A philadelphia, pa: 1 May 25, 1787 2 Constitutional Convention

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Unit 8: Sections 4 - 12

VI The Constitutional Convention – The Road to the Constitution

A) - Philadelphia, PA:

1) May 25, 1787

2) Constitutional Convention [Constitutional Convention: a meeting held in Philadelphia in 1787 at which

delegates from the states wrote the U.S. Constitution] met for the first time

3) Independence Hall

4) Declaration of Independence had been debated in this very room just 11 years earlier.


B) Background and Two Opposing Views

1) Two guiding forces of influence while writing the Constitution

aa) The Iroquois League

bb) Magna Carta.
2) FRAMERS (LOOK closely: it IS NOT FARMERS) or writers, of the Constitution = difference of oppinion
aa) Some people thought the 13 states should be combined into one large state WITH NO CENTRAL

bb) Others felt the states should keep as much power as possible for THEMSELVES.

  1. This was called a FEDERAL SYSTEM – The power of the govt. would be divided between a national govt and the states.

C) The Convention

1) Rhode Island DID NOT participate.

2) 55 delegates from 12 states met to revise the Articles of Confed., but decided to DISMISS them instead

3) Now: going to write a CONSTITUTION.
aa) Delegate Profiles

(1) All were white men

(2) All were professionals and businesspeople

(3) More than half were under 40

(4) Ben Franklin: oldest = 81
They were all very well educated men with formal schooling; were well read in politics, philosophy, and economics; and many had college degrees.

bb) Delegate Qualities

(1) Education

(2) Experience

cc) ** George Washington was unanimously voted to preside over the meeting.

dd) John Adams & Thomas Jefferson were ambassadors wking w/other countries

ee) Others, such as Patric Henry, Sam Adams, and John Hancock = AGAINST a strong national govt.
D) Key Decisions

2) EVERYTHING = KEPT A SECRET = so as to not cause confusion, rumors, etc.
3) James Madison = kept the ONLY written records

aa) later to become 4th President


cc) did lots of research as preparation

dd) talked a lot

ee) wrote down every word said

ff) more than 600 printed pages

4) States Rights vs National Rights (remember Sections 1 – 3)

VII Constitutional Compromises

A) Two Plans of Government proposed

1) Virginia Plan(favorable to large states)

aa) similar to our government = three branches of govt.: legislative, executive, & judicial

bb) Two house legislature w/the number of members and votes based on population

  1. New Jersey Plan(favorable to small states)

aa) similar to the Articles of Confederation

bb) EACH STATE = ONE VOTE EACHregardless of population

cc) Congress = KEEP the POWERS IT HAD in the ARTICLES, but would GAIN NEW POWERS


  1. Connecticut delegates suggested a way to satisfy both sides:

aa) The new Congress should have two houses:

(1) House 1 = each state would have EQUAL REPRESENTATION (now = Senate)

(2) House 2 = representation would be based on each state’s population (now = House of Reps)

1) BOTH sides COMPROMISED: agreed to give up something to get something more important

aa) also known as the Connecticut Compromise

C) Slaves

1) slavery: another issue dealt with at the convention

aa) Southern States

  1. wanted enslaved people to be counted as part of their populations

  2. hoped to increase their voting power in Congress

  3. BUT = didn’t want to count enslaved persons as a basis for paying taxes to the national govt

bb) Northern States

  1. had few enslaved people

  2. OPPOSED this idea

cc) Three-Fifths Compromise

  1. both sides: reached a compromise (agreement)

  2. agreed = enslaved ppl would count as 3/5 of other ppl

  3. number = used to determine representation AND taxes

2) The Slave Trade

aa) another compromise: Slave Trade Compromise

bb) Congress could NOT interfere with slave trade = 20 yrs

cc) could not tax exports

VIII The Electoral College- How to Elect a President

A) Electing the Head of the Executive Branch

1) How to elect a Pres of the U.S.

aa) two theories:

  1. members of Congress should do this

  2. people should vote

B) Compromise:

1) settled on a system

2) each state legislature = choose a number of electors

aa) these electors (known as the Electoral College)

bb) would choose a President and Vice President


dd) still used today = but the voters now choose electors directly

ee) Constitution = signed by 39 of the 55 men on September 17, 1787

IX Ratification of the Constitution

  1. Constitution = passed into law

  1. 9 out of the 13 states ratified it

  2. They did not realize, however, how difficult that process would be!


  1. DID NOT ratify it until Washington had been president for over six months.


  1. FINALLY decided to ratify = it was threatened to be treated as a foreign nation in its commerce (trade) with other states

3) NO violence or bloodshed

4)Constitution of the United States of the people, by the people, and for the people.

