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The American Constitution: The Articles Of Confederation And The Constitution

The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution After winning independence from Great Britain in 1776, the United States was in need of an organized national government, clearly defined in written form. The first Continental Congress drafted the Articles of confederation the following year, though it would not be ratified until 1781. The Articles provided the framework for a centralized government but ultimately were not strong enough to enforce its own requirements. A new constitution was needed. Congressional leaders began the process of drafting another document that would strengthen the weak federal government while continuing to ensure individual liberties. The Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1787 after much…show more content…
James Madison of Virginia wanted a solution to the economic and political problems plaguing the new nation. He was convinced that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate, weak and in need of replacement. A strong centralized government, Madison believed, would provide greater stability and structure for the American economy. In 1786, Madison invited delegates from each of the 13 states to attend a Constitutional Convention. It was here that he hoped to create a plan for a stronger national government. (This section from Charters of Freedom) During this unprecedented convention, plans and ideas were presented and many issues were debated. Sessions of the convention were held in secret and visitors were not allowed. This secrecy caused anxiety and fear in those who opposed the idea of a powerful centralized government. Two of the plans presented in these secret sessions were the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. Virginia, a large state, thought that representation in the new legislature should be based upon population. New Jersey, a small state, felt it was only fair for each state to be equally represented regardless of population. (Charters of Freedom). “The compromise proposed by Sherman and Ellsworth provided for a dual system of representation. In the House of Representatives each state’s number of seats would be in proportion to population. In…show more content…
Many of them were working-class citizens who felt that the new Constitution would give too much power to the wealthy and privileged. They feared that the United States would even some day have a king. (Charters of Freedom) To calm these fears, Clause 7 of Federalist Paper 84 stated that, “No title of nobility shall be granted” (Loyd). Hamilton called this exclusion of titles of nobility a “cornerstone of republican government” and stated that the government would never be in danger of being outside the hands of the people. He goes on to remind the public that the “people surrender nothing” and quotes the introduction to the new Constitution, emphasizing the words “WE THE PEOPLE.” Unfortunately, he then followed this reassurance by telling them that a bill of rights was unnecessary. Madison and Hamilton seemed to believe that individual rights were obvious and didn 't need to be specifically stated. (Floyd) . Anti-Federalists were adamant about the addition of a bill of rights to ensure protection against tyranny and inequality between the classes. Even Thomas Jefferson, a supporter of the constitution, argued with Madison that a bill of rights was “what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.” (A More Perfect Union: The Creation of the U.S. Constitution. pg. 8, para.5). Madison himself later proposed a list of 17 amendments to the House, 10 of
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