Aspects of The Founding Of Our Nations Government
The Articles of Confederation were extremely important in the founding of our government today. The Articles gave us a sort of good base to start from, and was ground breaking in the shaping of our new nation.
The Articles of Confederation were written by a Second Continental Congressional committee during the early part of the American Revolution in 1777. A report of the proposed articles was presented to the committee by John Dickson (committee head) just eight days after the signing of the Declaration Of Independence.
The fear of the 13 colonies was to have a powerful central government, as they did in Great Britain. The Articles were changed drastically by the Continental Congress before they were sent in November of 1777 to all the states for ratification. It tool several years for the ratification to be completed by all the states. The Articles were put into play March 1, 1781
The colonists effectively created a central government without sufficient power to govern effectively. Finally a unanimous approval was required to pass Laws at the mercy of the state, the main problem was the governments inability to regulate trade. The states were free from government regulation and could set their own taxes. Taxes on the same goods were different in each state. The inflated taxes, fluctuating from state to state, made interstate commerce very expensive. From all the fluctuation of Taxes and what not, Tariff wars started and tax inflation became too high for trade and brought each state into a hampered economic state.
The colonists had good intentions in drafting the first largely experimental constitution, but its application proved to be too troublesome for many reasons. However, as much as the Articles of Confederation were a failure, so also they were a success in providing a solid base from which all other constitutions have sprung forth, including the current Constitution that has governed us for over 210 years.
On February 21, 1787, the Continental Congress resolved that: …”it is expedient that that on the second Monday in May next, a convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole purpose of revising the articles of Confederation”…The original states except Rhode Island, collectively appointed 70 individuals to the Constitutional Convention, but a number did not accept or could not attend. Those who did not attend included Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. In all 55 delegates attended the Constitutional Convention sessions, but only 39 actually signed the Constitution. The delegates ranged in age from Jonathon Dayton, aged 26, and to Benjamin Franklin at 81 years of age, who was very sick at the time.
The plan of the delegates was to remedy the defects in the Articles of Confederation, but Virginia delegates had a new idea in mid and boldly proposed the Virginia Plan, which introduced a whole new national government instead of the confederation. The New Jersey Plan was also presented as an alternative, but it was based mainly on autonomous states being represented by a single chamber. When bicameral legislation was approved it effectively made the decision for the Virginia Plan, and allowed for the New Jersey Plan to be passed over and defeated.
The principle of separation of powers was a much stronger principle of the new Constitution, than those of the state constitutions. A single figure was to be elected by an electoral collage as our Chief Executive. Representation proportional to each states population in both houses, was proposed by the Virginia Plan. However this was modified and each state was given equal representation in the Senate.
At the Convention there was some controversy about counting slaves for population representation. Finally anti –slavery gave way to a 3/5’s Compromise, which allowed then to be partially counted.
It was thought that the Legislative Branch would be the most powerful in government, but to even out the system the Executive Branch was given the power to Veto, and the Judicial Branch was given a power of review. All the basic powers of a modern and sovereign government were given to Congress. The United States was now a republic and didn’t give any special aristocratic titles of honor.
With the new Constitution the states kept their jurisdiction on civil matters, but the Federal government had much more power on the individual himself in that they could act directly on a citizen regardless of the state authority. We are a new nation under the “United” States, not under the state we lived in.
The new Constitution had great opposition from the Anti-Federalists who were from stronger states, in a better economy and then had no need for such extreme measures as a new Constitution. The Anti- Federalists were sure to point out all the Negative points of the Constitution. However, the Federalists used every communicative advantage they had with the press and better organization overall.
Our founding fathers were of a higher intellectual level and used that to give a very intensive debate in our favor. The Father of our Country, James Madison along with Alexander Hamilton produced an argument through very extensive public literature that appeared in newspapers as The Federalist. The essays they wrote were crafty and well thought out, attacking every point of the Confederations feebleness, and the never forgot to include all the benefits and advantages for every aspect of society. Madison reassured the people greatly and helped them not to believe their interests had been forgotten and that despite what they may say about the balance of powers, he stated that they would not counteract each other.
The delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention were a very distinguished body of men who represented a cross section of 18th- century American leadership. Nearly all of the delegates had experience in colonial and state government, and the majority held county and local offices.
Our Founding Fathers practiced a wide range of occupations, and many of them had more than one career at the same time. Thirty-five were lawyers and benefited from legal training, but not all of them relied on the occupation for a livelihood. Some had also become Judges.
Almost all the delegates were born in the 13 colonies. Only eight were born else where, Four in Ireland, Two in England, One in Scotland, and one in the West Indies. The Founding Fathers educational background was very diverse. Some had obtained instruction from private tutors or at Academies. While, the others like Benjamin Franklin were mainly self taught and had received little or no instruction.
Despite family life and longevity most of the group continued to render outstanding public service, particularly to the new government they had helped to create. And most of the delegates contributed in many ways to their cities, communities, and states. Also many of their sons and other descendants were to occupy high positions in American political life.
Some of the delegates still had a going concern about the civil rights of the people and to make sure that the tyranny of a central government did not overtake them as it did in Britain. They demanded a “bill of rights” that would clearly state the freedoms of the individual citizen, the First Congress of the United States proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that addressed the most frequently brought up concerns. The first 2 amendments addressed the number of representatives in the House and Congress, and these were not ratified. Articles 3 –12 however did pass with ?’s legislation, and they made up the first ten amendments of the Constitution, and also the Bill of Rights. These amendments gave us more power and freedom as a people and we did not fear the all-powerful government as we had in the past. Yet these amendments allowed the common man to rest much easier, and to not worry about not having certain civil rights. The Bill of Rights gave us a new sigh of relief as a people with the birth of our new government and nation not more than 20 years old we were anxious to see all the wonderful things our Founding Fathers had promised us. The incentive of the Bill of Rights was the greatest thing in that it said the word “Freedom”. A word these people had yet to truly experience and had fought so hard for through the American Revolution. Finally this gave them a reward of sorts, that was actually more tangible than this big new government, this was for the people and they saw that these freedoms were specifically for them.
It all started with the Articles of Confederation, it founded our new government, and laid the base for all things to come. It truly paved the way , and gave us hope as a new nation, and was extremely important in the founding of our government today. All of these aspects I have talked about in my paper helped mold our government, and make it the most powerful and sought after today. We set the example, people look at our government with honor and respect, and for them to fully ascertain they must gain a full knowledge of how it began, to comprehend the greatness as it is today.