The Articles of Confederation



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The Articles of Confederation
Towards the end of the Revolutionary War the Americans realized that they had to create some kind of government. A government controls laws, taxes, the economy, the military and many other things.

Many of the colonists feared a strong central government, because of the king. The first government they made, based on the Articles of Confederation (1781), gave the central government very little power, and each of the states much power.



Problems

Since each state could make up its own rules, the new country was really like 13 different little countries. Each state had its own laws and each state had their own currency (money). This made it very hard to sell goods from state to state because each state’s money was worth different amounts. For example, $1 in New York might be worth $5 in South Carolina.

States began to compete with each other economically and began charging taxes on each other’s goods. For example, if a farmer from North Carolina was selling corn to someone in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania would make the seller from Virginia pay taxes so that his corn was too expensive to sell in Pennsylvania, and the buyer in Pennsylvania would have to buy his corn from someone in Pennsylvania at a higher price.
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT TOO WEAK!!

STATES HAD TOO MUCH POWER!!


The U.S. Constitution
In 1787 the people of the new nation, the United States of America realized that they needed to change the Articles of Confederation, or else the different states would destroy each other. Eventually, they would not just change the Articles of Confederation, they would totally get rid of them and create the US Constitution.

The US Constitution is what our central, or federal government is based on. It created the 3 different branches of government:

The Legislative- Pass the laws

The Executive- Enforces the laws

The Judicial- Makes sure the laws are Constitutional

The Legislative Branch

The writers of the US constitution tired to compromise to make sure that all states had equal amounts of power. Their first big problem was between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey plan.

The Virginia Plan said that the legislative branch should give the most power to the bigger states(Most populated).

The New Jersey Plan said that big and little states should have the same amount of power.

What happened next was the GREAT COMPROMISE. It created a bicameral legislative branch, which means a two house legislature. One house, the House of Representatives gave the big states power. A large state got to put more representatives in., a smaller state had to put in less.

The second house of legislature made all states equal. Each state put in 2 senators a piece.


1.) Give two reasons for the Articles of Confederation failing.
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2.) What was the difference between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan?
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3.) Do you think that the Great Compromise is fair?
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Federalists vs. Antifederalists
The next problem with writing the Constitution dealt with people that wanted a strong central government (Federalists) and those that did not (Antifederalists). The people in the Antifederalist states said that they would not ratify (agree) to the Constitution without a Bill of Rights to protect them from the government.

There was another compromise and the Federalists agreed to a Bill of Rights. THE BILL OF RIGHTS ARE THE FIRST 10 AMMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. THEY GIVE LIMITS TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THEY MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.



Amendments


  • First Amendment – Freedom of religion, speech, press, and peaceful assembly as well as the right to petition the government.

  • Second Amendment – Right to own a gun in case America is attacked

  • Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

  • Fifth Amendment – Due process, you get a lawyer, you can’t be tried for the same crime twice and you don’t have to tell on yourself.



  • Sixth Amendment – Speedy trial by jury for crimes.

  • Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.

  • Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically put in the Bill of Rights.

  • Tenth Amendment – Any power not given to the federal government in the Constitution goes to the states.

1.) Whose idea for government do you like better- the Federalists or Anti-Federalists?
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2.) Which right do you think is the most important, why?
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