Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of early American government and politics. The chapter begins with a description of some of the colorful celebrations held in cities to honor the ratification of the Constitution. The chapter thoroughly explains the strengths and weaknesses of the first written constitution known as the Articles of Confederation. Recognizing that the Articles did not provide the power for a strong central government that was needed to ensure that the republic survived, states sent delegates to a Constitutional Convention to draw up a new constitution. The chapter covers the debates at the convention, discussing separation of powers, division of powers, the debates over slavery, and the final document.

Ratification of the document was not a foregone conclusion. Federalists such as James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay worked hard at promoting support for ratification by writing a series of essays called The Federalist. The Anti-Federalists, who were concerned that the constitution severely limited liberty since it contained no Bill of Rights, opposed them. The Voices of Freedom highlights writings from both the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. A compromise was made when Madison promised the Anti-Federalists that the first Congress would pass a Bill of Rights.

The chapter concludes with a discussion about who was included in "We the People." Indians and blacks were clearly not "the people" and the liberties and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution were not extended to those groups. As the nation consolidated and enlarged the meaning of freedom, a widening gap emerged between "free whites" and "enslaved blacks."

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