X A Stronger National Government


1) moved from anarchy and no government = TO = a country of strength and power

2) power of govt: now known as separation of powers = limiting the power of government by separating the

governing bodies

B) Federalism

1) the debate (or argument) over WHO SHOULD RETAIN THE MOST POWER – the NATIONAL

or STATE governments = known as FEDERALISM

2) national govt. = known as the FEDERAL GOVT
C) **Use the chart below to compare/contrast the POWER of the FEDERAL GOVT. in the ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION and the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Powers of

Federal Govt.

Articles of Confederation

Unites States Constitution

- Declare war; make peace



- Coin money



- Manage foreign affairs



- Establish a postal system



- Impose taxes


- Regulate trade


- Organize a court system


- Call state militia for service


- Protect copyrights


- Take other necessary actions to

run the federal govt.


** The Constitution extended federal powers BEYOND those granted

under the Articles of Confederation **

State Govts have the power to:

- regulate trade within their borders

- establish local govts

- to conduct local elections and determine qualifications of voters in state elections

- to establish public schools

- to provide for the safety, health, and welfare of their citizens
*** NOTE ***

- If state and federal law disagree – the CONSTITUTION becomes THE SUPREME LAW of the LAND – i.e. the NATIONAL GOVT. has more power than the state govt.

XI Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists

1) people who openly opposed the Constitution

2) felt it gave too much power to the national govt.

3) took too much away from the states

4) also opposed the Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights

5) thought it failed to provide for certain basic liberties, such as freedom of speech or religion
B) The Federalists

1) group supported the Constitution

2) many helped write it

3) argued that the nation would not survive w/out a strong national government

4) pointed to the failure of the Articles of Confederation to support their view

5) James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay

aa) wrote a paper defending the Constitution

bb) known as The Federalist

C) Both

1) Federalists and Anti-Federalists = compromised

2) decided that this written document was very important

XII Final Ratification of the Constitution

  1. Fall: 1787

1) By year’s end: Delaware, Pennsylvania, & New Jersey = ratified the Constitution

2) Then: Georgia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts = early 1788

  1. w/in months = Maryland and South Carolina

4) New Hampshire = (#9) ratified = June 1788.

5) became the new Law of the Land

  1. Hopeful:

  1. The new govt could not hope to succeed, however, w/out the participation of its two largest states: VA and NY.

  2. By the end of June, BOTH ratified by narrow margins.

  3. North Carolina = 1789

  4. Rhode Island = 1790

XIII Adding a Bill of Rights

  1. first Congress

  1. served = as a continuation of the Constitutional Convention


  3. Congress approved 12 amendments on September 25, 1789

  4. 10 of them = ratified in the states by the end of 1791

  5. We know these amendments today as the Bill of Rights!

Section 12 The Constitution Goes To The States Newspapers in every state printed the Constitution as soon as they could get it. What readers found was a plan that would create a “federal” system of government, in which a strong national government shared power with the states. Before long, the entire country was debating the same issues that had kept the convention in session for four long months.

The Federalists Supporters of the Constitution called themselves Federalists. The Federalists argued that the Constitution would create a national government that was strong enough to unite the quarreling states into a single republic.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay led the Federalist campaign for ratification. In a series of newspaper essays, they recalled the weaknesses of the government under the Articles of Confederation. They showed how the Constitution would remedy those weaknesses by creating a stronger, more effective union of the states.

The Federalist leaders also addressed the fears of many Americans that a strong government would threaten their freedom or take away their rights. The powers given to the government, they pointed out, were strictly limited. In addition, those powers were divided among three branches so that no one branch could become too powerful. The influential articles written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were later collected and published as The Federalist Papers [The Federalist Papers: a series of essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay in support of the ratification of the Constitution by the states] .

The Anti-Federalists Opponents of the Constitution were known as Anti-Federalists. They found much to dislike about the new plan. Congress, they feared, would burden the country with taxes. They claimed the president had power enough to rule like a king. The judicial branch, they said, would overpower state courts.

The Anti-Federalists also complained about what was missing from the plan. Their main complaint was that the plan listed the powers of the government but not the rights of the people. Most of all, the Anti-Federalists feared change. The idea of giving up any state power to form a stronger Union made them uneasy.

After listening to the arguments, Madison wrote that the question facing the nation was “whether the Union shall or shall not be continued. There is, in my opinion, no middle ground to be taken.”

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