Formation of Government 1776-1790
While the Articles of Confederation formed a loose working political body for the colonists to wage war, its shortcomings quickly became evident. The deliberations over the new form of government, worthy of the sacrifices and meeting the lofty ideals of the Revolutionaries became another struggle to define the meaning of the Revolution.
Section 1: Learning Objectives
Explain why the Declaration of Independence was written
Explain why & how did the role of women change in republican society?
Explain why Americans initially adopted a confederation as their form of government.
Identify the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.
Explain the causes and consequences of Shays’ Rebellion
Identify the central issues of the 1787 Constitutional Convention and their solutions
Describe the conflicts over the ratification of the federal constitution
Explain the reason behind the "Great Compromise."
Section 2: Textbook Readings
Boundless US History “Founding a Nation: 1783–1789"
- America under the Articles of Confederation
- A New Constitution
- Ratification and the Bill of Rights
- We the People
- Conclusion: The Development of the Constitution
Alternative OER Textbook Resources
US History - OpenStax
The American Yawp
History in the Making: a History of the People of the United States
Section 3: Module Supplemental Readings/ Videos
- America's Founding Documents
- America under the Articles of Confederation: 1783–1789
- Shay’s Rebellion
- America’s First Failure at Government
- Constitutional Government: Writing the Constitution
- Creating the US Constitution
- Constitutional Amendment Process
- Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist Debates
- Republican Motherhood
- Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
- Revolutionary Changes and Limitations
- The Declaration of Independence crash course
- Thomas Jefferson & the Declaration of Independence
- The American Revolution Changes the Status of Women
- The Articles of Confederation - The Constitution Before the Constitution
- Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
- The Constitution, the Articles, and Federalism: Crash Course US History #8
- The Great Compromise
- Federalists vs Anti-Federalists in 5 Minutes
Primary Source Documents
Section 4: Glossary of Key Terms
Anti-federalists: Opponents of the 1787 Constitution who judged the document as anti-democratic, objected to the subordination of the states to the central government, and feared encroachment on individuals’ liberties in the absence of a bill of rights.
Articles of Confederation: First American constitution that established the United States as a loose confederation of states under a weak national Congress, which was not granted the power to regulate commerce, coin money, or collect taxes.
Bill of Rights: Popular term for the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The amendments secure key rights for individuals and reserve to the states all powers not explicitly delegated or prohibited by the Constitution.
checks and balances: principle of government under which separate branches are empowered to prevent actions by other branches and are induced to share power.
Federalists: Proponents of the 1787 Constitution who favored a strong national government, arguing that the checks and balances in the new Constitution would safeguard the people’s liberties.
The Federalist: Collection of essays written by John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, under the pseudonym “Publius,” and published during the ratification debate in New York to lay out the Federalists’ arguments in favor of the new Constitution.
Great Compromise: Popular term for the measure which reconciled the New Jersey and Virginia plans at the constitutional convention, giving states proportional representation in the House and equal representation in the Senate.
Land Ordinance of 1785: Provided for the sale of land in the Old Northwest and earmarked the proceeds toward repaying the national debt.
New Jersey Plan: “Small-state plan” put forth at the Philadelphia convention, proposing equal representation by state, regardless of population, in a unicameral legislature.
Northwest Ordinance: Created a policy for administering the Northwest Territories. It included a path to statehood and forbade the expansion of slavery into the territories.
Shays’ Rebellion: Armed uprising of western Massachusetts debtors seeking lower taxes and an end to property foreclosures.
three-fifths compromise: Determined that 3/5s (60 percent) of a states slave population would be counted for the purpose of apportioning taxes and representation.
Virginia Plan: “Large state” proposal for the new constitution, calling for proportional representation in both houses of a bicameral Congress.
Section 5: Instructor Resources
(Activities, Slidedecks, etc.)