1776 - DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
1776-83 - WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
1781 - ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION
1787 - THE PHILADELPHIA CONVENTION
- 25th May
- Delegates from 13 states invited
- 55 out of the 74 invited turned up
- Presided over by George Washington
- Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were also present.
- Was called to revise the Articles of Confederation but instead they got rid of it all together and Created the Constitution.
- The Virginia plan set out the wishes of the larger population states.
- The New Jersey plan set out the wishes of the smaller population states.
- The Connecticut compromise provided the basis for agreement.
- The Constitution was written the 55 delegates who became know as the founding fathers.
The constitution is made up of a whole series of compromises. Alistair Cooke wrote that "The American Constitution was founded upon three great principles: 'Compromise, compromise and compromise'.
THE THREE COMPROMISES:
- The form of government
- Under GB the colonies had been ruled under a unitary form of government. Then they changed to a confederacy with which the power rested with each individual state. The compromise was then to devise a new form of government - a federal government. This gives some political power to the national (or federal) government but other, equally important, powers to the state governments.
- The representation of the states
- In the new congress the large population states wanted representation to be proportional to population. The bigger the population of a state, the more representatives it have in the New Congress. The small population states wanted equal representation. Therefore the compromise was the creation of a Bicameral congress, made up of two houses - the Senate in which there is equal representation for all states, regardless of population, each state has 2 senates. And the House of representatives, in which there would be representation proportional to population.
- The choosing of the President
- Some thought the President should be appointed, other thought the President should be directly elected by the people. The compromise was to have the President indirectly elected by an Electoral College. The people would elect the Electoral college and the 'Electors' within the Electoral college would choose the President.
The first 3 articles of the constitution:
- Article I:
- Established that the Congress was to be made up of two chambers, laid down the methods of election, terms of office and powers.
- Article II:
- Established a President of the USA, laid down methods of election, terms of office and powers.
- Article III:
- Established the United States Supreme Court, laid down the jusdges terms of office and their jurisdiction.
Amending the Constitution
Amending the constitution is a two-stage process: proposal and ratification.
- Proposals to amend can be made by:
- Congress with a two-thirds majority in favour in both houses.
- Or by a national constitutional convention called at the request of two-thirds of the state legislature - this has never been used.
- Ratification can be made by:
- Three-quarters of the state legislatures must vote to ratify,…