The United States Constitution was written and signed in 1787 in the midst of the Philadelphia Convention, was being overseen by none other than George Washington. Had it not been for the Constitution the national government we have today would never been known for what it is today. The Constitution was developed to protect citizens, and guarantee they are to be given a basic set of rights. The old Congress set the rules the new government followed in terms of writing and ratifying the new constitution. Representatives from the state had gathered and developed a plan for a stronger federal government that included three branches. Along with the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches there was also a method of checks and balances which ensured that no one branch had more power than the other.
Forming a More Perfect Union
The first constitution that was known to America was called the Articles of Confederation. It was then ratified in 1781. This was a time when America was known as a nothing more than a few states, many of which operated somewhat like an independent nation. The Articles of Confederation granted the Congress of the Confederation the power to govern things such as, foreign affairs, the regulation of currency and war. While these powers seemed powerful, they were surprisingly restrictive due to Congress being unable to enforce such requests to said states for the soldier’s necessities.
America emerged victoriously from Great Britain and established their independence in the American Revolution in 1783. It was then when a need for stronger sense of government was sought. A lawyer, and politician named Alexander Hamilton requested a constitution convention to address issues. In February 1787, the Confederation Congress supported the idea and invited all 13 states to send representatives to Philadelphia for an assembly.
Debating the Constitution
Three months later, the Constitutional Convention opened at the Pennsylvania State house in Philadelphia, the same location the Declaration of Independence was signed almost a decade before. Fifty five representatives, mostly farmers, merchants, and lawyers many of which had served in the Continental Army, colonial legislatures or the Continental Congress were among the guests. They represented all the thirteen states with Rhode Island as the hold out. This was because they opposed the idea of a powerful central government for fear it would dampen economic growth. As far as religious association most were Protestants. Out of the fifty five representatives, eight had signed the Declaration of Independence and sic had signed the Articles of the Confederation.
At this time Benjamin Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, was the oldest of the representatives at 81, while the others were in their thirties and forties. Due to the conventions sessions being kept secret, reporters and others interested in the developments were banned. Although James Madison of Virginia kept detailed records of what was going on. The representatives has been assigned the task of amending the Articles of the Confederation by the Congress. Soon after deliberation began plans for a different type of government evolved. After a long detailed debate that went into the summer of 1787 was at times threatened with derailment a plan emerged that clearly laid out three different national branches of government, known as the legislative and judicial branches. The specific powers and responsibilities of each branch were also made abundantly clear. A system known as checks and balances was put into place ensuring that no single branch would have too much authority.
There were some more argumentative issues, one of which was the question of how the states were to be represented in the national legislature. Representatives from the larger states wanted the population of said state to determine how much representation a state could then send to Congress. The smatter states