1.) Discuss the Articles of Confederation: how did they come about? Was the government under the Articles of Confederation an outright failure or were they just not adequate for the challenges the young nation faced? Why or why not? Explain the circumstances of the event that prompted a heightened awareness of the Articles’ shortcomings and led to the events at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.
The Articles of Confederation was the first document to explain the terms of a national government. It reserved substantial powers for the states and granted sovereignty, freedom, and independence. It was established in 1777 by congress. “Its powers included conducting foreign relations, mediating interstate disputes, controlling maritime affairs, regulating Indian trade, and valuing state and national coinage” page 168. Eventually, the Confederation Congress wanted to revise the Articles of confederation, and in May of 1787, 55 men who represented each state except for Rhode Island, met in Philadelphia. “Most delegates to the Constitutional Convention were substantial men of property. They wanted to give the national government new authority over taxation and foreign commerce, but also sought to advance their states’ interests” page 173.
2.) We want to give ample treatment to the Constitution. What role did James Madison play – why were his contributions to the development to the document critical (and what were these contributions)?
James Madison was known as the “Father of the Constitution”. He was elected President of the United States in 1808. He was one of the dozen men that really put in a lot of work during the convention. He graduated form Princeton and was raised in West Virginia. He was good friends with Thomas Jefferson and kept up with national politics. “To prepare for the Philadelphia meeting, Madison bought more than two hundred books on history and government, analyzing their accounts of past confederacies and republics” page 174. He also wrote a paper, “Vices of the Political System of the United States”, which revealed his belief that the government be constructed so that it could not become tyrannical. He also influenced the development of the Virginia and New Jersey Plans.
3.) What was the importance of compromise in formulating the Constitution? Describe the significant compromises that occurred in Philadelphia; give details.
“Political stability would result from compromises among the contending parties” page 174. The Virginia Plan was brought about on May 29 by Edmund Randolph. It showed Madison’s conception of national government. The Virginia Plan was aiming towards national consolidation and provided for a two-house legislature. The lower house would be elected by the people, and the upper house by Congress. Representation in both houses was proportional to property or population. Many delegates in smaller states disagreed with the Virginia Plan and came up with an alternative to it which is known as the New Jersey Plan. The New Jersey Plan called for strengthening the Articles rather than