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Unit 3 Notes
by MOHAMED SAMATER - Sunday, October 4, 2015, 09:29 AM

The Constitution and the New Republic

•By the late 1780s, most Americans were dissatisfied with the deficiencies of the confederation, like the government’s inability to deal with factiousness and instability and the failure to handle economic problems effectively, also the way it displayed itself in the Shays’s Rebellion.

•In 1787, they created a new government defined by the Constitution of the United States.

•The American Constitution derived most of its principles from the state documents that had preceded it.

•William Gladstone, the great nineteenth century British salesman, once called the Constitution the “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man”.
(p. 159)

Advocates of Centralization

•During the 17802, the wealthiest and most powerful groups in the country began to clamor for a national government capable with dealing of the nation’s problems, like the economic problems that were affecting them.

•Some military men were disgruntled at the Congress for refusing to fund their pensions. They began to invigorate the national government; some wanted a military dictatorship and flirted briefly with a direct challenge to Congress, until George Washington shut the potential rebellion down. 

•American manufacturers, the artisans and the mechanics of the nation’s cities and towns, wanted to replace state tariffs with a uniformly high national duty.

•By 1776, these diverse demands had gotten so big, people were not thinking of if Congress should be changed, but how drastic should it be changed.

•Alexander Hamilton had been unhappy with the Articles of the Confederation and the weak central government it made, and called out for a national convention to overhaul the entire document. He made an ally in James Madison of Virginia, who persuaded Virginia legislature to convene an interstate conference meeting on commercial questions. Only 5 state delegates came to the meeting in Annapolis, Maryland in 1786.

•Only by winning the support of George Washington may be the only way they could prevail. But Washington showed little interest in joining the cause. After hearing Thomas Jefferson on Shays’s Rebellion, Washington left his home in May of 1787 for the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and his support gave the meeting immediate credibility.
(p. 160-162)

A Divided Convention

•55 men representing each state, except Rhode Island, attended one or more sessions of the convention that sat in the Philadelphia State House from May to September 1787. These “Founding Fathers” were relatively young, even though Benjamin Franklin was 81.

•The convention chose George Washington to preside over it and closed its business to the public and the press. Each member had one vote and major decisions would not require unanimity

•Virginia sent the best-prepared delegation to Philadelphia, James Madison was its intellectual leader because he had a detailed plan for a new “national” government and the Virginians used this as the agenda for the whole convention.

•The Virginia Plan called for a new national legislature consisting of two houses. In the lower house, the states would be represented in proportion to their population; Virginia (the biggest) would have 10 times as many representatives than Delaware (the smallest). Members of the upper house were to be elected by the lower house under no rigid system of representation; some smaller states might at times may have no members in the upper house.

•The New Jersey Plan, a plan made after hearing the Virginia Plan by William Patterson, preserved one house legislature, in which each state had equal representation, but it gave congress an expanded powers to tax and regulate commerce. It was voted to be tabled, but not without taking notes on the substantial support for it among small-state representatives.

•To give the smaller states something, the Virginia Plan was revised to permit the members of the upper house to be elected by the state legislatures rather than the lower house of the national legislatures 
(p. 162)


•With delegates bickering for weeks, by the end of June, the convention seemed to be in danger of collapsing. Benjamin Franklin, who had a calm mind through the summer, warned delegates if they had failed, the delegates would “become a reproach and by-word down to the future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war and conquest.” After hearing this, the delegates refused to give up.

•On July 2nd, the convention agreed to make a “grand committee” with a single delegate from each state, with Benjamin Franklin as chairman, to resolve the disagreements. This resulted in the “Great Compromise”. The proposal called for a legislature in which the states would be represented in the lower house on the basis of population, with each slave counting as 3/5 of a free person in determining the basis for representation and direct taxation. The committee also proposed that in the upper house, the states should be represented equally with two members apiece. On July 16, 1787, the convention voted to accept the compromise.

•The convention as a whole agreed to another important compromise on the explosive issue of slavery. The committee agreed that a new legislature would not be permitted to tax exports; Congress would also be forbidden to impose a duty of more than $10 a head on imported slaves, and it would have no authority to stop the slave trade for twenty years.
(p. 162-163)

The Constitution of 1787

•Many people contributed to the creation of the American Constitution, the most important was James Madison - the most creative political thinker of his generation. Madison’s most important achievement was in helping in resolve two important philosophical questions that were obstacles in the creation of an effective national government: the question of sovereignty and limiting power.

