Constitution signed

VUS.5 The Critical Period - Two Attempts at Democracy

  • Articles of Confederation (VUS.5a)

    Articles of Confederation (VUS.5a)
    Fearing a strong central government like that of England, the new nation created the weakest possible government, believing this would protect the rights of the states as well as the liberties of the people. With no power to tax, regulate trade, no courts or executive, this government was simply too weak to handle the needs of the united States of America. This was a dangerous time! MORE
  • Period: to

    The Critical Period; Two Attempts at Democracy

    During this period, America needed two attempts to create a government based on democracy - a lasting government was found!
  • Constitutional Convention Called (VUS.5a)

    Constitutional Convention Called (VUS.5a)
    Originally, they wanted to fix the problems with the Articles of Confederation – but it was evident that we needed to start from scratch and create a new government. 55 men from 12 of the states (not Rhode Island) met at the Philadelphia Convention. George Washington was chosen to be the presiding officer of the Convention. MORE
  • The Virginia Plan introduced (VUS.5b)

    The Virginia Plan introduced (VUS.5b)
    Authored by James Madison – THE FATHER OF THE CONSTITUTION – this plan offered three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial), with power in the legislature based on population in the states. This would grant greater representation to the larger states. Ultimately, much of this plan would be used in the final draft of the Constitution. MORE
  • The New Jersey Plan introduced (VUS.5b)

    The New Jersey Plan introduced (VUS.5b)
    In opposition to the Virginia Plan, this plan would be more like the Articles of Confederation. Still having the three branches, this plan would have all states equal regardless of population. This appealed to the smaller states who felt that they should be equal to the larger states. The showdown was on! MORE
  • Northwest Ordinance (VUS.8a)

    Northwest Ordinance (VUS.8a)
    About the only good thing to come from the government under the Articles of Confederation was this law. It established several things, but perhaps most importantly was the method for new states to enter the union on equal footing as the original 13. MORE
  • Constitution through Compromises (VUS.5b)

    Constitution through Compromises (VUS.5b)
    Known as the “Great Compromise”, the state representation issue was solved. In Congress, there would be a lower house with representation based on population (The House of Representatives) and an upper house (The US Senate) with representation equal amongst the states. Other compromises soon followed… MORE
  • Constitution is Signed (VUS.5b)

    Constitution is Signed (VUS.5b)
    42 of the 55 delegates met to sign their work. Through debate and compromise, they produced a document that reflected principles of federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, and a method to add amendments (just in case their plan needed to be improved). Copies were made and sent to the states for ratification – it would take 9 of the 13 states to make the new government official! MORE
  • Ratification Process (VUS.5d)

    Ratification Process (VUS.5d)
    Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution – but the battle was heating up. The biggest of these fights would be in Virginia and New York as the FEDERALISTS (those supporting the Constitution) and the ANTI-FEDERALISTS) (those opposed to the Constitution) debated the issues.
  • Ratification and First Elections (vus.5d)

    Ratification and First Elections (vus.5d)
    The ninth state to ratify, New Hampshire, made the document official. Elections were held over the next several months for the House, the Senate, and the Electoral College which unanimously selected George Washington to serve as the First President under the new government! MORE
  • New Government Inaugurated (VUS.5d)

    New Government Inaugurated (VUS.5d)
    George Washington took the oath of office and thus began the government which is still in effect today. However, the Federalists still needed to keep their promise, to add a Bill of Rights to the Constitution. MORE
  • Bill of Rights Passes in Congress (VUS.5c)

    Bill of Rights Passes in Congress (VUS.5c)
    Authored primarily by James Madison of Virginia, and greatly influenced by George Mason’s “Virginia Declaration of Rights” and Thomas Jefferson’s “Statute for Religious Freedom” – the essential liberties that would eventually become our Bill of Rights was passed through Congress. MORE
  • Bill of Rights is Ratified (VUS.5c)

    Bill of Rights is Ratified (VUS.5c)
    Ten of the twelve amendments sent to the states were rativied by the required 2/3 of the states and became part of our Government - The Bill of Rights was official! MORE