State Constitutions and the Articles of Confederation (1776-1788)
Sections:
  1. The Articles of Confederation
  2. Annapolis Convention
  3. The Federalist Papers
  4. "The Virginia Plan" 1787
  5. Questions to Consider for the State Constitutions Below
  6. The Constitution of Delaware
  7. The Constitution of Georgia
  8. The Constitution of Maryland
  9. The Constitution of New York
  10. The Constitution of North Carolina
  11. The Constitution of Pennsylvania
  12. Bill of Rights for the State of Pennsylvania (Sept. 28, 1776)
  13. The Constitution of South Carolina
  14. The Constitution of Vermont
  15. Map of the 13 Original States
  16. Power Point
The Articles of ConfederationTop
Historical Context
Lasting from March 1, 1781 to June 21, 1788, the Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States. After their experience with Great Britain, the 13 states were wary of a powerful central government and were careful to give the states much independence and to limit the functions of the federal government.

The Articles created a loose confederation of independent states that gave limited powers to a central government. The national government would consist of a single house of Congress, where each state would have one vote. Congress had the power to set up a postal department, to estimate the costs of the government and request donations from the states, to raise armed forces, and to control the development of the western territories. With the consent of nine of the thirteen states, Congress could also coin, borrow, or appropriate money as well as declare war and enter into treaties and alliances with foreign nations.

There was no independent executive and no veto of legislation. Judicial proceedings in each state were to be honored by all other states. The federal government had no judicial branch, and the only judicial authority Congress had was the power to arbitrate disputes between states. Congress was denied the power to levy taxes; the new federal government was financed by donations from the states based on the value of each state’s lands. Any amendment to the Articles required the unanimous approval of all 13 states.

From the beginning, the federal government was plagued by several inherent defects with the Articles of Confederation. The biggest issue facing the federal government was its inability to regulate trade and levy taxes. States often refused to give money to the government. Other times, they fought tariff wars against each other. Needless to say, this crippled interstate commerce. The government could not pay off the debts it had incurred during the revolution, nor the salaries of the soldiers who had fought in the war. Beyond this, Congress could not force the states to adhere to the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 ending the American Revolution. When some states initiated their own negotiations with foreign countries, the federal government was thoroughly humiliated.

Leaders like Alexander Hamilton of New York and James Madison of Virginia criticized the limits placed on the central government, and General George Washington is said to have complained that the federation was “little more than a shadow without substance.”

Attached Documents
The first image is the first page of the Articles of Confederation.
The second image is a stamp depicting the drafting of the Articles of Confederation.

Questions to Consider
1) What were some of the inherent flaws in the Articles?
2) What do you think motivated giving so much power to each state?
     The Articles of Confederation.rtf  
     articles_page.JPG
     ArticlesofConfederationStamp.jpg
Citations:
Hamilton/Madison Quote: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761567227/Articles_of_Confederation.html
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/artconf.htm
Original Photo of the Opening Page of the Articles of Confederation: http://bensguide.gpo.gov/images/documents/articles_page1.jpg
Stamp Commerating the Drafting of the Articles: http://www.americanrevolution.com/ArticlesofConfederationStamp.jpg
Annapolis ConventionTop
Historical Context
Unhappy with the impotence of the federal government under the Articles of Confederation, some Americans began contemplating radical changes in the nature and scope of the government. Thus, although the Annapolis Convention was organized in 1786 primarily to address issues related to commerce, individuals such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, used the meeting as a platform for advocating a new form of government for the United States.

Attached Documents
Below is a statement released by the Annapolis delegates arguing for such a change and suggesting a gathering that would become the Constitutional Convention.

The image is of the site of the Annapolis Convention.

Questions to Consider
1) What were some of the main complaints about the Articles?
     Statement of the Annapolis Convention.rtf  
     annopolisconvention.jpg
Citations:
Proceedings of the Annapolis Convention: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/annapoli.htm
Image of the Maryland State House, Site of the 1786 Annapolis Convention: http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/constitution/images/fig7.jpg
The Federalist PapersTop
Historical Context
In response to widespread dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, a series of 85 articles arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution, were first published serially from October 1787 to August 1788 in New York City newspapers. The articles served as a formidable influence on the drafting of the Constitution. Although articles were written by James Madison and John Jay, Alexander Hamilton was their principle author. All three wrote under the pseudonym "Publius," in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola.

Attached Documents
Besides Hamilton’s general introduction, Federalist No. 10 and Federalist No. 51 are generally regarded as the most influential of the 85 articles; 10 advocates for a large, strong republic and includes discussion on factions, 51 explains the need for separation of powers. Federalist No. 84 is also notable for its opposition to what later became the United States Bill of Rights.

The first image is a portrait of Alexander Hamilton.

The second image is the title page from The Federalist Papers.

Questions to Consider
1) In his Report on Manufactures, what does Hamilton say about the employment of women and Children? About emigration from Europe to the United States?
2) In the Federalist No.10 what does Madison list as the dangers of factionalization? How does he describe the current situation in the attempt to form a constitution?
3) What are the options, according to Madison, to eliminate factions? How does he feel about these choices?
4) How does Madison define "democracy" and "republic"? How does this compare to the modern definition of the terms? Which does he claim is the favorable choice?
5) What does Madison say are the dangers inherent in a republic? How does he suggest limiting these dangers?
6)In the Federalist No.51, what does the author say about the ability of members of one branch of government to appoint members to another branch? How does he suggest members be appointed? How does this compare to how appointments are handled today?
7) According to the author, what is, out of necessity, the most important, and therefore most powerful branch of the government? How does he suggest limiting this power?
     Report on Manufactures.rtf  
     Federalist 10.rtf  
     Federalist 51.rtf  
     hamilton.jpg
     Federalist Cover.jpg
Citations:
Report on Manufactures: http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch4s31.html
The Federalist Papers: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_01.html
Image of Alexander Hamilton: http://www.eadshome.com/images/foundingfathers/Alexander%20Hamilton%20pic.jpg
Cover of the Federalist Papers: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Images/federalist.jpg
"The Virginia Plan" 1787Top
Historical Context
In April 1787, James Madison wrote "The Vices of the Political System of the United States" which argued that no confederacy could endure if it acted upon states only and not directly upon individuals. He then drew up an outline of a new system of government, the basis of the "Virginia Plan" presented in the convention by Edmund Jennings Randolph.

Attached Documents
The following document is based on Madison's own notes of Randolph’s argument presented in the Federal Convention of 1787. That Madison and Randolph were able to enter the Constitutional Convention with a plan of government conferred an enormous political advantage. The Virginia Plan became the basis for the early debate on a new structure of government.

The first image is a portrait of James Madison.

The second image is a portrait of Edmond Randolph

Questions to Consider
1) What properties does Madison claim a federal government should have?
2) What are the defects of a confederacy?
3) What are his proposed solutions for the current situation?
     madisonrandolph.rtf  
     TM12 James Madison.jpg
     EdmundRandolph.jpg
Citations:
Web Version: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/debates/529.htm
Original Image of James Madison: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/law/witt/images/lect9/fx04_james_madison_2.jpg
Original Image of Edmund Randolph: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/burr/Eran2.jpg
Questions to Consider for the State Constitutions BelowTop
1. What religious differences can be found between the State Constitutions?
2. Each State Constitution outlines specific election procedures, how do they differ?
3. Voting rights vary slightly between the states. How do they vary in regards to age? How do they vary in regards to land ownership? How do they vary in regards to foreign nationals?
4. Each constitution outlines how the state government should be ran. What are the slight variations between the governing bodies?
5. How do the states handle relations with the crown?
6. Can you find any variation in the requirements for a freeman to run for offices between the states?
The Constitution of DelawareTop
Attached Documents
On September 21, 1776 the state constitution of Delaware was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. How many legislative branches does the Delaware constitution provide? What are their names?
2. To what religious affiliation does the Delaware constitution purport to subscribe? Do you agree with this?
3. What legal code is used in Delaware?
4. What does the document say about slavery? Which ethnicities are included under this provision?

     Constitution of Delaware.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/de02.htm
The Constitution of GeorgiaTop
Attached Documents
On February 5, 1777 the the constitution of the state of Georgia was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. What are the qualifications for voting in Georgia?
2. What is stipulated in the freedom to practice one’s religion in Georgia?

     Constitution of Georgia.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/ga02.htm
The Constitution of MarylandTop
Attached Documents
On November 11, 1776 the constitution of the state of Maryland was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. What are the property qualifications for delegates of the Maryland assembly?

     Constitution of Maryland.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/ma02.htm
The Constitution of New YorkTop
Attached Documents
On April 20, 1777 the constitution of the state of New York was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. According to the New York state constitution, what is the legislative process for making a bill law?
2. What are the qualifications for voting in New York?
3. Before he can vote, what is required of every elector? What provisions are made for Quakers?
4. How are members of the New York Senate to be divided?

     Constitution of New York.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/ny01.htm
The Constitution of North CarolinaTop
Attached Documents
On December 18, 1776 the constitution of the state of North Caorlina was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. According to the North Carolina hich branches have the authority to appoint military commanders?
2. What military powers does the governor possess in North Carolina? What other powers does the governor enjoy?
3. Which religion is explicitly espoused by the North Carolina constitution? What specific branch of that religion is mentioned?
4. What provisions are made for foreigners gaining citizenship in North Carolina?
5. What does the document say about the purchase of lands from Native Americans?

     Constitution of North Carolina.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/nc07.htm
The Constitution of PennsylvaniaTop
Attached Documents
On September 18, 1776 the constitution of the state of Pennsylvania was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. What military requirement is expected of male citizens in Pennsylvania?
2. What is the Supreme Executive Council? Of what does it consist?
3. What stipulations does the Pennsylvanian Constitution make regarding taxation?

     Constitution of Pennsylvania.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/pa08.htm
Bill of Rights for the State of Pennsylvania (Sept. 28, 1776)Top
Attached Documents
As an example of an individual state's bill of rights, Pennsylvania's version was passed on September 28, 1776 and shows many similarities with other colonies.

Questions to Consider
1. Summarize the Pennslyvanian Bill of Rights’ statement on religious freedoms.
2. According to the document, what course of action can the people of Pennsylvania take if the government performs unsatisifactorily?
3. How does the document protect individual private property?
4. When charged with a crime, what rights does the accused have in their defense?
5. According to the document, what virtues are vital for the maintaince of free government and what should the individual do to ensue the success of such a government?

     Pennsylvania Bill of Rights.rtf  
Citations:
Web Version: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/pa08.htm
The Constitution of South CarolinaTop
Attached Documents
On March 26, 1776 the constitution of the state of South Carolina was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. What is the general assembly? What legislative powers does it possess?
2. What is the procedure in case of the death of the president and commander-in-chief?
3. Who nominates the justices of the peace? Who confirms them?

     Constitution of South Carolina.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/sc01.htm
The Constitution of VermontTop
Attached Documents
On July 8, 1777 the constitution of the state of Vermont was ratified.

Questions to Consider
1. According to the constitution of Vermont, what powers are vested in the governor?
2. What can the state do to prevent vice and preserve virtue?

     Constitution of Vermont 1.rtf  
Citations:
Link to the original document: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/vt01.htm
Map of the 13 Original StatesTop
     United States 1803.JPG
Citations:
Link to the original map:http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd/united_states_1783_1803.jpg
Power PointTop
This Power Point presentation addresses the subjects covered in this teaching module.
     State Constitutions and the Articles of Confederation.ppt  
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