The Constitution: Creating the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Northwest States
The Battle of Yorktown took place on the Yorktown Peninsula. Cornwallis had ignored an order to go to New York and went to the Yorktown Pennisula instead. Washington's army follwed and trapped them from escaping by land. A fleet of French ships sailed to the ocean surrounding it and trapped them by sea. The British army had no way to escape and were forced to surrender. This battle ended the American Revolution with an American victory.
The first constitution was approved in 1777 and was what was called the Articles of Confederation. It was a loose alliance of the 13 states. This form of government was created in attempt to limit Congress's power. The downside was that this form of government was weak and had many issues. There were also many problems that had not been addressed.
The Constitutional Convention
Get rid of the Articles of Confederation!!
Five new states were added to the Northwest and they were Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The requirement to become a state was that an area needed a population of 60,000 free people. Then they needed Congress to approve them and recognize them as a state. This process was called the Northwest Ordinance.
Signing the New Constitution
After the war, the states fell into a depression. Farmers suffered the most because farm products weren't needed as much. This resulted in the farmers losing money, so they couldn't pay off debts or high taxes placed on them by courts. Farmers in Massachusetts were really struggling and ended up forming an uprising. It was led by Daniel Shay, and they attacked the courthouses. The angry farmers were driven off by militia.
The convention was held on May 25, 1787 in Philadelphia. Every state except Rhode Island sent a representative. The convention was planned to discuss how they were going to revise the Articles of Confederation. The Virginia Plan was composed of the following 3 branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legislative had 2 houses and seats were based on population, so larger states had more representatives. The New Jersey Plan still had the 3 branches, but the legislature had 1 house and each state got 1 vote. This made it more fair for the smaller states.
I want the Virginia Plan!!
We need to compromise!
I want the New Jersey Plan!!
In the end, the plans were merged together. The legislature would have 2 houses. The lower house, the House of Representatives, was supposed to make larger states happy. Members were elected by popular vote, and seats were given based on population. The upper house, the Senate, was supposed to make smaller states happy. Members were chosen by state legislatures, and each state got 2 senates. The Northern and Southern states also had to compromise with the slave trade issue. The constitution was ready to be signed on September 17, 1787. It needed 9 states to approve it.