•Sovereignty was a problem between the colonists and Britain, and it continued to trouble the Americans making a government. Madison and friends’ answer was that all the power from the government flowed from the people.

•Resolving the question of sovereignty made it possible for the Constitution make distribution of powers between the national and state governments. The Constitution and the government it created would be the “supreme law”; no state could defy it.

•The federal government was to have broad powers, including the powers to tax, to regulate commerce, to control the currency, and to pass laws that were necessary for carrying its other responsibilities.

•The idea of many centers of power watching the others so that no center of became the single authority made the a large republic possible. The Constitution’s most distinctive feature was “separations of powers” within the government and its creation of “checks and balances” among the three branches of government: legislative, judicial, and executive.

•Congress would have two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives, would both have to agree before any law could be passed. The president would have the power to veto the acts of Congress. The federal and courts would have protection from the executive and legislature because judge and justices, once appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, would serve for life.

•On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates signed the Constitution.
(p. 163-166)

Federalists and Antifederalists

•All the state legislatures except Rhode Island’s elected delegates to ratifying conventions, most of which began meeting by early 1788.

•Supporters of the Constitution had a number of advantages, like being better organized and had two big supporters, Franklin and Washington. They called themselves “Federalists”-the term that opponents of centralization had onced used to describe themselves-thus implying that they were less committed to a “nationalist” government than in fact they were. They also had many important supporters like Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jays. These three men wrote essays that were widely published in newspapers explaining the meaning and the virtues of the Constitution.

•The Federalists called their critics “Antifederalists”, implying that they were only offering opposition and chaos.They presented themselves as the defenders of the true principles of the Revolution. They had believed the Constitution would betray those principles by establishing a strong, potentially tyrannical, center of power in the new national government. They thought the new government would increase taxes, obliterate the states, wield dictatorial powers, favor the “well born” over the common people, and put an end to individual liberty. Their biggest complaint was that the Constitution lacked a bill of rights, which revealed one important source of their opposition: a basic mistrust human nature and of the capacity of human beings to wield power.

•Both the Federalists and Antifederalists both had a lot of fears. Federalists were afraid of disorder, anarchy, and chaos. Antifederalists were much more concerned about the dangers of concentrated power than about the dangers of popular will. Antifederalists opposed the Constitution for some reasons the Federalists supported it: because it placed obstacles between the people and the exercise of power.

•Despite the Antifederalists efforts, ratification proceeded quickly during the winter of 1787-1788. The Delaware convention was the first to ratify the Constitution unanimously, with New Jersey and Georgia doing the same. New Hampshire ratified the document in June 1788- the 9th state to do so. Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York all ratified, on the assumption that a bill of rights would be added to the Constitution. Rhode Island did not even call a convention to consider ratification.
(p. 166-167)

Completing the Structure

•The first elections under the Constitution took place in the early months of 1789. Almost all the newly elected congress and senators had favored ratification, and many served as delegates to the Philadelphia convention. Washington was chosen to be the president and John Adams was picked to be vice president. Washington was inaugurated in New York-the national capital for the time being-on April 30, 1789.

•Congress approved 12 amendments on September 25th, 1789; 10 of them were ratified by the states by the end of 1791. The Bill of Rights we know were these ten amendments to the Constitution. Nine of them place limitations on Congress by forbidding it to infringe on certain basic rights: freedom of religion, speech, and the press; immunity from arbitrary arrest; trial by jury; and others. The tenth amendment reserved to the states all powers except those significantly withheld from them or delegated to the federal government. 

•In the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress provided for a Supreme Court of six members, a chief justice and 5 associate justices; thirteen district courts with one judge apiece; and three circuit courts of appeal, each to consist of one of the district judges sitting with two of the Supreme Court justices. In the same act, Congress gave the Supreme Court the power to make the final decision in cases involving the constitutionality of state laws.

•The first Congress created three such departments-state, treasury, and war- and also established the offices of the attorney general and postmaster general. Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton of New York as secretary of the treasury and for secretary of war, he chose General Henry Knox from Massachusetts. Then, Edmund Randolph became the attorney general and Thomas Jefferson, after being a minister to France, was appointed as secretary of state.
(p. 168)

Hamilton and the Federalists

•For 12 years, control of the new government remained firmly in the hands of the Federalists. That’s because George Washington envisioned a strong national government and as presidents had quietly supported those who were attempting to create one. He also avoided any personal involvement in the deliberations of Congress.

