, an executive, and a national judiciary.
3. The key to stable, effective republican government was finding a way to balance the competing claims of liberty and power.
4. A final compromise was agreed on based on the Virginia and New Jersey plans.
B. The Limits of Democracy
1. The Constitution did not set federal voting qualifications. delegates. 2. The words “slave” and “slavery” did not appear in the Constitution but it did provide for slavery.
3. The South Carolinian delegates
4. The new government was based on a limited democracy, ensuring only prominent men holding office.
5. Neither the president nor federal judges were elected by popular vote. a. The system was confusing.
C. The Division and Separation of Powers
1. The Constitution embodies federalism and a system of checks and balances. a. Federalism refers to the relationship between the national government and the states.
b. The separation of powers, or the system of checks and balances, refers to the way the Constitution seeks to prevent any branch of the national government from dominating the other two.
D. The Debate over Slavery
1. Slavery divided the proved very influential in preserving slavery within the Constitution.
E. Slavery in the Constitution
1. Congress prohibited the slave trade in 1808.
2. The fugitive slave clause accorded slave laws extraterritoriality. 3. The federal government could not interfere with slavery in the states. a. Slave states had more...
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