The Confederation and the Constitution
Big ideas matter. Here are the most important themes for this chapter.
The over-arching theme of chapter 9 is that the new nation started out of fear of a strong government. And then, out of necessity, strengthened the government.
- The Articles of Confederation, the first government set up after the American Revolution, was structured out of fear of a too-strong government. Therefore, the Articles were very weak on purpose.
- Two things showed the Articles as being too weak to the point of being sterile: (a) it could not regulate commerce and the money situation was growing dim fast and (b) Shays’ Rebellion frightened many to the possibility that mobs might just take over and the government might be too weak to stop them. Due to these reasons, the Constitutional Convention was held.
- The Constitution was written as something of a balancing act between strengthening the government, yet making sure it doesn’t get too strong to take over. The resulting government was indeed stronger, but also a system of checks and balances were put into place to ensure no one branch becomes like the king had been.
- After some negotiating, mostly with the promise of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution was ratified.