University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
About the United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States created the form of government known as federalism. The national and state governments each have specific powers and functions, while also sharing some of the same powers. The Constitution made the agreement that any laws passed under the constitution would be the supreme law of the land. Three separate branches were created; the legislative, executive, and judicial. **********The new Constitution resolved the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation to the extent that it created a new system of government that was equipped with the necessary powers needed to implement changes through compromises, the passing of laws, and the levying of taxes. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, delegates met in Philadelphia to discuss the difficult problems the new nation faced. The Framers decided that in order to facilitate change within the nation, the Articles of Confederation needed to be replaced with a new plan for government that would give the federal government more power to implement the changes necessary for the progression of the nation.
The next step was to devise a plan for the government that would be accepted by the people of the nation. A series of compromises, known as the Three-Fifths Compromise, and the Great Compromise, were created. The Virginia Plan, created by James Madison, included an executive branch, courts, and a bicameral legislature where representation in each house of Congress would be based on each state’s population. This plan enticed delegates from heavily populated states such as, New York; however, the small states feared a government subjugated by the large states would give them no say. The New Jersey Plan, devised by delegates from the smaller states, included a unicameral legislature in which states would have equal representation. Within this plan, Congress had the power to set taxes and regulate trade, which were powers it did not have under the Articles of Confederation. The New Jersey Plan was not accepted because ******larger states thought they should have more power. After six rigorous weeks, *the delegates came to a compromise later known as the Great Compromise. The compromise proposed that Congress have two houses, a Senate and a House of Representatives, in which the Senate granted equal representation and the House granted representation based on population. In the Articles of Confederation, there was only *one vote per state.
To pass laws, nine out of the thirteen colonies had to be in favor of it and to make amendments; all thirteen colonies had to be in favor of the idea. The Great Compromise included that two thirds of the Senate and the House had to agree on a law or an amendment for it to be passed which was much easier. The compromise pleased both groups, but they were not completely satisfied. The Great Compromise directly dealt with the weaknesses within the Articles of Confederation and for this reason it gained popularity. The Three-Fifths Compromise came about after the Great Compromise which answered some of the remaining questions such as, who could vote. The compromise stated that every five enslaved persons counted for three free persons therefore, three-fifths of the slave population in each state would be used in determining representation in Congress. Americans were not all in favor of the Constitution at first, they were known as Anti-Federalists. They thought that the document would take away their liberties that Americans had fought hard to win from Great Britain. Their main argument was the new Constitution would create a strong, federal government and ignore the states and it lacked a bill of rights to protect individual freedoms. Those who were supporters of the document called themselves Federalists. They believed the Constitution would create a system of federalism, a form of government in which power is divided between the federal government and the states.
The Federalist Papers, written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, was what won the Anti-Federalist’s support of the document. In a series of essays, they argued that the United States wouldn’t survive without a strong federal government and reassured the document would protect their nation. Both the Anti-Federalists and the Federalists came to the conclusion that if the Constitution was adopted, the new government would add a bill of rights. The Constitution was completely ratified in 1790 which made the thirteen independent states a united nation, The United States of America. The new Constitution created a framework for the government, which was the something the Articles of Confederation lacked. Three branches within the legislative were created to make sure the federal government would stay stable. Each branch had specific powers while also having the ability to check the powers of the other two branches. The legislative branch, also known as Congress, made the laws. The executive branch enforced the laws and is headed by a president and vice president.
The judicial system was created in which the supreme court of the U.S would have the final say as to the constitutionality of laws. In order to avoid one of the branches from gaining too much power, the Framers included a system of checks and balances. This system allowed each branch of government to limit the power of the others. Therefore, the new Constitution resolved the weaknesses of the articles of confederation to the extent that it created a new system of government that was equipped with the necessary powers needed to implement changes through compromises, the passing of laws, and the levying of taxes. The government was able to tax and secure individual freedoms. The thirteen independent states became one nation, The United States of America. Although, not all of the problems of the Articles of Confederation were resolved, the new Constitution created a foundation for our government today.