Chapter 5 notes from Confederation to Nation Section 1 New State Governments



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CHAPTER 5 NOTES

From Confederation to Nation

Section 1


New State Governments

  1. States Create Governments and Constitutions

  1. Following Old Patterns

  • new states were strongly influenced by their past

  • the new states already had governments operating since the provincial assemblies continued to meet after the war began

  • main desire was to change certain features of the old colonial governments, so they could never become tyrannical

  • government derives “their just powers from the consent of the governed



  1. Ways of Constitution Making

  • in most states the existing assemblies drew up the constitutions

  • Concord, MA., wanted a separate assembly to draw up constitution

-believed that if regular legislature made constitution, it make it easy for them to challenge it in the future

-Massachusetts first constitution was rejected b/c they did not listen to Concord

  • all of the new state constitutions were written

-Americans believed their rights would be safer if they were written for all to see and remember


  1. The New Constitutions

  • all began with a brief declaration of independence, followed by a statement of their rights

  • Most states had a governor (all but one), and all but Pennsylvania had a two-house legislature

  • All colonies attempted to weaken the powers of the governor




  1. Equality For All

  1. Equality in the States

  • although it was stated that “all men are created equal”, there were many ways that this was untrue in the new nation

  • in every colony a man had to own property or have a certain income in order to vote

-women were not allowed to vote or hold office

-slaves did not even have civil rights


  1. Movement against Slavery

  • 1774- Rhode Island passed a law free all slaves in that state

  • Continental Congress passed law that no slaves were to be imported after 12/1/1775

  • 1783- slave sues for freedom in Massachusetts and wins; this ends slavery in that state

  • Virginia and North Carolina pass laws that allowed owners to free their slaves



Section 2


The Continental Congress

  • Illegal Assembly

-2nd Continental Congress assumed all powers of government at the start of the Revolution

  • Young Congressman

-most members were just over 40 years of age

-of the 56 members, 25 were lawyers, 8 were merchants, 6 were doctors, and 5 were farmers

  • Successes and Failures

1) Successes of Congress

-established the army, navy, and marines

-appointed George Washington as leader of the army

-kept army supplied

  1. Failures

-greatest failure was financing the war

-congress could not tax the states and when they asked for money many states would not contribute

Section 3


-A Weak Confederation
  1. The States and Congress


  • congress had to cope with the jealousy of states

  • states wanted a new government strong enough to serve them but not so potent that it might dominate them

  • announced a “perpetual union” of the states and a “firm league of friendship”. Preserved for each state “its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power and jurisdiction and right”

  • each state had just one vote in congress




  1. The Powers of Congress

  • congress given sole power to deal w/ foreign nations, to settle disputes between the states, to decide admiralty cases, to declare war, and to make peace, ran postal system, and control currency

  • could coin money, run the postal service, establish weights and measures, and trade with the Indians outside the states

  • many people feared that the congress would become to powerful

-congress actually had no way of enforcing its decisions, except for begging and pleading


  1. Western Lands

  1. Small States vs. Large States

  • small states were concerned w/ the vast land that large states claimed in the west

  • small states refused to agree to a general government until the large states gave up claims

-concerned that land rich states would be able to pay their war debts and day-to-day cost through sales of western lands

-would allow land rich states to keep taxes low

  • land poor state (small states) wanted congress in control of western lands

  • 1781-Virginia agrees to cede its lands to congress, and eventually Maryland agrees and Articles of the Confederation is signed by all

  1. West becomes the treasury of the U.S.

  • congress sold the land to raise money for the Revolution

  • Land Ordinance of 1785 – provided that the land be carefully surveyed into townships

  1. Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (Thomas Jefferson’s idea)

  • an add-a-state plan

  • every part of the “public domain” would become a state of the Union

  • 5000 adult free men = a legislature to make laws; 60,000 free men = application for statehood

  • ordinance provided that each of the new states should be very big b/c they thought the land was so poor

  • New Englanders settle along the Ohio River

-the Ohio Company settle in Ohio and name the first settlement Marietta

-Indians raided small parties who attempted to go off and settle alone


  1. Successes and Failures of the Confederation

1) Successes

  • charting the vast western domain was the greatest domestic achievement

  • bringing the Revolution to an end was the greatest military achievement

  • the peace treaty with England was the greatest foreign policy achievement

  1. Failures

  • U.S. was not taken seriously abroad

-England would not grant a commercial treaty

-France did not take the confederation seriously

  • experienced diplomatic problems out west

-G.B. held on to fur trading post in the northwest

-Spain hoped to coop up the lands beyond the Appalachians

-Spain closed mouth of the Miss. River in an attempt to force western settlers into joining the empire