•Hamilton proposed that the new government take responsibility for the existing public debt and to create a national bank. Hamilton did not envision  paying off and thus eliminating the debt. Also at the time, there were a few banks in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. A national bank would help fill in the void of an empty well-developed banking system and created. Hamilton also proposed two new kinds of taxes. One was an excuse to be paid by distillers of alcoholic liquors, a tax that would fall most heavily on the whiskey distillers. The other was a tariff on imports.
(p. 168-169)

Enacting the Federalist Program

•Few members of Congress objected to Hamilton’s plan for funding the national debt, but many did oppose his proposal. Many members of Congress believed if the federal government was to assume responsibility for these bonds, some of them should be returned to the original purchasers. Congress finally passed the funding bill Hamilton wanted.

•Hamilton’s proposal that the federal government assume the state debts encountered difficulty. His opponents argued that if the federal government took over the state debts, the people of states with few debts would have to pay taxes to service the larger debts of other states. For example, Massachusetts owed far more money than in Virginia. Hamilton and his supporters struck a bargain with the Virginians to win passage of the bill.

•The deal involved the location of the nation’s capital. The capital had moved from New York back to Philadelphia in 1790. Virginians wanted the capital near in the South. Hamilton met with Thomas Jefferson over dinner to gain northern support to get Virginia's votes for the assumption bill. The bargain resulted in construction of a new capital city on the banks of the Pontiac River, which divided Virginia and Maryland, on land to be selected by Washington himself. The government would move there by the 18th century.

•Hamilton’s bank bill sparked the most heated debate, the first of many. Hamilton argued that the creation of a national bank complied with the Constitution, even though the document didn’t authorize it. But Madison, Jefferson, Randolph, and others argued that Congress should exercise no powers that the Constitution had not clearly assigned it. But, both the House and the Senate finally agreed to Hamilton’s bill.

•Washington displayed some uncertainty about it’s legality at first, but he finally signed it. The Bank of the United States began operations in 1791, under a charter that granted it the right to continue for twenty years.

•Hamilton had his way with the excise tax, although protests from farmers later forced revisions to reduce the burden on the smaller distillers. He also won a passage of a new tariff in 1792, although it raised rates less than he had wished.
(p. 170)

The Republican Opposition

•The Constitution had no reference to political parties. Most of the farmers- and George Washington in particular- believed that organized parties were dangerous and should be avoided. Most of the founding fathers believed that disagreements need not and should not lead to the formation of permanent factions.

•Yet within a few years after ratification of the Constitution, Madison and others become convinced that Hamilton and his followers had become just such an “interested and overbearing majority”. Hamilton, in their eyes, worked to establish a national network of influence that embodied all the worst features of a party. The Federalists used their connections to reward supporters and win additional allies. Their opponents believed that they were doing many of the same things the corrupt British governments of the early 18th century had done.

•Because they saw the Federalists making a menacing and structure of power, they decided to organize an opposition, which became an alternative political organization, which was called the Republican party (no relation to the modern republican party, which was founded in 1850s). By the late 1790s, the Republicans were going to even greater lengths than the Federalists to create an apparatus of partisan influence. They were influencing state and local elections. Preeminent republicans were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson emerged as the prominent spokesman for the Republicans while considering himself a farmer. Jefferson envisioned a decentralized society, dominated by small property owners engaged largely in agrarian activities.

•The difference between the Federalist and Republican social philosophies was visible in reactions to the French Revolution. As the revolution grew in the 1790s, with its attacks on organized religion, the overthrow the monarchy, and eventually the execution of the king and queen, the Federalists expressed horror. The Republicans applauded the democratic; anti-artiscrotacts spirit they believed the French Revolution embodied. Some imitated the French like cutting their hair and wearing pantaloons.

•At the 1792 presidential election, the nation’s second, approached, both Jefferson and Hamilton urged Washington to run for another term, the president reluctantly agreed, but Hamilton remained the dominant figure in government.
(p. 170-172)

Securing the Frontier

•In 1794, farmers in western Pennsylvania raised a major challenge to federal authority when they refused to pay a whiskey tax and began terrorizing the tax collectors. But the Federal government did not leave settlement of the so-called Whiskey Rebellion to Pennsylvania, like Shays’s rebellion. Hamilton urged Washington to call out the militia of three states, raised an army of nearly 15,000 and personally led them into Pennsylvania. As the militiamen got closer to Pittsburgh, the center of the rebellion, and the rebellion quickly collapsed.

