Chapter Study Outline

  1. [Introduction: Ratification Celebrations]
  2. America under the Confederation
    1. The Articles of Confederation
      1. The first written constitution of the United States
        1. One-house Congress
        2. No president
        3. No judiciary
      2. The only powers granted to the national government were those for declaring war, conducting foreign affairs, and making treaties.
    2. Congress, Settlers, and the West
      1. Congress established national control over land to the west of the thirteen states and devised rules for its settlement.
      2. In the immediate aftermath of independence, Congress took the position that by aiding the British, Indians had forfeited the right to their lands.
      3. Congress faced conflicting pressures from settlers and land speculators regarding western development.
      4. Peace brought rapid settlement into frontier areas.
      5. Leaders feared unregulated flow of settlement across the Appalachian Mountains could provoke constant warfare with the Indians.
    3. The Land Ordinances
      1. The Ordinance of 1784 established stages of self-government for the West.
      2. The Ordinance of 1785 regulated land sales in the region north of the Ohio River and established the township system there.
      3. Like the British before them, American officials found it difficult to regulate the thirst for new land.
      4. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established policy that admitted the area's population as equal members of the political system.
    4. The Confederation's Weaknesses
      1. The war created an economic crisis that the Confederation government could not adequately address.
      2. With Congress unable to act, the states adopted their own economic policies.
    5. Shays's Rebellion
      1. Facing seizure of their land, debt-ridden farmers closed the courts in western Massachusetts.
        1. They modeled their protests on those of the Revolutionary era, using liberty trees.
      2. Shays's Rebellion convinced many of the need for a stronger central government to protect property rights (a form of private liberty) from too much power in the hands of the people.
    6. Nationalists of the 1780s
      1. Nation builders like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton called for increased national authority.
      2. The concerns voiced by critics of the Articles found a sympathetic hearing among men who had developed a national consciousness during the Revolution.
      3. At a meeting in Annapolis (September 1786), delegates called for a convention to amend the Articles of Confederation in order to avoid anarchy and monarchy.
  3. A New Constitution
    1. The Structure of Government
      1. Prominent wealthy and well-educated men took part in the Constitutional Convention.
      2. Delegates quickly agreed the Constitution would create a legislature, an executive, and a national judiciary.
      3. The key to stable, effective republican government was finding a way to balance the competing claims of liberty and power.
      4. A compromise over the shape of Congress emerged from debates over the Virginia and New Jersey Plans.
        1. Virginia Plan (favored by more populous states): two-house legislature where state's population determined representation in both houses
        2. New Jersey Plan (favored by smaller states): one-house legislature in which each state cast one vote
        3. Compromise: two-house Congress consisting of Senate (each state had two members) and House of Representatives (apportioned according to states' populations)
    2. The Limits of Democracy
      1. The Constitution left the determination of voter qualifications to the states.
      2. The new government was based on a limited democracy.
      3. Federal judges would be appointed by the president.
      4. The president would be elected by an electoral college, or, in the case of a tie in that body, by the House of Representatives.
    3. The Division and Separation of Powers
      1. The Constitution embodies federalism and a system of checks and balances.
        1. Federalism refers to the relationship between the national government and the states.
        2. The separation of powers, or the system of checks and balances, refers to the way the Constitution seeks to prevent any branch of the national government from dominating the other two.
    4. The Debate over Slavery
      1. Slavery divided the delegates.
      2. The words "slave" and "slavery" did not appear in the Constitution, but it did provide for slavery.
      3. The South Carolinian delegates proved very influential in preserving slavery within the Constitution.
    5. Slavery in the Constitution
      1. The Constitution prevented Congress from prohibiting the slave trade until 1808.
      2. The fugitive slave clause made clear that the condition of bondage remained attached to a person even if he or she escaped to a free area, and it required all states to help police the institution of slavery.
      3. The federal government could not interfere with slavery in the states.
        1. Slave states had more power due to the three-fifths clause.
    6. The Final Document
      1. Delegates signed the final draft on September 17, 1787.
      2. The Constitution created a new framework for American development.
  4. The Ratification Debate and the Origin of the Bill of Rights
    1. The Federalist
      1. Nine of the thirteen states had to ratify the document.
      2. The Federalist was published to generate support for ratification.
        1. Hamilton argued the Constitution had created "the perfect balance between liberty and power."
    2. "Extend the Sphere"
      1. Madison had a new vision of the relationship between government and society in Federalist no. 10 and no. 51.
      2. Madison argued that the large size of the United States was a source of stability, not weakness.
      3. Madison helped to popularize the liberal idea that men are generally motivated by self-interest and that the good of society arises from the clash of these private interests.
    3. The Anti-Federalists
      1. Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification, argued that the republic had to be small and warned that the Constitution would result in an oppressive government.
      2. "Liberty" was the Anti-Federalists' watchword.
        1. They argued for a Bill of Rights.
      3. Federalists tended to be men of substantial property, urban dwellers seeking prosperity, and rural residents tied to the commercial marketplace.
      4. Anti-Federalists drew support from small farmers in more isolated rural areas (e.g., New York's Hudson Valley, western Massachusetts, the southern backcountry).
      5. Federalists dominated the press, which helped them carry the day.
      6. Madison won support for the Constitution by promising a bill of rights later.
      7. By mid-1788, the required nine states had ratified.
      8. Only Rhode Island and North Carolina voted against ratification, but they eventually joined the new government.
    4. The Bill of Rights
      1. Madison believed the Constitution would protect liberty without the addition of a bill of rights.
      2. Still, to satisfy the Constitution's critics, Madison introduced a bill of rights to the first Congress.
      3. Some rights, such as the prohibiting of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishments, reflected English roots, while others, such as the recognition of religious freedom, were uniquely American.
      4. Among the most important rights were freedom of speech and of the press, vital building blocks of a democratic public sphere.
  5. "We the People"
    1. National Identity
      1. The Constitution identifies three populations inhabiting the United States:
        1. Indians
        2. "Other persons," which meant slaves
        3. "People," who were the only ones entitled to American freedom
    2. Indians in the New Nation
      1. Indian tribes had no representation in the new government.
      2. The treaty system was used with Indians, and Congress forbade the transfer of Indian land without federal approval.
      3. The U.S. victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers led to the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.
        1. Under this treaty, twelve Indian tribes ceded most of Ohio and Indiana to the United States.
        2. The treaty established the annuity system-yearly grants of federal money to Indian tribes that led to continuing U.S. government influence in tribal affairs.
      4. Some prominent Americans believed that Indians could assimilate into society.
        1. Assimilation meant transforming traditional Indian life.
    3. Blacks and the Republic
      1. The status of citizenship for free blacks was left to individual states.
      2. Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer described America as a melting pot of Europeans.
      3. Like Crèvecoeur, many white Americans excluded blacks from their conception of the American people.
        1. The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited naturalization (the process by which immigrants become citizens) to "free white persons."
    4. Jefferson, Slavery, and Race
      1. John Locke and others maintained that reason was essential to having liberty.
        1. Many white Americans did not consider blacks to be rational beings.
        2. Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia claimed blacks lacked self-control, reason, and devotion to the larger community.
      2. Jefferson did not think any group was fixed permanently in a status of inferiority.
      3. Some prominent Virginians believed black Americans could not become part of the America nation.
    5. Principles of Freedom
      1. The Revolution widened the divide between free Americans and those who remained in slavery.
      2. "We the people" increasingly meant white Americans.