The U.S. Constitution, signed on
September 17, 1787 at Philadelphia, initiated America’s fundamental laws and
national government and certified certain basic rights for citizens. Authorized
by the congress, the Constitution was signed by delegates at the Constitutional
Convention and was conducted by George Washington. The delegates revised the
articles and composed a plan for a stronger federal government with three
branches. The Bill of Rights also became part of the constitution, which guaranteed
individual protections (10 amendments). Without certain events or ideas like
the Shay’s Rebellion, New Jersey Plan, Virginia Plan, Great Compromise and the
Articles of Confederation the Constitution wouldn’t have been the way it is now.
All of these event or ideas had a major role in creating the Constitution.
1781 during the Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation was created to
bring order to the nation which only formed an imperceptible facade of a
national government. This generated little more than a “league of friendship”
that couldn’t regulate trade or levy taxes. Each state preserved its supremacy
and independence and possessed one vote in which nine out of thirteen were
required to pass any measure. There wasn’t any national judicial system to resolve
claims among the states and all the thirteen states had to agree which is very
rare. George Washington and Alex Hamilton, leaders of the Revolution, believed
that a strong national government was necessary; therefore, they began working
toward strengthening the federal government. In doing so, they held a series of
meetings where one in Philadelphia called the Constitutional Convention was
held to revise the effects of the confederation. At this meeting, the delegates
assembled new ideas and wrote the new U.S. Constitution. The Articles of
Confederation acted as a platform and blueprint for the Constitution.
January 1787, a rebellion took place consisting of a group of ex-Revolutionary
War soldiers distressed by high taxes and debts in which they attempted to
prevent foreclosures of farms. The Congress tried to suppress this rebellion
but failed because they couldn’t raise the money or manpower to be successful.
The Shay’s Rebellion had a powerful effect on opinions and caused many
delegates to attend the meetings held by Revolutionary leaders because they
feared the downfall of the state governments. The timing of this rebellion was
ideal because it took place in a political atmosphere where reform of the
Articles of Confederation was essential. This rebellion served as a stimulation
and spark for summoning the U.S. Constitutional Convention, which evidentially
determined the new government.
Virginia delegates proposed a plan called The Virginia Plan in order to create
a strong national government union organized into three governmental branches (legislative,
executive, and judicial). The Virginia
Plan was significant in its role in setting the general agenda and
fundamentally altering the nature of its task. This plan created an entire new
form of government rather than revising the Articles of Confederation. In
addition to the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan also had a role in creating
the Constitution. Small states like New Jersey became very worried that the
convention was going to write a constitution where the small states would be
outvoted by the larger ones. The New Jersey Plan wanted each state to have an
equal representation, whereas the Virginia Plan was an unequal representation. Therefore,
this plan proposed to amend not replace the old Articles of Confederation. The plan
was rejected as a blueprint for the Constitution but some ideas from this plan
were added. These events lead to the Great Compromise which also impacted the
creation of the Constitution. This compromise saved the Constitutional
Convention because it planned to have a popularly elected House based on state
population and a state-selected Senate, with two members for each state. This
not only showed support for a strong national government from the small states
but also the large ones too. The Great Compromise composed the legislative structure
and portrayed that each state would have representation under the U.S.
Constitution. The Constitution wouldn’t have been effective or strong if it
weren’t for these events and ideas.