•The last of the original thirteen colonies joined the Union once the Bill of Rights had been appended to the Constitution, North Carolina in 1789 and Rhode Island in 1790. Then Vermont, which had its own state government since the Revolution, became the 14th state to join in 1791 after New York and New Hampshire gave up their claim. Next was Kentucky in 1792, after Virginia gave up its claim. Tennessee became a territory first then a state in 1796.
(p. 172)

Native Americans and the New Nation

•The new government was forced to deal with area where Native Americans had already claimed. The ordinances of 1784-1787 had produced a series of border conflicts with Native Americans resisting white settlement in their lands.

•The Constitution barely mentioned Native American nations within the new federal structure. Article I excluded “Indians not taxed” from being counted in the population totals that determined the number of seats states would receive in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, seemed to recognized the existence of the tribes as legal entities. But the Native American tribes did not receive no direct representation in the new government and it did not help with the conflict of land.
(p. 172-173)

Maintaining Neutrality

•Not until 1791-8 years after the end of the Revolution-did Great Britain send a minister to the United States, and then only because Madison and the Republicans were threatening to place special trade restrictions on British ships. The Americans remained neutral in the French and Great Britain.

•One challenge was Edmond Genet because instead of landing in Philadelphia and meeting the president, went to Charleston. While he was making plans with Americans, he was also ignoring Washington's policies and violating the Neutrality Act. This infuriated Washington and the Federalists. Washington demanded that the French government get Genet, but his party was out.

•The second challenge came from Great Britain, like in early 1794, hundreds of American ships were seized in trade in the French Indies by the Royal Navy and people disliked Great Britain even more. Hamilton was concerned because a possible war would affect his financial system.
(p. 174)

Jay’s Treaty and Pinckney's Treaty

•Hamilton did not trust the State Department to reach a settlement with Britain and Jefferson resigned as secretary of state in 1793 to put more time into his political activities, but his successor, Edmund Randolph, was more pro-French than Jefferson.

•Washington was persuaded by Hamilton to name a special commissioner to Britain: John Jay, a chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Jay was to secure compensation for the recent British assaults on American shipping, to demand withdrawal of British forces from the frontier, and to negotiate a new commercial treaty.

•Jay’s Treaty negotiated in 1794 failed it’s goals, but it did other things like settling the conflict with Britain and prevented the war between the two nations. It also established American sovereignty over the entire Northwest and a satisfactory commercial relationship with Britain.The opponents-almost all of Republicans and some Federalists-went to great lengths to defeat it in Senate. James Moore, the minister to France, and Edmund Randolph joined the group to stop the ratification, but Senate ratified it.

•When Thomas Pinckney arrived in Spain as special negotiator, he didn’t find it hard to obtain everything the United States sought for a decade. Under Pinckney's treaty (signed in 1795), Spain recognized the right of Americans to navigate the Mississippi River to New Orleans; agreed to fix the northern boundary of Florida where Americans always wanted it, 31st parallel; and required Spanish authorities to stop Native Americans from launching raids across the border.
(p. 174-175)

The Election of 1796

•George Washington insisted on retiring from office in 1797. In his “Farewell Address” to the American people, he reacted sharply to the Republicans. He warned against international entanglements and specifically denunciation of those Republicans who had been conspiring with the French to frustrate Federalist diplomatic program.

•Jefferson was the uncontested candidate of the Republicans in 1796. The Federalists faced a more difficult choice. Hamilton had too many enemies to be a credible candidate. John Adams, who had not been directly associated with the unpopular Federalist measures, became his party’s nominee for president.

•The Federalists were still the most popular and little doubt of their ability to win a majority of presidential electors. Without Washington to mediate, they fell victim to fierce to fierce factional rivalries that almost destroyed them. Hamilton and many other Federalists were not happy with Adam’s candidacy and wanted Thomas Pinckney instead. Pinckney defeated Adam’s by three electoral votes. Because Adam’s supporters did not want to vote for Pinckney, Adams finished in second and became vice president. (Until the Twelfth Amendment was adopted in 1804, the Constitution provided for the candidate receiving the second highest number of electoral votes to become vice president.)
(p. 175)

The Quasi War with France

•American relations with Britain and Spain grew after the Jay’s and Pinckney’s Treaties. But the nation’s relation with France fell apart. French vessels captured American ships in the seas and sometimes imprisoned them. When the brother of Thomas Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, arrived in France, the government refused him as the official rep. of the United States.

