American History

American History

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  • Hey dad, in history class today we were learning about the Constitutional Convention, but I still don't understand why we had it in the first place.
  • Well it all started when the 13 colonies wanted to be free from the British rule. On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson, along with a few other men, wrote the Declaration of Independence in order to state that the 13 colonies wanted that freedom.
  • I remember my teacher said that they were fixing something when they had the Constitutional Convention, is that true. 
  • Ooooooh, but wait, I still don't know why they had the Constitutional Convention. 
  • Well, you see, on March 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation were written. That was the first actual written Consitution.  
  • Of course! The Constitutional Convention was called because there was a weak central government under the Articles of Confederation. If they didn’t fix this issue, then the 13 colonies wouldn’t do so well. 
  • Ok, it makes more sense when you tell it. 
  • Sure!
  • Wanna hear more? 
  • Ok, well once the Constitutional convention was called, many men were trying to help by creating new ideas and new ways to ratify the Articles. One man named William Patterson created the New Jersey plan which called for a unicameral legislature and a strong central government with 3 branches. These three branches were created to ensure the separation of powers so that no one got too much power.
  • Wow, there were a lot of new plans. What were the three different branches of government? If they were so popular during the Constitutional Convention they must have been important
  • And then on May 29 in 1787, James Madison presented the idea of the Virginia plan which also favored the idea of a strong central government with 3 branches. Although, instead of a unicameral legislature, this idea wanted a bicameral legislature.
  • What did they do?
  • The legislative created laws, the executive carried out laws, and the judicial interpreted the laws. 
  • They were important. The 3 branches are the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches.
  • Wow! They each had their own responsibilities?
  • Why did they do that?
  • Dang, they really made sure that this plan was flawless. What was the great compromise?
  • Yup! And once the Great Compromise was created, each branch also the responsibility called checks and balances. This meant that each branch had to the power to veto or amend acts of another branch. 
  • They did this so that one branch didn’t get too powerful. 
  • The great compromise was the final agreement, which resulted in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Then the Bill of Rights was created to limit the governmental power over the people and to state the formal rights of the people. There was a group called the Federalists who didn’t want the Bill of Rights, and there was a group called the Anti-federalists who did want it. 
  • During all this time states were trying to figure out how they were going to be represented. The bigger states wanted representation by the population because they had plenty of people. Bu the small states would have fallen if that was the case, so they wanted equal representation between all states. Once they all agreed on representation, the ⅗ compromise was made. It counted each slave as ⅗ of a person as a part of the population to determine representation and taxation by the Federal government. After a long while, the Constitution was finally ratified.
  • Well, I understand it all much better now, thanks dad!
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