We know that a constitution is a plan of government. England had an unwritten constitution. Give 2 reasons why Americans wanted a written constitution.
A written constitution would spell out the rights of all citizens.
It would set limits on the power of governments.
Where did the Americans get some of their ideas to make a new plan of government?
States followed the basic form of their old colonial charters which were based on English laws.
Not only does our nation have a plan of government that covers every state in the U.S., but each state has its own constitution. Every state divided the power to run the state between a legislature and an executive.
What does the legislature in each state do? Make laws
Who is the executive in each state? governor
What is a “bill of rights”? a part of the constitution that lists freedoms that the government has to protect
Which state was the first state to add a “bill of rights” to its state constitution? Virginia
What were the requirements to vote in every state? a male over the age of 21; own a certain amount of property or pay a certain amount of taxes (free blacks could in few states) New Jersey allowed women to vote.
What group drew up the constitution for the entire U.S.? Continental Congress
What made it so difficult to draw up a plan of government that would include every state in the U.S.?
Unwilling to turn over power to the national government and few Americans thought of themselves as citizens of one nation. Loyal to their own state
According to the Articles of Confederation, there would be a legislative branch (Congress) to make laws for the country. Read and answer the following questions about the Articles of Confederation:
Each state had how many votes in Congress? one
How many states had to approve of a law before it could go into effect? 9 out of 13
Could Congress control (regulate) trade between states or between states & foreign countries? no
Could Congress pass any laws about taxes? no
Could Congress declare war? yes
Could Congress appoint military officers? yes
Could Congress coin money (print money)? no
Did this plan of government set up the office of President? no
Could each state print its own money? yes
How many states had to approve the Articles of Confederation before it went into effect? 13
In 1781, the Americans were planning a victory against England in the American Revolution. They planned for their boundary to stretch west to the Mississippi River. Maryland, a small state, refused to approve of the Articles unless what happened? All lands between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains were turned over to Congress.
What neighboring state once claimed all of Kentucky? Virginia
Did the big states give up their claims to the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River? Yes THINK! When that happened, who then owned the land? The nation
What did Spain do after the war to anger the Americans? It closed its port in New Orleans to American farmers in the western lands.
After the war, Americans had problems with money. What makes paper money valuable? It is valuable, if it is backed by reserves such as gold or silver or by confidence in the government.
Why was money made by the Continental Congress worthless? They didn’t have any gold or silver backing.
The U.S. Congress under the Articles of Confederation did pass two good laws concerning western land. (The purpose of these acts was to help get the western land settled.) The Northwest Ordinance, 1787, was very important. What did this law say?
Allowed the region to be divided into separate territories
Once it had a population of 60,000 free citizens, it could ask Congress to be admitted as a state.
Guaranteed new states would be treated just the same as the original 13
What five states were later created out of the Northwest Territory? Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin
Shays’ Rebellion would lead to the downfall of the Articles of Confederation. What happened during Shays’ Rebellion (tell it in your own words)? Farmers borrowed money fro land, seed, animals, and tools. After the war, there was an economic depression. Farmers were hit hard. Massachusetts raised taxes. Courts threatened to seize farms of those who didn’t pay. Captain Shays gathered 1,000 angry farmers. They attacked courthouses and tried to take warehouses full of rifles and gunpowder.
Who finally put an end to Shays’ Rebellion? Massachusetts
Why did leaders of several states call for a meeting in Philadelphia, PA in May 1781? Shays’ rebellion was a sign that the Articles of Confederation were not working. Leaders wanted to meet to discuss ways of reforming the Articles.