•Some of President Adam’s advisers favored war, like Secretary of State Thomas Pickering. But Hamilton recommended conciliation, and Adams agreed. To stabilize relations, Adams appointed a bipartisan commission-consisting of Charles Pinckney, John Marshall who later was to be chief justice of the Supreme Court; and Elbridge Gerry, a personal friend of Adams-to negotiate with France. When they had arrived, three agents of the French foreign minister, demanded a lon for France and a bribe for French officials before any negotiation talk.

•Hearing the news, Adams sent a message to Congress denouncing the French insults and prepare for the war. Then he turned in the report, but replacing the French agent’s names with “Messrs. X, Y, and Z.”, to Congress. After being published, there was a public outrage at France’s actions. For nearly two years after the “XYZ Affair”, the United States engaged in a war with France.

•Adams persuaded Congress to cut off all trade with France and to authorize American vessels to capture French armed ships. In 1798, Congress created a department of the Navy and appropriated money for new warships. The navy won many duels with French vessels and captured a total of 85 ships, including armed merchants. Britain and the United States worked closely and became an ally of the British in the war of France.

•At the end, France decided to conciliate with the United States before the conflict grew. Adams sent another commission in 1800, and the new French government agreed to a treaty with the United States that canceled the agreement of 1778 and established new commercial agreements.
(p. 175-176)

Repression and Protest

•The Alien Act placed new obstacles in the way of foreigners who wished to become American citizens and strengthened the president’s hand in dealing with aliens. And it helped discourage immigration and foreigners in the country to leave. The Sedition Act allowed the gov. to prosecute those who engaged in “sedition” against the government. It helped arrest and convict 10 men, most of them Republican newspaper editors.

•Republicans laid out two theories in 1798-1799. One of them was written by Jefferson and adopted by the Kentucky legislature and the other written by Madison, adopted by the Virginia legislature. These two resolutions used the ideals of John Locke to argue that the federal government had been formed by a “compact” or contract among the states and possessed only certain delegated powers.Whenever it went against that, its acts were “void and of no force.”If the parties to the contract, the states, had the right to “nullify” the appropriate laws.

•The Republicans did not win wide support for nullification,  but they did succeed in elevating their dispute with Federalists to national crisis. By the late 1790s, the entire nation was as deeply and bitterly divided politically as it would ever be.
(p. 176-177)

The “Revolution” of 1800

•The presidential candidates were the same as four years earlier. But the only difference was that it was the ugliest in American history. Adams and Jefferson displayed reasonable dignity, but their supporters showed no such restraint. The Federalists accused Jefferson of being a dangerous radical and would bring in a reign of terror like the French Revolution. The Republicans portrayed Adams as a tyrant wanting to become king, and accused Federalists of plotting to subvert human liberty and impose slavery on the people.

•The election was close, and the crucial contest was in New York. Aaron Burr had mobilized an organization of Revolutionary War veterans, the Tammany Society, to serve as a Republican political machine. The Republicans carried the city by a large majority, and with it the state. Jefferson was elected.

•The new Congress, elected in 1800 with a Republican majority, was not to convene until the inauguration of the president, so it was the Federalist Congress that had to decide the question. On the 36th ballot, Jefferson was elected.

•After the election 1800, the only branch of the federal government left in Federalist hands was the judiciary. The Adams administration spent its last months in office taking steps to make the party’s hold on the courts secure. By the Judiciary Act of 1801, passed by Congress, the Federalists reduced the number of supreme justice ships by one but greatly increased the number of federal judgeships as a whole. 
(p. 177-178)

Crash Course #8

The Articles of Confederation
•The first government set up by the continental congress
•Lasted 10 years
•Set up a government that consisted of a one house body of delegates with each state having a single vote to solutions for all states and any decision required 9 of the 13 states
•Limited powers like coin money, but couldn’t conduct foreign relations or wars.
•Accomplishments: it won the war, developed rules for Ohio, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (which set up a system for 5 states between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers)
•Could not collect states and created problems like Shays’s Rebellion

The Constitution
•Meant to replace the Articles of Confederation
•Created in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1787
•Has 3 branches of government: legislative, judicial, and executive
•Created protection from tyranny of the president and the people
•The Virginia and New Jersey Plans created the House of Representatives (which relies on a state’s population) and House of Senate (with 2 senators from each state)
•House Members serve 2 years, and Senators serve 6 years with a third of them being on a cycling system for election every 2 years
•Some states couldn’t enforce some laws, like the fugitive slave clause
•The 3 branches of government are supposed to check each other like the president could veto laws by the legislature