  1. Great Depression

  • end of the war brought a financial depression

  • began to import from England

-bought more than they could pay for

  • each state issued their own paper money

-no one knew how much each others money was worth compared to others

-paper money was refused and people hoarded gold


  1. Shay’s Rebellion

  • during and right after the war many farmers went into debt to improve their farms, or by more land

  • the depression meant that they could only sell their crops at very low prices

  • farmers were unable to pay off debts, and many were taken to court

  • Daniel Shay leads a rebellion around Massachusetts

-demanded more paper money, tax relief, relief for debtors, and an end to imprisonment for debts

-Shay and his followers are eventually captured



Section 4


-Writing a Nation’s Constitution

-before independence the colonies could not live w/ a strong central government, now as states they could not live w/o one

  1. The Annapolis Meeting (1786)

  • meeting, requested by Virginia, to discuss the regulation of commerce

  • only 12 men (representing five states) came to the meeting

  • Alexander Hamilton, one of the 12 reps at the meeting, thought that the nation would never prosper until they formed a strong union; demanded that all 13 states send delegates to a larger meeting

  1. The Philadelphia Convention

  • states responded to Hamilton’s call

-55 delegates representing 12 states met at Independence Hall in the summer of 1787

-Rhode Island ignored the convention

- objective was to remodel the Articles of Confederation

  1. Federal vs. National

  • a federal union in those days meant a group of sovereign states which made treaties with one another to work together

  • they needed a national union in order to do the job they needed to do; they needed a union similar to France and England

  • to make this possible each of the sovereign states would have to give up some of it “sovereign” powers

  1. Need to Compromise

  • the 13 states were all very different

  • what prevailed in 1787 was the practical spirit of compromise

  • no one knows what was actually said during the convention, but we do know what came from it and that is the Constitution which we live under today

  • The Great Compromise

  • dealt with the matter of representation

  • finally decided to have two houses; one house w/ equal amount of representatives from each state (Senate), and one house w/ number of representatives based on population of state (House of Reps)

  • 3/5 Compromise and the Commercial Compromise

  • 3/5 of the number of slaves would be counted both for representation in congress and for levying taxes



  1. Partly National and Partly Federal

  • to satisfy the “national” supporters, the government was given the power to tax, to control commerce, to make war, to build military, and to conduct foreign affairs

  • to satisfy the ”federal” supporters, the constitution gave each state the power to make laws to control daily life and all the powers not expressly given to the central government

  • the central government was referred to as the United States

  • had three separate branches with its own special duties and powers

-Executive, judicial, and legislative

  • Executive Branch

-Commander-in-chief of armed forces

-power to negotiate treaties

-could appoint officials (some had to be approved by Senate)

  • Legislative Branch

-each house given special powers

-House had power to initiate bills for raising revenue

-Senate could approve treaties and certain appointments

  • Judicial Branch

-created to hear all cases raised under the constitution and the laws of the U.S.


Section 5


-The States Ratify

  1. Bypassing the States

  • convention submitted Constitution to congress and asked for it to be sent to state conventions for approval

  • needed the approval of 9 of the thirteen states

-meant to keep a few from sabotaging the work of the cooperative many

  1. The Fight for Approval

-great public interest in what the Constitution said since the convention did its work in secret

  • Federalist = those who supported the constitution

  • Anti-Federalist = those who opposed

-feared that the new constitution would create a super-government

  • hard work and political tricks by the Federalist brought about ratification

-Delaware first state to ratify (by unanimous vote)

-Pennsylvania Federalist rushed through approval by buying up newspapers so that the Anti-federalist could not be heard

-New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut quickly followed

-Massachusetts becomes key state

-Anti-federalist seem to have majority

-Federalist made promises to John Hancock to swing his vote

-Hancock suggested amendments to protect citizen’s rights

-South Carolina and New Hampshire also ratify with suggested amendments

-Virginia and New York seal victory

-nine states had already ratified constitution, but the new government could not exist w/o Virginia and New York

-Washington’s support pushed constitution through by narrow margin in Virginia

-Federalist Papers, essay of why freedom-loving people needed a strong central government, helped ratify constitution in New York

-North Carolina and Rhode Island finally ratify after constitution was in operation

-Federalist promise to add Bill of Rights

  1. A Government in Skeleton

  • constitution merely provided a skeleton for a government

  • it was up to the first President, Congress, and Supreme Court to add the flesh to the government

  • Why has the Constitution survived?

-shortness of the document allowed for flexibility in adding to it and applying it


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