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Creating and Ratifying the Constitution


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Foreign policy problems as a result of the Articles of Confederation
Britain closed ports in a trade war; threats by Spain to close the Mississippi; pirates in the Mediterranean captured American ships.
Domestic problems as a result of the Articles of Confederation
Devaluation of colonial currency led to inability of financial interests to collect debts.
Shays's Rebellion
An armed insurrection by debt-ridden farmers to prevent county courts from foreclosing mortgages on their farms in 1786-87, led by Captain Daniel Shays.
Response to Shays's Rebellion
The Continental Congress asked the states for funds to raise an army; the states refused. The army was never assembled.
Constitutional Convention
Convened in 1787 to propose limited reforms to the Articles of Confederation. Instead, however, the Articles would be replaced by a new, far more powerful national government.
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention
Well-educated property owners.
James Madison
The Constitutional Convention's chief strategist.
George Washington
Commanding officer of the American revolutionaries.
Benjamin Franklin
A printer, scientist, inventor, postmaster, philosopher, and diplomat.
The Federalist Papers
The series of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison; they make a strong legal case for the ratification of the Constitution.
Political equality
In the eyes of James Madison, encompassed only the right to express oneself, not necessarily to accumulate wealth.
Republic
A state in which elected representatives act for the people.
Factions
James Madison’s term for groups that pursue their self-interest or individual preferences above the public good.
Constitution
A system of fundamental laws and principles that prescribe the structure and functions of the government.
May 25, 1787
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention first met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Reason for drafting a new Constitution
In order to create a national government superior to and independent of the states.
Three divides among the states
Large vs. small, cosmopolitan vs. parochial, and slavery.
The Virginia Plan
A bicameral legislature, with seats allotted to both Houses according to state population.
Bicameral legislature
Two-chamber legislature
The New Jersey Plan
Enhanced the federal government's powers to levy taxes and regulate commerce. Featured equal representation of the States in a unicameral legislature.
The Connecticut Compromise (Great Compromise)
Featured the bicameral legislature and featured elements of both the Virginia and New Jersey Plans. The House's seats are allotted in proportion to state populations; every State elects two Senators.
The Three Fifths Clause
The clause in the Constitution that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of state representation.
September 15, 1787
Signing of the Constitution.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, ratified in 1791, that delineate civil liberties to which every US citizen is entitled.
Federalists
Advocates of the national political system in the U.S.
Newspapers
Overwhelmingly supported the Federalist cause because of their interest in establishing a national system to facilitate trade and commerce.
Authors of the Federalist Papers
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison