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    Thursday, 26 May 2016

    Background of American Constitution

    1. Menace of the French and the Spaniards

    So long as the menace of the French and the Spaniards existed in North American, these colonies meekly submitted to the dictates in the mother-country. With the extinction of the French and Spanish power in the Seven Years War, the things took a new turn.

    2. Congress of representatives

    A congress of representatives of the State was called at Philadelphia in 1775. The Congress appointed George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief of the army. The French promised aid and ultimately the thirteen colonies declared war against England. On 4th of July, 1776 was published the Declaration of Independence.

    3. The declaration of Independence

    Was the first time that “the United States of America” was officially used previous practice had been refer to the “United States”. As long as the revolution remained a purely internal quarrel between England and her colonies, foreign governments were reluctant to give military assistance, and assistance was desperately needed if the Americans were to make successful their revolutionary acts. They French were especially anxious to support any move that would weaken English power, but they first wanted assurances that the Americans meant business. The Declaration of Independence notified the world that the Americans were serious, and it was both an appeal to the conscience of mankind and a call for military help.

    4. The Articles of Confederation

    Although the Second Continental Congress, which had assembled in May 1775, had no formal governmental authority, it raised an army, appointed a commander in chief, negotiated with foreign nations, coined money, and assumed all powers that, it claimed, belong to an independent and sovereign nation. It seemed desirable to legalize those practices and place congress’s operation on a mere formal basis of authority. In 1777 congress submitted the articles to the state legislatures and second national government being to function.

    a. A league of friendship

    The articles of confederation established a league of friendship, a perpetual Union” of states, resting expressly on state sovereignty.

    b. Structure of the central government

    The structure of the central government was quite simple The Articles of confederation. There was only s single-chamber congress. There was no executive, although a congressional committee consisting of one delegated from each state managed affairs when congress was not assembled. There was no judiciary, although congress acted as a court to resolve disputes among the states.

    c. Powers of congress

    Congress could determine peace and war, send and receive ambassadors, enter into treaties apportion prizes taken by United States forces, coin money, fix standards of weights and measures; regulate affairs with Indians not members of any state, establish a postal system, appoint United States military officers above the rank of colonel, and decide certain disputes that might arise among the states.

    d. The Philadelphia Convention

     Delegates to the Philadelphia convention were interested not in mere political speculation but in establishing a government that would work, and they were well equipped for the task. Seven of the delegates had served as governors of their respective states, thirty-nine had served in congress, and eight had previous experience in constitution making within their own states.

    e. Proceeding at the convention

    The Virginia delegates, who were anxious to establish a strong central government, prepared a series of proposals. They prepared a plan that imparted to the forthcoming debates a general direction that the less nationalistically inclined delegates were never able to reverse. Eventually the Virginia Plan, with modifications, became the constitution.

    f. The new Jersey Plan

    Except for proposing that congress be given the power to regulate commerce and levy taxes, the plan would not have significantly altered the Articles of confederation. Although some of its provisions were incorporated into the constitution, the New Jersey Plan was ultimately rejected, and the delegates resumed discussion of the Virginia Plan.

    g. The Connecticut Compromise

    The convention became deadlocked over the crucial issue of representation in the upper house of the proposed congress. Finally, a committee of eleven, one delegate from each state was appointed to work out a compromise. The committee presented its report, known to history as the Connecticut compromise. The nationalists conceded that each state would have equal representation in the upper house, but only on the condition that money bills originate in the lower chamber. However, there remained many difference to be reconciled.

    h. Ratification of the Constitution


    Ratification of the constitution was not without a bitter struggle within the states, especially in Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York. The constitution was subjected to minute and searching debate. By the end of June 1788, ten states had ratified and one more was needed. But New York still had not acted, and because of its central geographic location, its approval was essential to the success of the new government. 
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    Item Reviewed: Background of American Constitution Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Usman Ali
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