Constitutional Period/Critical Period/Federalist Period

Topics: United States Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, Articles of Confederation / Pages: 27 (6730 words) / Published: Feb 4th, 2013
Constitutional Period/Critical Period/Federalist Period
1783-1800
By Emily Rose, Rachel Brunsman, and Stephanie Fullenwider

Overview

Ending the American Revolution, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. During the war, the Articles of Confederation had been drafted, creating a confederation out of the colonies for the first time. Under the Articles, the government could not raise an army or tax. It also lacked centralized power because of the absence of an executive branch. The only strong aspect of the Articles was its orderly settlement of the west, as seen in the Land Ordinance of 1784 and 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Those in favor of a stronger central government became known as the Nationalists, and they wanted the federal government to have more power than the states’ governments. Their concerns were exemplified after Shay’s Rebellion in 1786. Although the rebellion was blown out of proportion, it convinced many that a stronger government was needed to control similar outbursts in the future. The government’s inability to tax and raise an army, as well as their lack of central power, led to what became known as the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The Founding Fathers met to fix the problems with the Articles, but ended up drafting the Constitution instead. During the convention, several different plans were discussed. The first was the Virginia Plan, written by James Madison, which suggested the existence of both an executive and legislative branch. The legislative branch was to have two houses of Congress, each with representation based on population. In contrast, the New Jersey Plan was to have a unicameral legislative branch with equal representation for each state. With the help of Benjamin Franklin, the Great Compromise was created, which combined the two plans. It called for three branches; including a legislative branch comprised of two houses. The Senate was to have equal representation from each state, while the



Cited: “American History A.P. Quizzes.” Historyteacher.net. Feldmeth, Gregory, Jerome A. McDuffie, Gary Wayne Piggrem, and Steven E. Woodworth. The Best Test Preparation for the AP United States History Exam.

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